"Like watching Chelsea v Dortmund"

Saturday 28th September 2013
Boston Town 5 Harborough Town 1
ChromaSport and Trophies United Counties League Premier Division
At: Tattershall Road, Boston
Kick-off: 3-00 pm
Admission: £5; Programme: £1 (24 pages)
Weather: warm and sunny

Let me start with a question. Have the holders of the FA Trophy ever been knocked out by a club who at the time were members of the Midland League? The answer is ‘yes’ and the team that achieved the feat was Boston Town (known at the time as simply Boston FC). After battling through three qualifying rounds in 1979/80 with victories over Heanor Town, AP Leamington and Oxford City, Boston were given a ‘glamour’ First Round tie to Stafford Rangers of the Alliance Premier League, who had triumphed at Wembley the previous May. I saw the tie at Marston Road in which Boston took the lead through Daly and Rangers salvaged a replay with Alf Wood’s second half equaliser. The replay took some playing due to bad weather and ended up being played on a Monday afternoon. Wood gave Stafford a half-time lead but Boston fought back to claim a memorable 2-1 victory thanks to second-half goals from Cox and Mallinder. Boston lost to Mossley after a replay in the following round.

School prevented me from watching the replay though at the time I wasn’t watching Stafford away from home in those days. So, over 33 years since that famous trophy run, I finally made it to Tattershall Road this afternoon at the suggestion of Wellingborough-based and Walsall-supporting groundhopper Neil Morris.

Strange as it may sound, I was actually making the opposite journey to Boston United who were away to Stafford Rangers in the FA Cup. I can’t say my journey was much fun – long delays on the A453 approaching Nottingham and temporary traffic lights at a key junction in Grantham – and instructions in the 2013 Non-League Directory made finding the ground from the A52 a bit of a conundrum.

Try these if approaching from Grantham: on the outskirts of Boston, turn left at the roundabout just past the Hammer and Pinches pub. Cross the railway and turn right at the roundabout that immediately follows and turn right into Sleaford Road. After about one mile take the first exit at the roundabout into Carlton Road then right at the lights into Fydell Street. Continue over the railway level crossing and river then, at the point the road straightens, turn sharp left and double back into Tattershall Road [this bit I missed]. The ground entrance is on the left after 0.8 miles signed ‘Boston Town Football Club’ and ‘Witham Way Country Park’.

The frustrations of the journey were soon forgotten after passing through the turnstile and experiencing a sense of ‘wow!’ with a first look the impressive Tattershall Road ground. A large covered terrace occupied much of the left-hand side, seats behind the far goal and both seats and covered standing down the right-hand side. I liked the fact that two of the three stands were named the Brian Curtis Stand and John Lyon Stand.

I touched on Boston Town’s history and they were formed in 1964 as Boston FC as a result of the temporary withdrawal of Boston United from senior football. They competed in the Eastern Counties League, Midland League, Northern Counties East League and Central Midlands League before commencing in 1991/92 an unbroken 22-season run in the United Counties League Premier Division. ‘Town’ was added to the club’s name in 1994. On thing I'm still in the dark about is this, 'Why are Boston Town nicknamed The Poachers'.

One thing I couldn’t help noticing about today’s match was its so-called billing as second-from-bottom v bottom with both sides still looking for their first league win of the season. The league record of Boston Town (18th with three points from six games) doesn’t tell a complete story as they are unbeaten in their last two games and also defeated Downham Town 6-0 in the FA Carlsberg Vase at the beginning of the month.

While Harborough Town (19th out of 19 with zero points from five games) have had no luck in the league so far this season, they have had some success in cup football. They have reached the FA Carlsberg Vase First Round and face Cleethorpes Town, the side I saw defeat Basford last Saturday.

Boston got the game underway attacking the clubhouse end and took an early 7th minute lead thanks to a lovely bit of skill. Josh Ford cleverly backheeled the ball into the path of Jordan Nuttell who fired low past Josh Carpenter from the edge of the area.

It was “like watching Chelsea v Dortmund in the Champions League” – Boston in blue with white socks and Harborough in yellow and black.

The lead was doubled ten minutes later after Daniel Pegg brought down Ford inside the area. Mr Cusick immediately pointed to the spot and Josh Ford drove home the resulting penalty.

Without wanting to sound unkind to the respective defences, this game continued to have goals written all over it and as someone suggested, “this could finish 7-4”.

Harborough, on a run of ten straight league defeats stretching back to the Saturday 20th April, got right back into contention in the 26th minute. “All the time in the world, Dave,” shouted the visitors’’ manager and Dave Goodman broke clear down the left and accurately placed a low right-foot shot past the dive of Ricky Drury into the far corner of the net.

The attacks continued and Nuttell missed an easy change in the 35th minute. Fed by Callum Stocks, he rounded Josh Carpenter but fired into the side netting rather than empty net. We felt this could prove to be a “crucial miss” wit Harborough back in contention.

Nuttell made amends four minutes after the restart by restoring Boston’s two-goal lead. The striker headed a deep left-wing corner delivered by Stocks towards goal which appeared to take a deflection as it crossed the line.

Drury produced a diving save to keep out a shot from Michael Cirelli before Boston made it 4-1 midway through the second half. Lori Borbely, at the far post, swept home George Stainfield’s low cross from the right.

Now with a match-winning lead, Boston continued to dominate and were denied a fifth goal by a world-class save from Carpenter. The Harborough goalkeeper acrobatically leapt up to his right to somehow turn round a 25-yard dipping volley hit by Frazer Bayliss than seemed destined for the top-left corner.

Boston did wrap up their first league win of the season by scoring a fifth goal in stoppage time. Like the fourth, Stainfield provided the cross from the right and Ford sent a low right-foot shot into the bottom-left corner.

Arriving in such a rush and having not visited the town of Boston since 1988, I just had to spent time exploring the town centre before returning home, especially on a lovely sunny evening. The extraordinarily tall tower on St Botolph’s Church, known as the ‘Boston Stump’ is the stand-out feature. Also catching my eye were the Maud Foster Windmill, Swan Building built in 1877, statue of Herbert Ingram and 109-year-old Municipal Building on West Street. I couldn’t help noticing the number of shops selling produce from places like Poland and Latvia, highlighting the fact that Boston has a very diverse community with more eastern European immigrants than any other town in England.

I headed home with memories of both a ground with a wow factor and pleasant town with the largest parish church in England. Seeing the Poachers' side applauded off the field by their fans told me how much the win meant. Also, it was good to catch up with old friend Neil as well. May be I’ll make a second visit to Tattershall Road if one my local clubs pays a visit in the FA Vase.

Boston Town (blue/blue/white): 1. Ricky Drury, 2. Luke Wilson, 3. Jason Field, 4. Ollie Pinner, 5. Michael Wood (capt), 6. Nick Jackson, 7. Callum Stocks, 8. Liam Bull, 9. Jordan Nuttell, 10. Josh Ford, 11. Lori Borbely. Subs: 12. Ollie Maltby (for Pinner, 79), 13gk. Matt Hocking (not used), 14. Frazer Bayliss (for Nuttell, 81), 15. George Stainfield (for Stocks, 63), 16. Ian Dunn (not used). Player-managers: Ian Dunn and Matt Hocking.

Harborough Town (yellow / black / yellow and black hoops): 1. Josh Carpenter, 2. Ben Easson, 3. Glen Robinson, 4. Chris Piazza, 5. Craig Jacobs, 6. Daniel Pegg, 7. Michael Cirelli, 8. Garry Calrke, 9. Barnes Gladman, 10. Jack Borrows (capt), 11. Dave Goodman. Subs: 12. Clemence Amadelis (for Gladman, 20), 14. Elliott Morgan (for Jacobs, ht). Manager: Chris Church.

Referee: Robert Cusick
Assistants: Chris Giles and David Avison

Attendance: 70 (headcount)
Duration: first-half: 47:03; second-half: 47:31

1-0 Jordan Nuttell (7)
2-0 Josh Ford (17 pen)
2-1 Dave Goodman (26)
3-1 Jordan Nuttell (49)
4-1 Lori Borbely (67)
5-1 Josh Ford (90+2)

Boston: Luke Wilson (YC, 37)
Harborough: Craig Jacobs (YC, 17), Glen Robinson (YC, 74)