BROWNE ON THE BALL: Water way to save some money

The planned new ground
The planned new ground

Sports editor Duncan Browne’s take on last week’s Boston United ground news...

If there’s one sure-fire way of me getting in trouble at home, it’s leaving the tap on.

It’s stiff, you see, and I never quite tug it with enough force. That means I’ll inevitably leave the bathroom once or twice a day, oblivious to the drip-drip-dripping I leave behind me.

The Boss - not the 9-to-5 one, but the all-important 24/7 boss I cherish and choose to spend my time with - hates this waste.

But as my ears ring and I promise to learn my lesson, I secretly shrug and think to myself: “It’s just a bit of water.”

That was until Boston United’s Fans’ Forum on Thursday night.

Forget these jazzy new stadium plans. Ignore the news that this club engages with a whopping 11,000 kids within the community. Try not to think that that, with manager Dennis Greene rocking up in his sheepskin coat and assistant Martyn Bunce flanking him in his Paul Weller mac, we had actually stumbled into a remake of Minder.

The one snippet that stood out to me most was when chairman David Newton announced that the club pays a water bill of £10,000 each year.

Yes, ten-flipping-thousand-blooming-pounds. Enough money to buy new car, take at least 10 holidays.

Certainly enough to pay the club’s wage bill for a couple of weeks... and more.

The reason for this is that - due to the nature of the stadium’s facilities - tap water is being used to sprinkle the pitch.

I love York Street. It was the first football stadium I ever visited. It feels like my second office. The location is perfect, its history even more so. It’s the place where Boston United’s past has been sculpted; where Jim Smith, Howard Wilkinson, Chris Cook, Paul Bastock, Martyn Hardy, Paul Ellender, even Paul Gascoigne, and so many more have wowed the crowds.

But as Newton spoke last week, I felt myself coming to terms with the fact it’s time to move on. Not just because the new plans do look shiny and exciting, but also because it’s necessary if this club wants to create more history.

“Every time it rains we fear there may be damage done somewhere and that we’ve got to find more money,” Newton said, suggesting the stadium is past its best before date. And that was without mentioning the £70,000 per year rent the club plays.

Leaving York Street and its familiar surroundings will doubtlessly hurt longstanding Boston United fans. But the cold, hard truth is that successful clubs are often the out-of-towners.

Burton Albion (the blueprint Boston often turn to) is a fine example. Other former rivals such as Swansea City, Hull City, Shrewsbury Town and Scunthorpe United have not looked back either.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything,” George Bernard Shaw famously said.

The one exception to the rule is Darlington... whose future crumbled after leaving Feethams. But that’s because the 25,000 capacity stadium George Reynolds built and then named after himself was little more than an ego trip.

I remember being horrified on a tour of the stadium when I was told the carpet leading up to the executive boxes - which most fans never got to see, let alone tread on - cost more than £600,000.

You don’t have to be a boffin to realise that a white elephant attracting crowds as small as 1,500 was unsustainable. Darlington folded and reformed. The stadium is now owned by the town’s rugby club.

That’s why Boston’s plans for a 4,300 capacity stadium are more sensible than grandiose.

Unlike Reynolds, Newton is more thinking-man than Ozymandius.

For the first time in a very long time, that feelgood factor seems to be encompassing Boston United again.

All this new-found excitement is making me thirsty.

I could do with a glass of water, but the problem is I daren’t turn the tap on.