Remembering where we once were.
The Rovers official website continues to look back at teams we faced during our five year spell in the Football Conference. Yesterday, we looked at BARROW, today is the turn of Boston United.
Promoted from the Southern League in 2000, few expected Boston United to pull any trees up when they arrived in the Conference.
Our first ever meeting with the Pilgrims came at York Street in September 2000. Steve Evans’ men ran out comfortable 3-1 winners and Jamie Paterson’s late penalty was of little consolation to goals scored by Paul Fewins, Colin Hoyle and veteran Ken Charlery.
Paterson’s 89th minute penalty in the return at Belle Vue in March 2001 was of far greater significance to Steve Wignall’s men. It came with the scores level as Tris Whitman and Mark Adkins had their goals equalised by Simon Weatherstone and Charlery respectively.
Paterson held his nerve, and notched another from open play just a minute later to round off a 4-2 home win.
Rovers and Boston in turn finished 9th and 12th and would renew acquaintances the following year.
In the meantime Boston would turn fully professional and go a long way to upsetting the apple cart.
The first meeting of the 01/02 season was a controversial one in Lincolnshire. Jimmy Kelly finally broke the deadlock just after the hour mark to set Rovers on their way, but he quickly went from hero to zero and was red carded after 77 minutes.
Ten man Rovers doubled their advantage when Gareth Owen converted a spot kick five minutes from time and that seemed to be that.
Villain of the piece Darryl Clare pulled a goal back to set up a tense finale, however, and the perennial ‘thorn in Rovers’ side slammed home a last minute penalty for a point.
Clare was at it in the return too, and his 54th minute spot kick proved the difference later on in the season at Belle Vue.
A relatively successful 4th placed finish for Rovers was amazingly bettered by Boston, who finished top of the league, beating Dagenham & Redbridge to promotion to the league on goal difference.
An FA investigation in to ‘contract irregularities’ cast a huge shadows over their achievements, though, and Evans was subsequently suspended from football for 20 months.
They spent five years in League 2 before relegation in 2007 and were duly demoted two divisions by the authorities due to entering administration and went back to the Conference North.
From there, they were relegated again in 2008 (to the Unibond Premier – 7th tier) due to another administration.
Promotion back to the Conference North in 2011 was sealed with a play-off win over Bradford Park Avenue and they remain in the sixth tier to this day.
*The Pilgrims assemble a defensive wall in anticipation of a Rovers free kick to be taken by either Paul Barnes or Francis Tierney. The hosts would lose the game 1-0 in front of over 4,000 at Belle Vue on March 12th 2002. *