Looking back: 10 years on from Boston’s riot

Ten years ago today (June 13), a sad chapter was written in the history of Boston as a riot broke out in the town.

The disorder, thought to have involved about 100 people, followed England’s last-gasp defeat to France in their opening game of Euro 2004.

A scene from the riot. Photograph: Cameron Wilson. EMN-141206-162842001

A scene from the riot. Photograph: Cameron Wilson. EMN-141206-162842001

For this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, police have said they do not expect any trouble in Boston at all - never mind of the scale seen a decade ago and indeed all major football tournaments since have passed off peacefully in the town.

Speaking to The Standard this week about the police operation for the tournament, Lincolnshire Police’s Asst Chief Constable Lee Freeman said: “We have had several major events since that one incident some years ago. We have got no concerns about Boston whatsoever.”

Standard editor Stephen Stray, who was out in the town reporting the aftermath of the riot, said: “Seeing the damage done by that day 10 years ago was one of the saddest episodes I have encountered in my time in journalism.

“It’s been heartwarming to see that we have not had any repeats of such incidents.

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“The anniversary offers us a chance to reflect on that day and repeat the strong and clear message of the time. Never again.”

Coun Paul Kenny, quoted in our coverage at the time, said: “I think this was beyond football but I think the dialogue in the local community has moved on and people who do have strong views can air them in public.

“I am pleased that that sort of issue seems to have gone away but all I would say is we should be mindful.”

Of the incident in 2004, The Standard wrote: “Boston town centre burned in a blaze of shame as mob rule took over on Sunday night.”

Two police cars were overturned and torched, more than 20 shop front windows were smashed, town stores were looted and riot police were drafted in from across the county.

There were 11 arrests on the night, though no injuries.

Police believed racial tension had been an issue in the disorder, but said it was only one factor among many.

Chief Supt Phil Carter said at the time: “The fact is that there are many things going on in Boston, but as far as we are concerned the fact that it kicked off right after the football says it all.”

Speaking to The Standard following the incident, Boston and Skegness MP Mark Simmonds said:: “What happened was a toxic mix of heat, too much alcohol and England losing an important international football game.”

Coun Paul Kenny, a member of Boston borough and Lincolnshire county councils, was inside the town’s Assembly Rooms for the European Election count when the disorder took hold.

At the time, he said: “We all felt very uncomfortable and it wasn’t the Boston that we wanted to see. I certainly never want to see it repeated ever again.”

The gallery shows an image from the night and the scale of damage to the town’s businesses.