BROWNE ON THE BALL: As similar as chalk and cheese, but are Graham Drury and Jason Lee’s Boston United results that different?

Was it that bad? After just 45 minutes of action at Altrincham, Steve Spriggs is back in the arms of his Linnets teammates.
Was it that bad? After just 45 minutes of action at Altrincham, Steve Spriggs is back in the arms of his Linnets teammates.

The Crazy Frog song. Adults who wear white ties with black shirts. The TV show Miranda. Boston United’s defending at Altrincham.

What do the above all have in common, I hear you ask?

Well, they’ve all got to the stage where they were so bad they actually became funny.

Nostalgia means we can now hear that godawful ring-ding sound and raise a smile, instead of putting our foot through the radio straight away.

We’ve got beyond the point of being annoyed by the distant cousin who turns up at the wedding dressed as Al Capone, but has all the social charm of Al Murray.

Instead, we sympathetically join the other chaps around the bar and chuckle at his expense as he rides an invisible horse across the dance floor, smugly believing himself to be the first man ever to drunkenly immitate the Gangnam Style dance.

Talking to the camera in an aside only works if you’re A) Frankie Howerd or B) Frankie Howerd.

The jokes are poor. The sexual tension between Miranda and the handsome chef chap is about as realistic as when Bobby came back in Dallas. But yet you’ll probably not have had that much smoke coming out of your ears when the missus flicks the channel to BBC One.

And then there’s Boston United.

Tuesday night’s 7-1 rodgering at Altrincham was woeful. The team ethic had the togetherness of (to quote ex-Standard sports writer Ian Mitchell) Laurel and Costello.

But by the time my car pulled up at home at 2am the following day, the gallows humour had well and truly kicked in.

You had to laugh. It beats crying.

So - when Altrincham kindly uploaded the match highlights onto the web for the world to see this week - Pilgrims fans were at the stage where they were ready to sit down with a tub of popcorn as if the Life of Brian was on the box.

And, let’s be honest, the highlights do the Pilgrims no favours. Especially the painful slo-mos.

The ease in which Damian Reeves brushed off Gareth Jelleyman for goal number one.

The space Duncan Watmore was afforded to get his speed up before running at and beyond Tom Ward for number two.

The way a simple one-two left three defenders standing still - as if they had a scarecrow’s pole up their shorts - for Watmore’s goal.

The lack of a real challenge on Richman as he headed home number four.

These moments should be screened on Dave on Thursday nights.

They’d raise more of a laugh than that Argumental thing they used to show with Rufus Hound in it.

And that was just the first half... or the whole of Steve Spriggs’ United career if you choose to look at it that way.

Three minutes after the intermission and Boston had - like Baldrick after a chat with Edmund Blackadder - not learned a single lesson.

Scott Leather made it five with a 20-yard strike which, although acurate, didn’t have the pace to cover United stopper Dan Haystead in glory.

But you can’t be too harsh on the last line of defence.

He wasn’t given too much protection considering the eight-pass move, which involved the Alty keeper and saw Leather set the ball rolling inside his own half, that led to the goal.

It makes you think of words such as hot, butter and knife.

Then, for numbers six and seven, the marking was almost non-existent as Reeves and Ryan Brooke found the net.

However, like all good comedies the biggest laugh is saved for the end.

And the star of the show has to be Nicky Clee for the hilarious way he fell to the floor clutching his face after Gary Silk gave him a shove.

If James Corden can win a BAFTA for Best Comedy Performance then this man should be getting his tux dry cleaned.

This type of play-acting is too much for me, and despite his faux agony being very good, this will never get to the stage of being funny.

If you’re big and tough enough to kick things off by putting your hands on someone, then you should be big and tough enough to stand and take on the situation your actions have got you in to, rather than lead ballooning it.

But anyway, I’m getting distracted.

So what does this 7-1 thrashing mean?

Is Graham Drury out of his depth? Has he lost the dressing room? Are his lower-league signings frankly just not good enough?

Well, early stats would say the answer to those questions is.... drum roll please.... no!

Comparing Drury’s first seven games to Jason Lee’s first seven games of the season (his first seven as outright manager and not joint boss) shows that not too much has changed.

Lee’s record reads WWLLLLW.

Drury’s run is DWLDLWL.

Lee won nine points from seven matches. Drury is - after seven games - just a single point behind, but has actually lost less matches.

Lee led his side to victory over Droylsden, Histon and Colwyn Bay, who are now three of the sides in the bottom four.

Incidentally, bottom side Hinckley won their only match of the BSBN campaign to date during Lee’s opening seven games.

And another team to beat Boston in that run of four losses were Bishop’s Stortford, who are currently just one place above Histon.

Drury’s sequence saw his victories come against Oxford City and Colwyn Bay, both of whom are currently below United in the standings.

In fact, the only times Drury has led a side out against teams higher in the structure were against Harrogate and Altrincham.

And let’s be honest, both opponents couldn’t have been more comfortable against UnIted if they were in their slippers, drinking a brandy and listening to a pan pipes CD.

So from this, what can be deduced?

Well, personally, I think these stats just emphasis what many observers have felt for the past two seasons: that no matter who is in charge, this Boston United side just lacks any form of consistency.

You cannot argue there is quality throughout this squad.

But whether these talented individuals can form a matchwinning unit is anybody’s guess.

On the day, you just can’t tell whether you’ll get the Jekyll or Hyde United until the ref blows his whistle.

They’re the only side to have beaten stand-out league leaders Chester.

Thay’re the only side to lose to stand-out relegation fodder Hinckley.

Drury - in his furious post-match interview at Altrincham (incidentally, under Lee United lost 6-1 at Moss Lane last term) - said he cannot be judged until the summer, when he has had a proper crack at moulding his own team.

Of course, many of the targets he wants in now may not wish to change allegiances mid-season, especially when handed the chance to join a club that doesn’t have a title to play for.

But until then, his job is to get the best out of the players he has, just as it’s the players’ job to give their best.

Jason Lee tried not to publically criticise his players, certainly never individually.

So it may be a shock for the Pilgrims squad to hear their new boss labelling them ‘totally embarrassing’ - even if some listeners would suggest those words are justifield following a 7-1 seeing to.

But that should not affect their ability.

Whether they like it or not, footballers - like the rest of us - are paid to do a job, irrelevant of what we think of the boss.

Jason Lee and Graham Drury are polar opposites - chalk and cheese, north and south, Chandler and Joey.

But after seven games, they have ground out very similar results.