Boston United F.C.
|Full name||Boston United Football Club|
|Ground||Jakemans Community Stadium, Boston|
|League||National League North|
|2020–21||National League North (season curtailed)|
Boston United Football Club is an association football club based in Boston, Lincolnshire, England. The club participates in the National League North, the sixth tier of the English football league system. The club is known as 'the Pilgrims' in reference to the Pilgrim Fathers, who left England and sailed to North America and settled near, though did not found, Boston, Massachusetts. The club's crest features the pilgrim fathers' ship, the Mayflower. The club's traditional colours are amber and black. They compete in Lincolnshire derby matches with Lincoln City, Scunthorpe United, Gainsborough Trinity and Grimsby Town. They have played home games at York Street since the club's inception.
The club was formed in 1933 as a successor to the short lived Boston Town. They initially competed in the Midland League, before joining the Southern League for a four year spell in 1958. They returned to the Midland League and then joined then United Counties League, winning their first league title in 1965–66. Boston then switched to the West Midlands (Regional) League, winning the Premier Division in 1966–67 and 1967–68, before becoming founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968. United won four Northern Premier League titles in the 1970s (1972–73, 1973–74, 1976–77 and 1977–78) and became founder members of Alliance Premier League in 1979. Boston returned to the Northern Premier League in 1993 and moved back to the Southern League Premier Division in 1998.
Boston United won the Southern League in 1999–2000 and the Conference in 2001–02 to secure a place in the Football League for the first time under the stewardship of controversial manager Steve Evans. They spent five years in the fourth tier, but entered administration in 2007 and were relegated down two divisions into the Conference North. Demoted to the Northern Premier League the next year, Boston won the Northern Premier League Premier Division play-offs in 2010 and have since had two unsuccessful play-off campaigns in the Conference / National League North.
The club was founded in 1933 as a successor to a club called Boston Town. Their first game was a 3–1 defeat at home to Grimsby Reserves on 26 August 1933, when a crowd of 1,544 watched Boston's no.7, Blessed, score United's first ever goal. They then had a moderate amount of success in various leagues, including the Midland League and Southern League.
The club's FA cup run of 1955–56 included a 6–1 victory at Derby County, then playing in Third Division North, with Geoff Hazledine scoring a hat-trick. This was a record away win by a non-league team against League opponents in the FA Cup. This set up a Third Round match against Tottenham Hotspur of the Football League First Division at White Hart Lane on 7 January 1956. The match against Tottenham Hotspur was played in front of a crowd of 46,185. The Pilgrims lost 4–0, but the match was more notable for the travelling support. Over 10,000 Boston supporters attended the game. A number of special train services from Boston to King's Cross were set up for the day.
They were founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968, of which they were champions four times, and of the Alliance Premier League (now the National League) in 1979. However, their Northern Premier League title wins were not enough to gain them election to the Football League, and when they won the title in 1978 they surprisingly missed out on league status in favour of runners-up Wigan Athletic, who took the Football League place previously held by Southport.
In 1985 Boston United went to Wembley for the first and only time in their history for the FA Trophy Final of the 1984–85 season, after Bob Lee scored a winning last minute goal in the 2nd leg of the semi-final against Altrincham at York Street to put the Pilgrims through. Boston lost 2–1 to Wealdstone in front of 20,775, with Chris Cook scoring United's only goal.
Boston United finished third in the Conference in 1988–89, but were unable to build on this and were relegated to the NPL in 1993. They were transferred to the Southern League, winning the title in 2000, and went fully professional in 2001. In their first season as a professional club, Boston won the Conference and were promoted to the Football League.
However, in the wake of their promotion, Boston's manager, Steve Evans, and former chairman, Pat Malkinson, were charged with breaking the Football Association's rules over the registration of players. Both men received bans from the FA, and the club were fined and docked four points from their first season in the League. This angered some, especially the Conference runners up Dagenham & Redbridge, who believed that any points deduction should have applied to the previous season, which would have meant Dagenham being promoted instead.
Youth team coach Neil Thompson was appointed as manager for Boston's maiden Football League season, and though they left it late to secure survival, they ultimately managed a creditable 15th place finish. The following season resulted in another relegation battle, and as soon as former manager Steve Evans had served his suspension in full, Thompson was sacked and Evans was reinstated as manager, leading them to a strong late-season run and an eventual finish of 11th. Evans' return and a substantial investment in the playing squad saw Boston among the promotion favourites for the 2004-05 season, but it in fact resulted in a disappointing 16th place. 2005-06 would prove to be their most successful Football League season, with their finish of 11th being their joint-highest, but the club missing out on the play-offs by just five points (having missed out by a much larger margin in 2003-04).
The 2006-07 season saw Boston struggle all season long, however, and in May 2007, Boston were relegated from Football League Two on the last day of the season. Steve Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor on 27 May resigned from the club, and two days later joined Crawley Town.
Because of the relegation Boston were originally scheduled to play the 2007–08 season in the Conference National but this position was immediately placed in doubt after the club's chairman Jim Rodwell entered Boston into a Company Voluntary Arrangement late in their last game so that 10 points would then be deducted in the 2006–07 season instead of the 2007–08 season. Although this meant that Boston started the 2007–08 season without a points penalty FA rules dictated that they be demoted 2 divisions as a result of HM Revenue & Customs placing a restriction into the CVA of Boston not being allowed to pay football creditors 100% of what they were owed. They therefore played the 2007–08 season in the Conference North division, two steps below the Football League. This would be United's first season under the new ownership of David Newton and Neil Kempster, who took control of the club over from ex-Chairman Jim Rodwell.
Despite finishing the 2007–08 campaign in 10th place under the guidance of Tommy Taylor, United were still in administration by the 2nd Saturday of May in 2008. This meant they were relegated again to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for the 2008–09 season. Despite coming out of administration just before the start of the new season anyway, Boston United failed to have this decision overturned. Another result of this was that they would also have to enter the FA Cup in the 1st qualifying round, something which they had not done for many years. They reached the final of the Lincs Senior Shield but were swept aside by Stamford 4–1,and finished the league campaign in 16th position.
A much more favourable campaign the following season saw The Pilgrims finish 3rd in the league where they won the play-offs, beating Bradford Park Avenue in the final thanks to an Anthony Church extra time winner to earn promotion back to the Conference North.
Joint managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst resigned from the club in 2011 and were appointed joint managers of Conference National side Grimsby Town. Club chairman David Newton revealed he was beginning legal proceedings against the pair and Grimsby Town, for breach of contract. The Pilgrims wasted no time appointing former Boston player Jason Lee and current player Lee Canoville as joint caretaker managers. With only 7 Conference North games remaining, the pair guided United to a 3rd-place finish in the league setting up a play-off tie against Guiseley. Boston lost the first leg 1–0 at Nethermoor Park but fought back in the return leg winning 3–2 at the Jakemans Stadium to take the match to extra-time and penalties. Boston went out losing 2–3.
After a decent start to the 2012/13 season, Boston started to drop off the promotion pace, with a 7-game winless run from November to mid-December not aiding their cause. More inconsistency followed, and Jason Lee was sacked. Graham Drury took over within the same week but left the club after less than 2 months. Dennis Greene took over soon afterwards, but after a good start couldn't help the club from finishing higher than a poor 16th place, just 5 points above the relegation zone.
The following season was a marked improvement in both league and cups. Whilst Boston fell at the 2nd hurdle (2–0) at Brackley, they made the last 32 of the FA Trophy with wins over Redditch and Southport, before a 2–0 loss at Tamworth. In the league, they held on to a top 5 spot for most of the season and never fell below 8th, but they couldn't keep up with late surges by Hednesford and Guiseley, ending 1 place and 6 points off the playoffs in 6th.
The following season Boston did make the play-offs however, securing a place with a 4–1 victory at Solihull Moors before a 0–0 draw at home to relegated Leamington was enough to secure third place. A 0–0 draw at Chorley's Victory Park set up a winner takes it all second leg at York St, and goals from Scott Garner and Kaine Felix put Boston 2–0 ahead. However, Chorley forced extra time with an overhead kick from Adam Roscoe late in injury time. Despite Roscoe's extra time red card, Boston failed to score a third and the game went to penalties, which United lost after seven spot kicks when Sam Ashton saved Rene Steer's penalty.
Boston started the 2015–16 season as play-off favourites once again, but pressure mounted on Dennis Greene due to poor results including losing to Gainsborough in the FA Cup and Solihull Moors in the FA Trophy (both in the first round Boston featured in). However, Boston found spells of form later in the season to ensure 5th place at the expense of Nuneaton- although a 3-point deduction received by the Warwickshire side meant they finished below Boston (who earned 71 points in the 42 league games).
Boston faced North Ferriby United in the play-offs, and won the first leg 2–0 at home through Grant Roberts and Zak Mills' goals. The second leg at Church Farm was watched by approximately 2,000 travelling Pilgrims amongst the 2,500 spectators, but the home side were quickly celebrating as Liam King's penalty and Tom Denton's header quickly cancelled out Boston's lead. Danny Hone scored a third for Ferriby, which was ruled out for offside, but Wayne Brooksby won the tie for eventual promotion winners Ferriby as he scored while referee Andrew Miller ignored Nat Brown's head injury inflicted by Tom Denton's elbow. Somewhat of an exodus then occurred as Boston saw Spiess, Mills, Piergianni, Garner, Marrs, Felix and Southwell all depart, Southwell and Mills notably moving to league sides Wycombe and Grimsby respectively.
Boston United played at York Street until 2020, styled as The Jakemans Stadium through a sponsorship deal. There were four sides to the stadium: the main seated Mick George Stand; the Co-Operative York Street Stand; the Spayne Road Terrace; and the old away end—known as The Jakemans Stand and then turned into a home stand. The away fans sat in a section of the York Street Stand.
Former club chairman Jon Sotnick claimed it was not up to Football League standards and called for a new ground during the Pilgrims' time in the Football League. Planning applications were made to Boston Borough Council in June 2006, but the council turned down the application. The ground had a total capacity of 6,643.
The club built a new stadium outside the town, and on 10 April 2019 announced that the 2019-2020 season was to be their last at York Street.
For the beginning of the 2020–21 season, the club were granted permission to use Gainsborough Trinity's Northolme as their home ground temporarily whilst finishing touches were applied to their new stadium.
On 4 December 2006 Boston's plan to relocate to a new stadium on The Boardsides was unanimously rejected by Boston Borough Council. This plunged the club's future into serious doubt. Chairman James Rodwell said the club's future was "hanging in the balance" because York Street did not have the facilities to allow the club to operate at a profit, and a ground move was required to wipe out the club's debts. Rodwell confirmed that he would be meeting with shareholders over the next couple of days to determine the best course of action, but did admit that the club's future was ultimately now in the hands of HM Revenue and Customs, who were owed a sizeable six-figure sum by the club.
In a statement he released to the club's official website on 5 December he said: "The club's financial situation at the present moment is dire. I would urge all supporters and anybody interested in the future of the football club, be that investors or potential purchasers, to come forward immediately".
In November 2006, Boston manager Steve Evans and his former chairman Pat Malkinson pleaded guilty to "conspiring to cheat the public revenue between 1997 and 2002". Both were given suspended jail sentences.
In May 2007, Boston entered into a Company Voluntary Arrangement towards the end of their last game of the season when they knew they would be relegated to the Conference. This allowed them to avoid a points deduction in the next season, but has proved a controversial move.
On 10 June 2007 the Football Conference's annual general meeting voted in favour of demoting Boston United to the Conference North, stating that the terms of the Company Voluntary Agreement which Boston entered was behind the decision. Altrincham were subsequently spared relegation for the second season running. Chief executive John Moules released this statement:
"Because Boston United are in breach of certain rules, it was felt Blue Square North was the best place for them. HM Revenue and Customs put a caveat on that CVA that Boston could not pay football creditors. That breaks Football Association, Football League and Football Conference rules and regulations. We're giving Boston the opportunity to re-establish themselves as a leading club outside the Football League. They believe the decision we have made is fair and just, and they are not going to appeal. We had meetings all day on Friday with Boston United and then informed Altrincham that they were staying up."
On 4 July 2007, Chestnut Homes, a local housing development company, announced that they had acquired Boston United FC.
In a statement at a press conference the new chairman David Newton said: "... we are happy to sit here today and make certain pledges to the loyal supporters of the club. While we are involved in the club, the club will be whiter than white. While we are here, everyone will be paid. We will be prudent in the management of the club's finances. We will strive for excellence on and off the pitch. As finances permit, we will develop the youth side of the club, and if managed well that should pay dividends in the medium to long term for the club. Above all, we will try to rebuild the reputation of this football club."
During the summer of 2007 Boston lost their entire squad but for Stewart Talbot and Paul Ellender, and new manager Tommy Taylor had to start from scratch. The team eventually finished mid-table but, taking everything into consideration, it was not a bad season. Nevertheless, at the end of the season it was announced Boston would be expelled from the Conference league structure after the club failed to exit administration by the 10 May deadline. The Conference is the only league in the world to have this appendix, which is not a rule as such, but only a guideline to be used at the League's discretion. The Pilgrims came out of administration before the end of the summer.
When founded in 1933, Boston United inherited a kit of blue shirts, white shorts and black socks from the wound-up Boston Football Club. Later that year, these kits were changed to a black shirt with a large white 'V', a design maintained until 1937. After this, United switched to white shirts and black shorts and socks. After World War II, Boston United reverted to blue shirts of different shades with either black or white shorts and socks.
The currently colour scheme of amber and black has been in place since 1951, although the design has varied from season to season. In recent times, Boston United have had their kits supplied by Umbro (1988–90), Paulas Benara (1990–2005), Vandanel (2006–10), Errea (2010–2016), Nike (2016–2020), and Adidas (2020–present).
Shirt sponsors and manufacturers
|Year||Kit Manufacturer||Main Shirt Sponsor||Back of Shirt Sponsor|
|1999–2000||Stantons Metsä Prima|
Oldrids Downtown (Away)
|2007–2009||Cropley's Suzuki||AC Williams|
|2009–2010||Chris Cook Print|
|2012–2013||Thurlby Motors||T&B Containers|
- As of 11 May 2021
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
|1976–1977||Freddie Taylor and |
|2004||James Rodwell (caretaker)|
|2009–2011||Rob Scott and Paul Hurst|
|2011–2012||Jason Lee and Lee Canoville|
- Football Conference
- Champions: 2001–02
- Southern League
- Champions: 1999–2000
- Northern Premier League
- Northern Premier League Challenge Cup
- Winners: 1973–74, 1975–76, 2009–10
- Northern Premier League Challenge Shield
- Winners: 1973–74, 1974–75, 1976–77, 1977–78
- Lincolnshire Senior Cup
- Winners: 1934–35, 1936–37, 1937–38, 1945–46, 1949–50, 1954–55, 1955–56, 1956–57, 1959–60, 1976–77, 1978–79, 1985–86, 1987–88, 1988–89, 2005–06
- Non-League Champions of Champions Cup
- Winners: 1972–73, 1976–77
- East Anglian Cup
- Winners: 1960–61
- Central Alliance League
- Champions: 1961–62
- United Counties League
- Champions: 1965–66
- West Midlands League
- Champions: 1966–67, 1967–68
- Eastern Professional Floodlit Cup
- Winners: 1971–72
- FA Trophy
- Runners-up: 1984–85
- Southern League
- Runners-up: 1998–99
- Northern Premier League
- Runners-up: 1995–96, 1997–98
- Northern Premier League
- Runners-up: 1996–97
- FA Cup 3rd Round replay – 11,000 vs Derby County (9 January 1974)
Biggest FA Cup Win
- FA Cup Preliminary Round – 10–0 vs Bilsthorpe Colliery (18 September 1937)
Club Football League Records
- Biggest win – 6–0 vs Shrewsbury Town (21 December 2002)
- Heaviest defeat - 9–2 vs AFC Fylde (19 November 2016)
- First club to start on fewer than 0 points.
Biggest FA Cup away win for a non-league side against League opponents:
- FA Cup 2nd Round – 1–6 vs Derby County (10 December 1955)
- "Derby County 1 Boston United 6". Classic Encounters. Boston United FC. 10 December 1955. Retrieved 22 October 2010.
- "Evans & Raynor leave Boston roles". BBC Sport. 27 May 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
- "Boston await news on League fate". BBC Sport. 7 May 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2007.
- "BREAKING: Boston United set to start work on new stadium, next season to be their last at York Street". Boston Standard. 10 April 2019. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
- "Boston United vs. Chorley - 5 December 2020 - Soccerway". uk.soccerway.com. Retrieved 29 January 2021.
- "League confirm Boston deduction". BBC Sport. 18 May 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
- "Boston United and Chestnut Homes – The Details So Far". Boston-United.com. 4 July 2007. Archived from the original on 9 April 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2007.
- "Chestnut Homes Take Over Boston United – Press Conference in Full". bufc.co.uk. 4 July 2007. Retrieved 8 March 2009.
- "Boston United – Historical Football Kits". Historicalkits.co.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
- "Evans signs off in second place". Boston United official website. 27 May 2007. Retrieved 28 May 2007.