Boston turf, African style! When touring teams came to play the Pilgrims

Stuart Balmer in action against the Bullets.
Stuart Balmer in action against the Bullets.

Drogba. Toure. Adebayor. These are just some of the top names football fans are currently looking out for in the African Cup of Nations.

But over the years, supporters haven’t always had to sit in front of the television to see African football on show.

In the summer of 2003, Boston United - preparing for their second season in the Football League - hosted touring side the Bakili Bullets in a pre-season friendly.

On that day, Scott Brough, Neil Redfearn and Graham Potter found the net as Neil Thompson’s Pilgrims drew 3-3 with the champions of Malawi.

The Bullets’ goalscorers were Fisher Kondowe, Kondwani Numdwe and James Chilapondwa.

But a more intriguing contest came in September 1956, when York Street played hosts to a touring Ugandan XI.

“The Ugandians’ main fault was over-eagerness to chase the ball,” commented The Standard, on the away side’s misgivings.

“They were far too easily drawn out of position by an opponent with the ball at his feet.”

Meanwhile, the game also threw up a big quirk in the two sides’ differing styles.

The paper added: “Two or three of the visitors preferred to play barefooted, and their speed was quickly appreciated.”

However, that lack of footwear didn’t help the away side, who too often played a short pass on the heavy Boston turf.

The game was a rare treat for United fans at the time as it was played under floodlights, which had only been installed the previous year.

The game resulted in the Pilgrims recording a 6-1 victory.

Boston scored through Johnny Birbeck (three), Reg Howlett, Geoff Hazledine and an own goal from Seruwagie.

Uganda’s goal came from a penalty, which was partly saved by David Paul in the Boston goal.

However, Temaligwe found the net from the follow up.