Bring back the Boston Rag: Boston (a)

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

3 February 2007

From the heart of the flat country: a tale of two tax bills

Boston United 0 (nil) Grimsby Town 6

It was a slow day and the sun was beating on the ticketless by the side of the road. Where's the boy in the Boston bubble, the bling-boy in blue? Our favourite joskin is no more, or perhaps he's changed his wardrobe. Or maybe he's one of the Boston's 'disappeared'; there are a lot of holes in the desert.

Around 1,200 Townites descended upon the open prison - they even have a cage for Evans by the side of the pitch. Is it a government initiative: incarceration in the community? As the cowboys took positions in the bushes and the grass, the Mighty Mariner marked his territory as only that cool cat can, and wiggled his fat foam bottom towards the locals. The locals? There are some out there, somewhere; they can't all be munching sausages in Oldrids.

Town spread out in a most unBuckleyesque 4-5-1 formation as follows: Barnes, Bloomer, Whittle, Fenton, Newey, Bore, Bolland, Boshell, Hunt, Toner and Paterson. The substitutes were Murray, Grand, the grand Old Lumpy, Croft and Till. Bloomer played at right-back, with Hunt and Bolland the scavengers in the middle of the middle, and Boshell the cat stroker at the heart of this Frankensteinian creation. We could see the nuts and bolts but it might scare the straw-chewers with floppy hats and pitchforks for a couple of hours.

Town wore white shorts and startled expressions when they emerged to see the mass ranks of support facing them. Not a boo or a hoo to be heard, nor a purple face glowing in the darkness: just songs and laughter and jokes old and new. They looked mighty cheered by our cheers.

The whole team threw their training tops into the crowd, though Justine Whittle-Ardenne made a point of handing his to the smallest Town fan he could find.

I'm not interested in the fraudster's XI. Shall we start?

First half
One, two, three, four: let me tell you how it will be.

Town kicked off towards the unpopulated popular end and there were several seconds of nothingness. And then a few more. Big and broad, Boston biffed the ball up, up and away like a beautiful balloon. For this latest manifestation of the inner id of Evans, subtlety is what runs across the bottom of foreign films.

Boston's back four trundled upfield towards the halfway line, perfectly spaced apart like the Maginot Line. They fiddled and twiddled the ball across the back from right to left with increasing angst. Bore reminded Nicholson that things don't go better with coke, nicking the ball off the dawdling doodler and poking it through the centre. Hey Shane, your mother wants you.

Paterson za-zoomed into hyperdrive, jingled-jangled the bandaged Ellender into a dizzy tizzy and swayed left, dragging a shot against Marriott's legs from the edge of the penalty area. The ball squirtled straight to Toner, about 25 yards out, who immediately lobbed it back over the startled and stranded keeper. High, high, high, looping and drooping towards the far post, the ball gently spun in the sun. The ball dropped, Marriott flopped and Bore thundered in to bazooka a header in from a couple of yards out. An observant seismologist in Potsdam noted a little rumble somewhere in the east of England.

Boston bumped the ball up and Broughton barged into Town players. A corner was cleared and pressure was vague, but alarming, with some hubble and bubble causing trouble near Barnes. Ah, do not concern yourself with such meaningless trivialities as goalkeepers who can't catch the ball, for Bolland and Boshell swooped like eagles upon a little field mouse just outside the Town area after a half-clearance. Town broke with splendour as Paterson laid the ball off for the great Humber Bore to roll over the Fens, crushing all before it. From the halfway line he tickled and teased, advancing into the area, feigning to cross, causing shamed Nicholson to tackle an invisible leg and an invisible ball. On the bye-line Bore cracked the ball high across Marriott, who pushed it up, but not away. Paterson lurked; the ball drifted over him and Hunt, a couple of yards out, strolled and rolled it into the net as two Bostonians thought about nipping down to Woollies for a bag of pic 'n' mix. Six minutes gone and so had Boston.

That observant seismologist was starting to get alarmed.

Evans' 'eroes battled gamely, using every elbow and stud available. As Town players fell, the referee waved play on, somehow managing to give wave after wave of free kicks to the crudités in stripes. Fenton and Whittle stood tall, stood strong and stood still as the ball was constantly walloped into the area from a great distance and a great height. Once we had dapper Dan in goal; now we have flapper Phil. A free kick was dumped into the area: he came, he missed and the ball slowly bumbled goalwards. Fenton ran back and hoiked the ball off the line as no Potatoman bothered to follow.
Bloomer stood in the right place. Excellent.

Town's middle three hassled and hurried, winning everything and covering the centre of the field in a protective white duvet. Mmm, nice and warm, nice and easy. And from there Town's attack dogs worried the sheep with their pace and passing. Nice.

Around the 20-minute mark Town started to roll forward again, tipping and tapping down the right in pretty little triangles. Bloomer lofted, Hunt challenged Thomas and Boshell smothered the bouncing ball in his lap, barundling forward into the D. Toner waited for the ball, turned inside as Boshell ran outside, twisted and swagged a right-footed volley hard and low across Marriott into the bottom right corner.

At this a Boston fan with careless hair had the good sense to get himself thrown out for what may be termed visible disquiet.

Boston's tactics were quite clear: get a throw-in or free kick and send the big men up. Beyond that they had no science, no art and no clue. I think Broughton may have had a header which went 16 yards wide, or I may be being generous and imagineering them creating anything remotely like a chance. The important word there is 'creating', you see. They had opportunities where the ball bounced, or rebounded near them, not us - but that's what happens in duller pub leagues, not professional football. You see, Boston, what you've got to do is act like a professional: a psychopath ain't a professional. Ain't that right Drewe Broughton? He was only booked for elbowing Fenton when all inside the former, and soon to be again, non-League ground knew he should have been dismissed forthwith with several fleas in his ears. The ref was a wimp.

For 15 minutes the game was played in front of the Town fans, with a constant stream of free kicks given to Boston for ne'er but a breeze. They duly whacked the ball into the middle of the Town area. Oh look, Flapper Phil's at it again, hiding behind Whittle and caught, as usual, between nowhere and never; devoured by his own demons in a simmering cauldron of doubt. Green headed softly over Barnes and the ball slowly droopled towards the empty net. Bolland ran back and hoofed the ball off the line.

On the half hour Boston managed to make three passes, in succession, to their own players. Nathan Joynes from New Joysee, on their right, evaded Fenton and chipped a cross to the near post. Broughton bullied his way beyond and above Whittle to destroy the crossbar from three yards out. The ball dropped on the line, but bounced straight to Whittle, who calmly oozed it away.

You know if Town played without a keeper, Boston still wouldn't score. Oh, we are doing.

Still the referee insisted on being nice to the terminally ill: Town were hanging on at 3-0. Whacked high, falling oddly, Barnes flipped the ball off Joynes' boot, against Fenton's chest, and Boshell ran back, levering it off the line. Calm down, it's only an infommercial - Joynes was offside. Ah, here we go again: Barnes wandered towards Wainfleet and dropped the ball at Green's feet. Hamble, scramble and bramble pie with custard followed, with some Bostonian free a dozen yards out with an open goal. He set himself, picked his spot and flabbled goalwards. Bloomer hurled himself in front of the ball and volleyed it clear. One did get the feeling Boston were unlikely to score.

With four or five minutes left to half time Town rambled down the left. Toner hurled a throw-in towards the corner of the Boston penalty area. So far so humdrum. Please keep with me, people; you'll enjoy the punchline. Pitter-patter Patto sneaked away from his marker and volleyed the ball out to Newey, on the touchline, who cushion-volleyed it forward to Toner, who had drifted infield. Toner opened his body and stabbed a first-time pass out to the wing, where Newey had surged past his putative marker. Out came another defender, who Newey dismissed with a flick of his handkerchief and a haughty raised eyebrow. He looked up, saw wildebeest flowing across the savannah and curled a whipping, dipping cross over the keeper to the far post, where Bore hurtled in and, a couple of yards out, smackerooned a header in off the underside of the crossbar. A perfect Buckley goal: an isosceles triangle and a rhombus followed by a dodecahedron and a cross, all without breaking sweat.

The seismologist ran out of the room waving his arms in the air - after all, it was Val Doonican's 78th birthday.

Go and stand in a corner and babble at the wall for a few minutes. Four attacks, four goals. They pass, they move, they tackle and they groove. Town were perfectly constructed to wash away Boston's flimsy foundations and the water just kept on coming.

Is it real, is it fake, was January a mistake? It happened, suddenly it just happened.

Second half
Now my advice for those football teams who are about to die: declare the pennies on your eyes. Those turf accountants from York Street are in need of some help, aren't they. Perhaps they should go down the local CAB.

Ah, a substitution from Boston. With his badge upon his chest we could tell his name was Ernie, a former Rochdale cowboy.

Yeah, well, there you go. Boston this and Boston that, a little bit of roughage to go with the melons and toast. Ernie added a bit of savoir-faire, un petit football noire, for he tempted Town with his treacle tarts and tasty wholemeal bread. In short he tried and had a bit of nous, which led to a bit of Boston pressure, just moogling and googling on the edge of the area. It was nothing special - in fact it was a bit of a bore - but for those potatopeople not cowering under their seats, nuzzling their holdalls or already stuck in a traffic jam along John Adams Way, it was a thin thread to clutch at as gravity's brutal claws slashed at their kneecaps.

Broughton turned and wobbled a rubbish shot in the general direction of Barnes. Ellender nodded a free header softly and straight at Barnes from a corner. Cooksey poked the ball dribblingly wide and then swiped a low shot a few inches wide of Barnes' left post. That's all very well, but we're just waiting for five o'clock. Well, my friends, the time has come to raise the roof and have some fun.

"Evans in! Evans in!"

The concrete steps started to bend to the beat of a thousand leaping Mariners, singing and dancing, losing themselves in the wild romance. A one-two and Paterson flew away down the left, hit the bye-line and crossed low but was blocked. Oh the irony, Boston couldn't cope with Town's corner routine of, well, just kicking it in the air into the middle of their area. Ooh, more Buckleyan football, with smiling Paterson, surging and urging the roused rabble behind the goal. Roar, roar, roar again.

"We want five! We want five!"

Just past the hour Toner curled a corner in from the Town left, high towards the far post. Fenton, a dozen or so yards out, rose three hours before his marker and hovered like a paper bag caught in a vortex. He flicked a loopy header high over Marriott and the ball dropped onto the top of the crossbar, bouncing up and then out. With Marriott face down in the dirt Paterson was as fast as lightning, leaping magnificently. From a feint into a skip and kicking from the hip, he kung-fu hooked the ball into the goal with his right foot about 25 foot above sea level.

And now Town really let their hair down, playing with gay abandon, flowing forward with crowd-pleasing flicks and tricks. Bolland and Hunt made sure the clamp remained in place, allowing Boshell to step inside, love, and really show them the way. Town ticked as he tocked, tapping out that old Burnett beat, the ball in constant motion with simple passes to simple men. Hello, here they go again. Paterson rubbed free with a Boshell-Toner trick and treat; he rolled on, looked up and drove a low cross through the middle of the area, with Bore lurking. A Bostonian pankled the ball into the crowd.

Oh, such beauty, reminding us of our long-forgotten youth. Toblerone Town football down the right at pace, but without nuts. Bore freed, Paterson waiting, but the cross sliced low to the near post, where Marriott, just, clutched the ball. This is football, this is Town. They're smiling again, and so are we: a remembrance of things past.

Toss the hair from side to side, yes, go on, push your head back and laugh! Does it feel good? Toner did slow motion Poutonian stepovers in honour of the retiree's memory. The ghost of Tony Rees flickered across the edge of the penalty area as Paterson outrageously backheel-volleyed a one-two with his new bestest friend Peter Bore, who tried to flick the ball first time over a defender's head. Boshell flighted a corner under the crossbar, forcing Marriott to fingertip the ball over. Toner cracked the next one deep to the far post, where Bore, five yards out, headed down firmly. The ball bounced down past Marriott and up, crawling over the crossbar and smooching the top of the stanchion.

There used to be an angry young man, hiding his head in the sand, Buckley gave him a word and he finally heard: Bore's getting closer all the time.

With just over ten minutes left Town started to really turn the screws of defeat on the eye-popping vice of humiliation. Not just goals, but toying, teasing, one-touch passing. In the centre, down the right, Toner to Bloomer, to Hunt, to Paterson, to Bore and Bolland sent behind the defence to the bye-line. He crossed, they cleared, but only back to Boshell. The metronome relentlessly ticked on, like a Chinese water torture, Boston running around in circles, certain they could hear, but never seeing, never touching. Was it in their head, were they going mad? Was this real? Yes, it was really Town. Tick-tock, it's the Countdown conundrum - di-duh, di-duh, di-duh-duh doooo.

Toner, in the centre-right 30 yards out, imperiously walked into the path of the ball and stabbed a spinning, dipping pass over the left-back. Bolland raced in and, from the very corner of the penalty area right on the bye-line, whamped a cross into the near post. Three yards out, Bore swung his hips to a Latin beat and steered a volley down, through and over the keeper. A hat-trick, and a hatful of hollow Bostonians. We're not grim-faced, we're Grimsby again. For a week, at least.

As the party wended its way towards midnight people drifted away. Their taxis had come, hadn't they, Mr Evans. Till replaced Paterson and duly ran around a lot, without much effect. Five minutes later Croft replaced Newey and Bore was allowed his personal ovation when the Grand Old Lumpy came on for a cameo of pure lumpyness. Somehow, with Paterson and Bore off the pitch, Town weren't the same and Boston's defenders finally had someone who they could keep pace with. They even had a little bit of pressure at the end, with a free kick wasted by Ernie, and Broughton huffed and puffed in circles but only blew his own house down.

Buckley ran off and let the players soak in the adoration. Whittle, Fenton and Bloomer stood together and lingered to the end, bonding together and with us. Whittle even got a personalised message of love from one thousand Grimbarians.

Well, what a strange day.

Is this like 28 February 2004? Is it that typical, cruel false hope that every Town team inflicts upon us? Is this the death rattle of the wheezing corpse or have they finally clicked out of their introspection and caught the Buckleybug?

The players, from the off, looked comfortable, happy and confident. They generally passed the ball accurately and, above all, they all got stuck in. No standing around, no waiting for someone else to do something. If the ball came near, two Town players attacked it and no Bostonian was allowed any time or space. In short, Town dominated and all was fine, if we ignore the goalkeeper. Yeah, Boston could have scored four in the first half too but who cares and who will remember by Tuesday afternoon? It's about time we had some outrageous fortune and about time we could indulge in non-gloominess. Go on, be happy, even if it's just for one week - try it.

Boston were gloriously overridden and good riddance to the festering cesspit of corruption and deceit that is their ownership and management. Nothing personal, our fellow yellowbellies. One 'n' one is eleven! Two 'n' two is twenty-two! Why are Boston still in the League?

In all this excitement I kinda lost count of the score: was that five goals or six?

Nicko's unofficial man of the match
Peter Bore scored three and set one up - great, of course, though he didn't do much else. The game was defined further back, the stage upon which Bore could sing and dance constructed by the three wise monkeys in the middle of midfield; nothing got past them. Hunt and Bolland were the stoppers, but Danny Boshell also started. Without him the watch wouldn't have told the right time.

Official Warning
Mr M Jones was weak and indulgent of Boston's strongarm tactics (literally strongarm in Broughton's case). He got in the way a couple of times (which helped Town) and whistled too often and for the wrong reasons. He was reluctant to book for hacks and swipes and was fortunate that the game was an academic exercise for most of its course. He is fortunate to find the score of 4.654 pinned to his backside.

The Others
By far the worst Boston team Evans has forged. They were tactically pitiful, bereft of individual skill and had no-one capable of running beyond a brisk canter. They showed nothing at all that suggests they could compete in a division higher than a Lincolnshire league. They were as bad as anything Town have produced and, as we know, that is saying summat.

All they did was kick the ball in the air towards Drewe Broughton, who was big, but not clever, barging into opponents. They played for set pieces, without ever having any cunning plans at those set pieces - chuck or kick it towards the centre-half. Defensively they played four slow men far apart, a long way from a goalkeeper who can't kick the ball. It was as if they expected the Grand Old Lump to play.

They were wonderful opponents. Who could ask for anything more.