BROWNE ON THE BALL: Can Boston United’s young guns continue to shoot down the opposition?

Dennis Greene.
Dennis Greene.

It’s been one of those weeks where even the grumpiest curmudgeons going would struggle to begrudge David Newton and Neil Kempster a quick sip of champagne.

Last Tuesday the Pilgrims chairman and vice-chairman witnessed Boston Borough Council give the thumbs up to their plans for for a new stadium, retail park and housing development - by an overwhelming majority of 10-2.

Four days later, Boston United kicked off their Vanarama North campaign with victory over title-favourites Barrow - by a very narrow scoreline of 2-1.

The first of this week’s successes owed much to dedication, hard work and an experienced team.

The second came down to dedication, hard work and an inexperienced team.

Messrs Newton and Kempster have been in the property development business for many years, stretching back to when a number of the footballers they currently employ were still in nappies, if even born at all.

But on the pitch, the battles of the Vanarama North are new challenges to many of Dennis Greene’s squad.

Michael Hollingsworth made his senior debut at the weekend.

Goalscoring hero Chris Dickinson played his first-ever match with his new teammates on that day.

With Marc Newsham - still very much with time on his side at just 27 years of age - sidelined, Scott Garner, Rene Steer and Jamie McGhee became the team’s elder statesmen on Saturday.

And with all three still waiting for their 25th birthdays, they’re hardly at an age where pension schemes, grey hairs going to the bathroom in the middle of the night are top of the agenda.

The average age of United’s starting XI on Saturday was 21.

The average age of the squad is just 21.

Now just because Manchester United’s Class of ‘92 made Alan Hansen’s ‘you can’t win anything with kids’ comment come back to haunt him, it doesn’t mean that every youth club assembled will go on to lift a title.

Indeed, Newsham is the only member of this squad to have played three full seasons at the testing Conference North level.

Many of Greene’s team are yet to experience a match at Colwyn Bay or Hednesford Town, this division’s equivalent of a wet Tuesday night in Stoke.

But the club’s recruitment policy is a very clever one.

Investing in promising young talent ensures - more often than not, if your manager has an eye for a good player - you can pack your squad with fearless and lively players who don’t command the highest wages and who don’t have their creaking knees telling them they’re unable to play two matches in a week.

There is a downside, of course.

If your young squad finds itself challenging at the top of the table then higher-league clubs come knocking.

But the Pilgrims - perhaps learning their lesson with Ricky Miller’s departure - have started trying to hold onto their promising stars with longer contracts.

And if success can be achieved, then you are also more likely to make your young players want to keep coming back rather than having their heads turned.

Add to that the fact that - if the Secretary of State is happy to give his approval to The Quadrant development - the Pilgrims could well be moving into an exciting new stadium before half of this squad are even as old as Newsham, and there’s another reason for optimism.

There are many twists and turns left in this season, let alone the next four years.

But there is a renewed sense of optimism creeping in at Boston United.

If I was Newton and Kempster I’d probably keep some of that bubbly on ice.

Just in case.