SPORT FROM THE PAST: When Boston United beat Fulham

fighting fit! Back in 1979, Boston boxer Joe Dawson represented England in the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada.
fighting fit! Back in 1979, Boston boxer Joe Dawson represented England in the Commonwealth Games in Edmonton, Canada.

There may be five divisions separating Boston United and Premier League Fulham... but more than 70 years ago the teams were rivals.

Back in 1939, the club decided to boost revenue by joining the London Midweek League.

Along with Northampton Town and Peterborough United, they were the three teams of the nine-side league not from the capital.

And in March 1939, United set off for West London to compete in a Thursday night fixture.

The idea was to raise cash by bringing some of London’s top players to York Street.

But after 1,300 fans watched Brentford – with just one first-teamer in their side – Thrashed 5-1 at Shodfriars Lane, attendances soon dwindled to the low hundreds.

It didn’t take long for Boston to follow suit, playing amateurs and resting their star men in an attempt to improve their fortunes in the Midland League.

Again, that was the story as United set off for Fulham with a second-string side, being soundly thrashed 10-2.

But when Fulham – then of the Second Division – arrived in town for the return fixture, they were met by a much stronger United team.

Despite trailing to a goal from Fisher at the interval, Boston fought back to win 2-1, arguably their finest result in the competition.

Player-boss Fred Tunstall and Irvine Rhodes scored the two decisive goals for the home side.

For their final two fixtures, a weakened side was sent to Crystal Palace and Brentford, with Boston soundly beaten 0-8 and 0-7 respectively.

They ended the tournament in seventh place, ahead of Palace and Northampton. The league was won by Chelsea, whom Boston had beaten 4-1 in their away fixture.

The league failed to generate revenue, with the club finishing the season £1,138 in the red.

They promptly resigned from the league, although United were to meet Fulham again in a 2004 Carling Cup fixture at York Street, the Cottagers winning 4-1.