BROWNE ON THE BALL: Loan rangers are working out, but it’s not always been that way at Boston United

Liam Agnew was a loan signing which genuinely suited both clubs. EMN-140417-101449001
Liam Agnew was a loan signing which genuinely suited both clubs. EMN-140417-101449001

Steven Boyack had had enough.

After two appearances from the bench and one contest where he wasn’t used at all, the midfielder had finally forced his way into the Boston United starting XI, scoring in the 1-1 draw with Bristol Rovers and playing the full 90 minutes as the Pilgrims were beaten by Northampton Town.

But on March 5, 2005, there he was at Darlington’s ill-fated Reynolds arena - the final day of his loan from Livingston, and not even named in the squad.

Knowing that he wouldn’t have to face any reprisals for his actions he made a phone call.

By half-time his lift had arived and Boyack bid farewell to Scott Wiseman - the current Preston North End defender and Gibraltar international, who was another unused loanee that day - and headed home to Scotland.

Although an extreme example, Boyack’s stay at Boston United was proof that, when used poorly, the loan system can be an utter shambles.

And for a period at York Street during the Football League years it was just that, a time when new faces were brought in with unbelievable regularity.

The revolving door saw player after player from other clubs handed a squad number as the financially floundering Pilgrims were forced to beg, steal and borrow just to put a team out.

Some loans did work out very well, but if you fire a machine gun into a field then you’re going to hit the occasional sheep.

For every Ian Ross, Albert Jarrett, Peter Till, Michel Kuipers and David Noble there was always a Jermaine Brown, Eric Sabin, Kevan Hurst, Tam McManus, Stephen O’Donnell, Emanuele Gabrieli, Asa Hall, Jermaine McSporran, Nathan Joynes, James Keane, Bob Davidson, Wiseman or Boyack - players who were back home before they’d had a chance to gel with their new teammates, some hardly even given a chance and others not up to scratch.

Fortunately, things have changed a lot at York Street since those times and the loan system seems to be working out far better for the Pilgrims.

The link-up with Sunderland saw Liams Marrs and Agnew arrive last season and genuinely strengthen the squad, while offering those young lads the chance to cut their teeth in the man’s game, away from the easy-on-the-eye pleasantries of under 21s football.

It’s been a case of more of the same for Joel Dixon, yet another Black Cat, this season while both Paul Farman and Conner Robinson made positive contributions during their stays, also aiding parent club Lincoln City who now have two match-fit players at their disposal.

Notts County pair Greg Tempest and Kyle Dixon have also been able to use stints with Boston to rediscover their form and overcome injury, while also playing big parts in the team’s climb up the table.

Loans should work both ways.

Dennis Greene is also exploiting the system to make sure Stefan Galinski - currently down the pecking order but with more than enough talent to play his part in the club’s future - continues to play matches at Conference North level, a vital part of the player reaching his full potential.

Last season a similar tactic worked well to keep the out-of-favour Gary Mills playing regularly, but off the Pilgrims’ wage bill.

I can’t blame Boyack for his actions at all.

What he did made me laugh back then - and I still raise a smile when I think about his final well-stuff-you-then moment of defiance.

Going on loan and not getting games is a complete waste of time and money for all clubs concerned.

If Boyack wanted to spectate he could have done that at his own club, 320 miles away from Boston.

But when the system is used correctly, as United have recently shown, then everyone’s a winner.