BROWNE ON THE BALL: A new ‘clasico’ to get Boston United fans excited

Ashley Timms can't get to Izak Reid's free kick at Brackley.
Ashley Timms can't get to Izak Reid's free kick at Brackley.

Few things in sport are as tense, as exciting and as thrilling as a footbal rivalry.

They could be formed by religion (Celtic-Rangers), geography (Tottenham-Arsenal), proud histories (Juventus-Milan) or even a class system (Olympiakos-Panathanaikos).

Sometimes politics comes into play. The bitter hostilities when Southampton meet Portsmouth and Sheffield United face Nottingham Forest stem back to times when workers from one city moved in to fill the void left by those taking part in industrial action.

In Eastern Europe, they take their politics that step further. In Moscow their clubs represent the powers: CSKA the army, Spartak the unions, Lokomotiv the Communists, Dynamo the KGB and Torpedo the car manufacturers.

Arguably, the greatest rivalry of all comes in the shape of El Clasico - Real Madrid versus Barcelona.

This is Spain’s meeting of very different minds.

Madrid, the club with royal approval, and Barcelona, the capital of the independent-thinking Catalans. The mega-rich Galacticos against the home of La Masia, the sport’s greatest academy.

But one thing both these clubs can agree upon is the fact that neither club would be as strong, or as driven or even as purposeful without the other.

To reach greatness, every hero needs a nemesis equally as strong. This is Rocky and Ivan Drago, Robin Hood and the Sheriff of Nottingham, Bjorn Borg and Jimmy Connors, Captain Mainwaring and ARP Warden Hodges.

Take the hate, the needless violence and constant internet trolling out of the equation, and a football rivalry gives you sport in its purest, most brilliant form.

Over the years Boston United have had their fair share of rivalries.

Kettering Town, Barrow, Runcorn, Wigan Athletic have all been foes because the clubs were all big fishes in a medium-sized semi-pro pond.

On promotion to the Football League, geography dictated Lincoln City, Grimsby Town and Scunthorpe United become instant enemies.

Relegation then dictated that Gainsborough Trinity instantly became the foe, for exactly the same reason.

But the greatest rivalries are often built, not on boundaries, but mutual respect.

Boston versus Guiseley has become a major attraction in recent years, purely because both sides hit their peak at the same time, challenging at the top of the UniBond Premier and then the Conference North.

It was two top teams promising a feast of football, where the outcome was never assured. In recent seasons, one side may have had the edge, but the respect and challenge has remained.

It’s still one of the first fixtures you look for each summer isn’t it?

And now a new rival is emerging in the shape of Brackley Town. The two clubs have only met four times in their history, all in the past two seasons.

After Boston shocked their hosts by winning the first contest 2-0, the Saints have enjoyed three straight victories.

But last season’s 4-3 defeat (where both sides missed a penalty), the 2-0 loss of three weeks ago and Saturday’s 3-2 reverse (in which four players took turns in goal) have been as memorable as they have been crazy as they have been tight.

This week I put it to Spencer Weir-Daley that I thought United couldn’t wait to play Brackley at home and get some revenge.

He replied: “We just want to play them again, anywhere.”

That attitude proved this is a match the club are already up for, a new foe, a benchmark by which to test yourself, by which to give your season even more focus.

It also proved that this Boston United side are fearless, that defeat is nothing more than a minor slip up.

If you ask me, that’s a sign of a top side in the making.