Cod Almighty | Article
by Simon Wilson
21 July 2006
Boston United? Who might they be?
Borne from Boston Town, who claimed the honour of the FA Cup's first ever giant-killing when they disposed of Bradford Park Avenue back in 1925, the Pilgrims finally claimed League status after their Conference championship in 2002. This made them the latest arrivals to the League's swelling ranks of Lincolnshire clubs, from the deepest, darkest depths of the county. It didn't sound too Deliverance for such Town luminaries as Matt Tees, Alan Woodward, Keith Jobling, Ben Chapman, Chris Grocock and Geoff Stephenson, whose post-Blundell Park careers were spent playing for the York Street side. There's an allegation that the Pilgrims might be surprisingly popular in Asia.
"Best ever points tally rounds off a good season," the club's official site was still proclaiming two months after the campaign ended. Credit is due though. In their fourth season since promotion Evans guided the Pilgrims to their highest league placing of 11th, on the back of 61 league points: an increase of three on the previous term. All on the back of the division's second lowest average home attendances. How do they afford it all?
For the fans it was a topsy-turvy season: an impressive 10-game unbeaten run was balanced by a seven-match winless sequence. They won 15 yet lost just as many. Decidedly as average as their league placing shows, then. Goals are what these boys didn't have, failing to score in 15 league outings: a symptom prevalent in all the relegation-threatened teams. It might have been all so different were it not for issues up front and in goal. The very public departure of much-vaunted arrival Noel Whelan to a rehab clinic left them with the slowing local lad Julian Joachim as their main strike threat. Permanently luring a decent goalkeeper to the area for a couple of years seems to be mission impossible. A number of stop-gap loans have filled the breach.
For Town fans, the memory of a pitiful victory at Blundell Park was enlivened by Steve Evans's unforgettable ejection from the ground – the sugary sprinkles on top of a lavishly iced cake to celebrate Town's first league win in four attempts over the minnows.
Anticipate with relish
Steve Evans's impending court case over defrauding the Inland Revenue between April 1997 and July 2001. Originally scheduled for earlier this year, it should be happening at a law court some time soonish.
Whatever happened to Evans's date with the FA about being slung out of BP?
Anticipate with dread
The Evans route to success: dour, boring, drab, two banks of four, and two forwards who feed off whatever scraps are thrown their way. Evans recently claimed: "We do not have the resources of others in [the fourth division], but I believe that we can make up for that with fitness, organisation, pride, passion and with the support of the Boston United fans, we can look forward to another season of league football." The motivation of a season of scrapping will certainly raise their average attendance.
The way forward
When the Malkinson family finally stepped aside in early 2004, Boston's reins were taken up by Jon Sotnick (recently installed as chief executive at Darlington), whose company Lavaflow holds the majority of shares. This supposedly saved the club from liquidation, but the future is still far from clear. "We move or we fold," said Sotnick a couple of months before his departure regarding his plans to sell the York Street ground (a pronouncement brilliantly aped by Impstalk). The proposed move would fund an £8m new stadium and pay off a million-pound tax bill. There's word that the Revenue's patience is close to exhaustion and that if the planning permission for the new ground falls through, the club will be stripped bare.
The planning statement amusingly refers to the proposal as 'Cuckoo Land'. Former player and two-week manager Jim Rodwell, one of Sotnick's posse, has taken over the chairmanship and is, unsurprisingly, continuing these moves. To fill in time before such a ground switch, Boston's current home will be renamed 'the Staffsmart Stadium'.
The requisite summer clear-out has seen Jason Lee, Lawrie Dudfield and player of the year Alan White joining the knackers' yard at Notts County. Andy Marriott, once of Nottingham's other team and Torquay's most consistent performer last term, has been offered enough money to leave Devon for Lincolnshire. The powers of Dave Farrell, a useful winger at this level, are fading as he sneaks past his mid-30s. His arrival is consistent with Evans' practice of signing players who are as old as possible. Maybe this Dad's Army policy could be reversed by tapping into the ever-burgeoning local Portuguese potato-picking population.