BROWNE ON THE BALL: Can Piergianni and Garner make it 200 Pilgrims appearances? You bet!

Carl Piergianni.
Carl Piergianni.

When Scott Garner and Carl Piergianni both joined Boston United in the summer of 2013, Dennis Greene believed he was putting together a central defensive partnership as strong as as any in the division.

It was there - as rocks in Pilgrims defence, both equally as eager to get up the other end and latch onto dead balls - that the pair decided to have an annual £20 bet to see who could score the most goals each season.

With scores of 8-5 and 7-5, Garner is currently £40 better off.

Undeterred by his dwindling bank account, Piergianni ensured the bet will run again this season, even if their roles within the club have gone different ways.

To this day, Piergianni - last season’s Player of the Year and twice named in the division’s best XI - commands that line in front of the Boston goal, virtually unbeatable in the air and unrelenting on the ground; like a modern-day Horatius holding the bridge and arguably the best defender in the National League North.

Indeed, Zak Mills once joked that playing alongside Piergianni makes you look a better player as he wins all the balls and it’s just his partner’s job to hang close and sweep up anything that comes loose.

Garner, in contrast, has become the Pilgrims’ ultimate utility man.

Whether asked to play as a target man up top, a defender or as an uncompromising ball-winning midfielder, he approaches each and every game like an excited eight-year-old full of E numbers on the last day of term.

The pair may have gone their separate ways within Dennis Greene’s line-up, but the similarities between these two mates, the captain and vice-captain, remain.

Most glaring of all is the fact that, if fit, they’re in the starting XI.

On Monday, both Garner and Piergianni made their 100th appearances for United during the 1-1 draw against Tamworth.

The results may not have been exactly what they wanted, but their performances - yet again - could not be questioned.

The fact that both notched up their 100th game from a possible 106 competitive matches proves just how valuable they are to the team, especially when you realise that just one of those 200 appearances came from the bench, and that was only because Garner was one booking away from missing the play-off semi-finals.

In little more than two seasons with United, Garner and Piergianni have more than played their parts in the club’s renaissance, and they’ve got the cuts, scars and blood-soaked bandages to prove it.

In case you were wondering, the overall goalscoring tally tally currently stands at 15-11 in Garner’s favour.

But perhaps these two should aim higher and stick £20 on who makes it to 200 appearances first.

Or maybe even who could pip Paul Bastock’s record of 679 competitive matches.

Wishful thinking, eh?