#1 – Paul Bastock v King’s Lynn
Boston United 1, Kings Lynn 2
Southern Premier League, 1999/2000
27 December 1999
It would, ultimately, prove to be an irrelevant defeat in a title-winning season, but Boston United’s festive derby defeat to King’s Lynn was one that dealt a stinging blow to local pride and sent the region’s bragging rights down the A17, trundling slowly behind eight tractors, 42 caravans and a combine harvester.
It was, as usual, stage fright that did for the Pilgrims. Evans’ not-at-all-purchased-illegally players trotted out, saw a crowd well in excess of the usual 1000 moaning coffin-dodgers and promptly capitulated with the comical grace of Benny Hill on crack. And in doing so, they conceded what must be one of the most spectacularly daft goals of the last decade.
In fact, a huge crowd of 3119 – a figure surpassed only by the title-clinching* game against Grantham in April – had squeezed into York Street, the largest attendance for a league match since the 1989 game with Kettering. And little wonder, for Evans’ marketing machine had been in overdrive weeks before the match. Ever the media-savvy salesman, his feverish, hyperbolic ranting had been inescapable – his ever-seductive pitch proving irresistible. A giddy public lapped it up and responded in huge numbers.
Yet Evans’ wasn’t hyping a turd, as he would find himself doing repeatedly several years later. Boston were top of the league, unbeaten at home and riding the crest of an unprecedented wave of unbridled optimism. It was, with the crystal clarity of nine years worth of hindsight, a disaster waiting to happen.
As with many local derby games, it was a tight, tense affair. Forty minutes had passed with little incident, both teams no doubt looking forward to their half time cuppa – and in Boston’s case another hysterical half-time rant from their maniac boss. But Boston are Boston. They don’t make things easy and are historically adept at pointing both barrels at their shoes and blowing off both feet. This would be little different.
With half time a mere five minutes away and the score poised intriguingly at 0-0, the ball was collected forty yards from goal by Kings Lynn’s Dave Robinson. He looked to play a simple pass to a team-mate but, with few options, he just happened to notice Paul Bastock loitering far from his goal with all the useful intent of a vagrant. So he did what any self-respecting English non-league clogger would do: he absolutely leathered the ball in the general direction of the York Street stand and hoped for the best.
Robinson was in luck. The winter sun was low behind the Town End stand and Bastock, critically, lost the trajectory of the ball in the glare for a fraction of a second. When it reappeared, he knew something was dreadfully wrong. Adopting the frenzied expression of someone who has just been informed that the world is about to end, Bastock started back-pedalling towards his goal as the ball looped ominously over his head. At precisely the wrong moment, he leapt to top the ball away – and missed.
There was to be no heroic tip over. Instead, the ball crashed off the underside of the bar and fell towards safety on the right side of the goal line. At least, that’s where it was heading – until it met the falling, flailing arse of Bastock. One butt-kiss later, the ball thumped emphatically into the net as the Town End, a potent brew of Evans acolytes and Lynn fans, erupted with a mixture of delight and despair.
What happened next
Not content with handing Lynn a lead, Boston’s plight worsened when they conceded another goal less than a minute later. Boston pulled a goal back via a Peter Costello penalty, but the derby was lost.
Boston’s title ambitions, however, were not to be denied. Evans won his next six league games – including a 6-1 trouncing of his current club Crawley – and lost just one more league game, at Margate. The Pilgrims had the league sewn up with three games to spare and were on the cusp of the most surreal and dark period in their history.
Have YOU witnessed Boston United Football Club LTD concede a goal in a manner more becoming a misogynistic slapstick comedian inexplicably lauded as a genius? Did YOU then turn to your friend and spout forth a vile stream of unspeakable expletives in which you wished a most foul death – and worse – upon the scoundrel responsible? Would YOU like to nominate this moment for our series? Then CONTACT And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Debt immediately with ‘YES! I TOO HAVE BEEN LEFT IN A STATE OF APOPLECTIC RAGE BY A TEAM OF ALOOF SO-CALLED SEMI-PROFESSIONALS CONCEDING A SOFT GOAL IN A GAME OF ASSOCIATION FOOTBALL AND AS SUCH I TOO WISH TO SHARE THE EXPERIENCE OF SAID EVENT WITH LITERALLY ALL SIX READERS OF YOUR SUB-CHARLIE BROOKER WEBSHITE RIGHT THIS VERY MOMENT!’ in the subject line.