Essential Guide to Boston
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Boston United club history
History is wonderful. It can be re-written at will to fit whatever ideological agenda one happens to have. What a great invention it is. Here, then, is impsTALK's history of Boston United.
The Very Early Years
The craze for football soon spread, and it didn’t take long for the town to boast its very first team, playing on the site of the York Street Stadium. In 1889 the ground was renamed in a sponsorship deal and became known as ‘Mr Hartley’s Radium Watch Emporium Foot-ball and Re-creation Ground’. The site witnessed the first entry into the FA Cup sponsored by the White Star Line in 1897, but Boston were thrashed out of sight by Gainsborough Trinity thanks to the vocal backing of both Trinity supporters. "Never before a cheer such as this have I heard!" one reporter at the game exclaimed. “The earth banks were in tumult!”
was again in the limelight in 1914 when British and German troops celebrated
Christmas together, abandoning their trenches in the now famous Christmas
Eve match. At this time, there were now two senior clubs in Boston –
Town and the Swifts who both played at Mr Hartley’s Radium Watch
Emporium Foot-ball and Re-creation Ground. Both teams were members of
the Lincoln and District League and were well known throughout the region.
Meanwhile, the club continued winning trophies at a bewildering rate. The Malkinsons simply couldn't purchase trophy cabinets quick enough, so much of the silverware was stacked up in the car park or in skips around the rear of the Sportsbar. As the nation's most successful non-league club, it seemed inevitable United would make their long awaited step up the the elite 92. In 1977, however, the club was denied a place in the Football League after inspectors deemed the third world facilities to be unsuitable. Wigan Athletic were elected instead, a decision that dismayed fans and officials alike. “We’ll show them!” roared a defiant Ernest Malkinson, before setting about rebuilding York Street. With the exception of the York Street stand, the stadium was entirely rebuilt and included a huge terrace at the town end of the ground. “It's perfect for away supporters,” Malkinson said. “It’ll keep that South Liverpool rabble away from my car anyway.”
years of hurt: 1990s
Peter Morris was replaced by Mel Sterland in 1994 and he guided the Pilgrims to second place in 1995/1996. This should have been good enough to see the Pilgrims promoted back to the Conference when Marine, who had finished top, saw their large mound of dirt masquerading as a stadium deemed unsuitable for promotion. Sadly, Boston had forgotten to post the forms applying for membership of the Conference. Furious United then reacted in the only way they could: they sacked Sterland and replaced him with player manager – and penalty specialist - Greg Fee.
To the palpable relief of the fans, Greg Fee opted to take the spot
kick - and calmly and fearlessly rolled the ball, with a slight of touch
befitting a world-class neurosurgeon, into the grateful arms of Chester’s
goalkeeper. The game ended 1-0 to Chester, who then drew Middlesborugh
in the next round in the days when Boro were actually vaguely glamourous.
Hardly anything of note happened during 1997/1998, a season so devoid of interest that the crowds began to sink dangerously low. Indeed, the horrendous home defeat to Spennymoor on 7 March 1998 saw barely 600 fans show their faces and was sufficiently dreadful to prompt this pre-impsTALK writer to write a letter to the local paper so fired with adolescent anger it made absolutely no sense whatsoever and required a corrective missive the following week.
The prospects for an improvement in 1998/1999 were bleak. Boston started the season badly, so badly that Greg Fee made haste to the studios of BBC Radio Lincolnshire to protest that the finances of the club were such that he had little hope of reversing the inexorable slide into further obscurity. The few remaining fans, resigned to their fate in with no hope of ever seeing Conference football again, were hardly inclined to disagree. After a calamitous FA Trophy exit at the hands of Congleton, a thoroughly dispirited Fee tendered his resignation and was replaced by a cheeky little Scotsman going by the name Steve Evans.
Steve, having alienated most normal people in the regional non-league scene at Stamford, fancied his chances at becoming Bigtime Proper Manager, and in Boston found the hotbed of chest-puffing glory hunters he needed to fulfil his dream. Steve immediately set about spending Big Cash on Big Name Players, mostly from Big Name Managers, most of whom he counted as his Biggest Bestest Friends when name checking them in the local paper. Not surprisingly, given the Big Cash he was spending, Evans managed to haul Boston from the foot of the Southern League to an unlikely runners-up spot – but then a deceased goldfish could do that.
And, for a while, it seemed as though they were right. United made their newly acquired but not-at-all-funded-with-dirty-money full-time status count on the pitch, going toe-to-toe with bigger, less debt ridden and more law abiding clubs in the most exciting, but pointlessly crooked, title race seen in years. After a dramatic run in - including the now famous Southport comeback, covered by Sony award winning BBC double act Dalton and Hortin - Boston snatched the title from under the noses of Dagenham on a spectacular final day in which they secured the win they needed at Hayes live on Super Sky.
“It’s the best day in the history of the club!” gibber-jabbered booze-drenched club secretary John Blackwell, supping his ninth bottle of champagne in the away dressing room before blacking out and waking up three days later on his desk with a furry tongue, a pair of underpants on his aching head – and a sinister Bean-sized shadow knocking loudly at the door. “Show us where your computer is!” bellowed the leader of the FA Compliance SWAT unit and a groggily compliant Blackwell duly led the counter-Evans team to his solar powered 10-digit CASIO scientific calculator. “Ok, now crack open the Earl Grey and the Battenberg,” Bean then didn’t say, instead choosing to get on the phone and order a couple of transit vans to take away the several tonnes of accumulated paperwork in Blackwell’s office.
It took 72 hours of sifting by sixteen of the FA’s most bone-idle student temps for the 1995/1996 Vauxhall Conference application forms to finally surface - but only after Bean’s team had uncovered a grubby paper chain indicting many of the club’s top officials. It soon became clear that Boston United had been up to no good. Indeed, Steve Evans hadn’t so much bent the rules as snapped them over his knee, set fire to them and eaten the ashes.
was swiftly suspended by Des Wood, now the club's chairman as he figured
out a way to engineer a lucrative property stunt, to be replaced by
Neil Thompson. The club was handed a four-point deduction but they were
permitted to take their place in the league - leading to a furious on-air
rant from BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson. Dagenham’s hysterical reaction,
even if it was born from an understandable sense of indignation, kept
spirits up as they prepared for 2002/2003 - their first
season in the league - with a burning sense of embarrassment.
rest for the wicked: 2003/2004
was another season of turmoil. With a hardcore group of Evans acolytes
baying menacingly for the return of their messiah, Des Wood’s
reign as chairman came to an abrupt end when wannabe property magnate
Jon ‘Sinister’ Sotnick took over the club. His first act
was to vehemently deny rumours that he was set to immediately sack Neil
Thompson, install his friend Steve Evans as manager and unveil plans
to bulldoze York Street.
saw the ego yet again begin to swell grotesquely. ‘Promotion’
became the buzzword, and Boston needed the players to match their preposterous
ambitions, regardless of whether they could actually afford them or
not. In came David Noble and Andy Kirk, paid with cheques signed with
disappearing ink. Kirk would become Boston United’s first current-international
player when he was allowed a six second run out against North Korea.
After signing another batch of promising players, including Julian Joachim, 2005/2006 witnessed another ruthless winter cull of the playing squad after bills became red bills and red bills became debt letters and the debt letters became solicitor letters. Nevertheless, Steve Evans was somehow able to cajole and harass his 16 short term loan signings into finishing eleventh in the League, with a record points tally of 61. 61 was a records point tally. A record points tally of 61. Record. Record points. 61. Record.
But by this time, Boston United were already on the slippery slope to self-destruction. Even before a ball was kicked in 2006/2007, impsTALK, in a rare moment of smugness not fuelled by the benefit of hindsight, predicted a ‘gruesome relegation’ for the Pilgrims, and so it came to pass. When chairman Jon Sotnick quit to take up a post that mainly involved him wearing an expensive suit at Darlington and creating pointless Powerpoint presentations about revenue streams, leaving the club in the capable hands of Krazee Jimmy Rodwell and his sinister puppet sidekick Little Jimmy, the writing was on the wall.
Starting slowly, grinding ever slower and then turning from hapless to shambolic in record time, United were finally given their marching orders at Wrexham after a nonsensical final six months in which Steve Evans was found guilty of serious tax fraud charges (and lucky to avoid landing himself in the slammer to boot) and staff, including the players, remained unpaid for several excruciating weeks as the financial implosion really began. Lavaflow were dealt a severe blow when the plans for their new stadium were thrown out, mainly because they were dogshit, with the future of the club looking ever bleaker. The already dire situation was complicated by a mysterious group of investors called Standing Alone Ltd, who [CENSORED] and [NO COMMENT] with a [UNDISCLOSED]. They [CONFIDENTIAL] believed that [NOT FOR PUBLIC DISCLOSURE].
With time and money running out, witless United chairman Krazee Jim engineered a cringe worthy last gasp CVA when it became evident that United were going down in flames at the Racecourse - not that it mattered. It later emerged that the club’s CVA breached so many rules that United would certainly have been relegated even if they had finished 50 points clear at the top. “We’ll bounce straight back to our rightful place!” roared a few flag-waving United fans, failing to realise that (a) Boston had been non-league for approximately 96.6% of their entire history and (b) salivating Conference officials were ready and waiting – as they had been for five years - to give the hapless Lincolnshire outfit a hearty boot up the arse down to the Tinpot Pub League North to ensure there wasn’t even the remotest possibility of that happening for several years.
With no money in the coffers, Steve Evans swiftly departed to inflict his own brand of aggressive self-aggrandising pomposity on hapless Majeed-owned cowboy outfit Crawley Town, a club with a similarly long and proud history of spending non-existent funds on Daryl Clare. Back in Lincolnshire, however, it was still far from certain that Boston would survive long enough to field their team of three spotty youth players, a nine-day old banana, a rusty Phillips head screwdriver – with perhaps Paul Ellender warming the bench. With the Standing Alone takeover stalling, ex-Leicester malcontent Barrie Pierpoint took to the stands to rally support for the ailing club in the complete absence of any ‘Save Our Pilgrims’ campaign from other quarters.
Just days later, bonkers Chestnut Homes suits Neil Kempster and David Newton assumed control of the Pilgrims after a night on the Uzo and brake fluid. 2007/2008 was a season of consolidation as Newton, aided by his personal assistant Kempster, fought to keep the club alive. Tommy faaaahkin' Taylor replaced Evans in the hotseat, inheriting no squad and a heap of problems. The Pilgrims opened the season with a 2-0 win against Workington, but results remained patchy throughout. After a brief flirtation with the playoffs, United finished tenth.
Meanwhile, the Conference, huddled together around a cauldron, were hatching a plan to finish off the Pilgrims for good. Noting that the club was in breach of the second Saturday in May rule, the league opted to enforce its rules - something they were strangely loathe to do with Crawley. The FA rejected United's appeals, and the club was booted into the Unibond.
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