BROWNE ON THE BALL: Bazza was a Rolling Stone! World record-breaker Paul Bastock is more Keith Richards than Brian May

Paul Bastock.
Paul Bastock.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

It’s not a phrase I like to use after becoming increasingly aware of how the giddy warmth of nostalgia continues to rewrite our own history the older we get.

But two recent things have made me start to re-evaluate that.

The first was watching the reboot of Porridge on BBC One (but the less I dwell on this the better).

The second was the delightful news that Paul Bastock had broken Peter Shilton’s world record 1,249 club appearances after turning out for Wisbech in the FA Vase this weekend.

People round these parts don’t need telling about Bazza, your friendly neighbourhood window cleaner, footie coach, golfer, bloke at the bar and evergreen goalkeeper.

Paul Bastock.

Paul Bastock.

But plenty of you won’t mind hearing how truly remarkable his achievement is just one more time.

To put the Old Cat’s career into perspective, he made his senior debut for Cambridge United as a 17-year-old almost 30 years ago, on March 25, 1988.

Back then Aswad were top of the charts, Liverpool were top of the First Division and Lionel Messi was three months away from his first birthday.

In the time since, the 47-year-old has religiously donned the gloves season after season to chalk up his remarkable record with 17 different teams - that’s more clubs than he drags in his bag around Boston Golf Club on a Sunday morning.

Paul Bastock.

Paul Bastock.

And, like any record, it doesn’t come by chance.

It comes with that rare ability to match natural talent with hard work and dedication.

It’s no fluke that, as he approaches his 50th birthday, Bazza still has the type of fitness levels and physique most of us never reached in our prime.

But along with those traits also comes the hunger.

Many a great goalkeeper knew when it was time to hang up the gloves, most because they just couldn’t do it any more.

But Bastock still can.

He’s not Brian May, all fuzzy mullet and open shirts, still trying desperately to cling on to those glory days.

Nope. He’s more of a Rolling Stone, still living it, doing it and breathing it because it’s in the blood.

The past three decades have seen the Cat win the FA Youth Cup with Coventry City, earn more promotions than Michael J. Fox in the Secret of My Success, claim international honours with the England C team and become Boston United’s all-time appearance record holder with 628 outings between the sticks.

It would be safe to assume Bastock is now closer to the end of his career than the beginning of it, but he’ll keep on adding to his record - and inspiring the next generation of kids in the dressing room - for this season, at least.

Will his record ever be broken?

As keepers become rightfully more protected and pitches evolve from ploughed fields into kind-on-the-knees carpets there may one day be someone with all the skills necessary to surpass the man of the moment.

But that’s not going to be for a very long time yet, and rightfully the present belongs to Bazza.

Ole white socks may have fewer hairs on his head and teeth in his mouth than when he made his first fingertip save, but he’s accumulated the kind of memories most footballers can only dream of.

They don’t make ‘em like they used to.