I can’t say I really enjoyed the last time I watched Boston play York back in March. It was raining, there was no roof on the terrace, and I dropped my half-time grub on the floor – although the floor was probably the best place for it given it looked like someone had drop-kicked a wet bap into a crime scene. Even the seagulls were leaving bad reviews. Oh, and we lost.
THE GRAND OLD PUKE OF YORK: Even away from the football it was a chastening weekend – from the astronomical cost of York’s hotels and mixed meat kebabs, right through to vomit-spattered drunks quite literally rolling out of Popworld ten minutes after it had opened. I haven’t seen people in that much of a state since my dad’s 60th. The football was appropriately naff, United’s 1-0 defeat leaving everyone wishing they’d not bothered braving the grim drizzle and glacial traffic in the first place. York is a wonderful, beautiful city, but it’s not at its best in weather more befitting the Falklands; days when the windows of cafes start steaming up as bored tourists pass the time demolishing clotted cream teas and pints of tea – and you leave town with zero points. On the plus side, the Yorkshire pudding wraps were great.
NOTABLE ALUMNI: We may not have gifted the planet a savoury pudding, but when you think of things the world should be grateful to Boston for, what do you think of? Sausages? Cabbages? The sequel city across the pond? Steve Evans? Well, obviously SOME of those, but this week it emerged that Boston is also responsible for something even more implausible than Evans: Neil Warnock’s managerial career. Eh what now?
ROAD TO DAMAS- OK, GAINSBOROUGH: It’s true. In a BBC interview to celebrate Warnock’s 70th birthday last week, the venerable Sheffield lad revealed the exact moment he decided he wanted to go into football management – a moment so chilling he had a sort of life-altering, Road to Damascus revelation. “We got beat at Boston in the FA Cup,” Warnock told the BBC. “I realised the only way I could get to the top was as a manager. I loved talking when I was playing and telling people what to do.” Blimey. And he did as well, taking over up the road at Trinity in 1980, before making a name for himself with Scarborough seven years later. And the rest is history. Sorry everyone. And yeah, I know what you’re thinking. But really, Boston United really did used to win FA Cup matches. Honest. Just ask Neil Warnock.
Although I was aware of Boston’s community schemes, it wasn’t until I read the FSF’s summary of the club’s work that I really understood just how impressive it is. The Boston United first team you’re watching today, for example, is just one of over thirty teams the club fields in a variety of formats. Thirty!
I’D LIKE TO THANK…: Boston United staff were afforded the rare luxury of a glitzy awards night knees-up on Monday night after the club was nominated for the Football Supporters’ Federation National Game Community Game gong. If you’ve never heard of the prize, don’t worry: it’s brand new and aims, in the FSF’s own words, to ‘recognise the efforts of non-league clubs and their supporters who, despite huge challenges and tight budgets ensure the survival of the game outside the professional leagues’. It’s certainly an intriguing category, and one that seeks to recognise the incredible, and often unseen, work done by non-league clubs to make non-league football as inclusive as possible. This was reflected in the clubs nominated alongside The Pilgrims: from Hartlepool, Altrincham and Wrexham’s efforts to make life easier for disabled fans, right through to Curzon’s work with refugees and asylum-seekers.
BEHIND THE SCENES: For their part, Boston were nominated for their huge community foundation scheme, one that bubbles away under the surface every week and gets hundreds of local kids and other groups involved with the club and sport in general. And although there’s an entire section in this programme dedicated to this arm of the club, you may not even realise just how large it is. I’m as guilty as anyone – although I was aware of Boston’s community schemes, it wasn’t until I read the FSF’s summary of the club’s work that I really understood just how impressive it is. The Boston United first team you’re watching today, for example, is just one of over thirty teams the club fields in a variety of formats. Thirty!
IMMA LET YOU FINISH: Alas, Boston United didn’t win the award, but thankfully nobody rushed the stage like Kanye West to spoil Curzon Ashton’s victory speech. Still, the nomination itself was a pleasant surprise given the only things we’ve been awarded over the last decade or so are a couple of demotions and a large fine. Vindication, you hope, of the hard work of everyone who works or volunteers or fundraises here at Boston. And things will surely only get better once we’re in new digs with the facilities to match the ambition. No matter what happens with the first team, the club has built something really special – something we should all be proud of.
Enjoy today’s game.
This article originally appeared in The Pilgrim matchday magazine. York were rubbish and rolled over 2-0 in front of a hugely appreciative crowd of 1143.