BROWNE ON THE BALL: Ian Ross - his rise from skinny kid to Boston United centurion

Ian Ross.
Ian Ross.

Saturday, August 28, 2005: That date may not mean a lot to many Boston United fans.

If I said that on that day Danny Thomas and Alan White found the net in a 2-2 draw at home to Mansfield Town, would that make it mean any more to you?

The answer is probably not.

However, the significance of that occasion was that a 19-year-old by the name of Ian Ross made his debut for Boston United.

The lad who replaced Stewart Talbot in the heart of midfield that day was still growing into his frame.

He may have appeared a little skinny, the kind of kid who a League Two veteran would happily brush off the ball.

But boy, he couldn’t half play football.

The previous Tuesday, Ross had scored the only goal of the game as a youthful Sheffield United side knocked the Pilgrims out of the Carling Cup.

He was the stand-out player that match, so there was plenty of anticipation when he arrived at York Street on loan.

And it didn’t take long for him to force his way into the hearts of the amber and black faithful, confidently marking his first start - a mere two days after that draw at Mansfield - by finding the net.

United may have lost 3-2 at Northampton Town that day, but Ross’ goal was anything but a load of Cobblers.

With United trailing 3-1 late in the game, he reduced the arrears by finding the net with a strike from the edge of the penalty area, something which has become a trademark.

But then, after 16 appearances, four goals and one League Two Player of the Month award, he returned to Sheffield United, never to be seen again.

Or so we thought.

After leaving the Blades, Ross had spells with Notts County, Rotherham United, Gainsborough, Alfreton Town (who he helped to the Blue Square Bet North title) and Harrogate Town, before returning to York Street in 2011.

Last season, defeat at Gloucester City saw Ross’ former teammate and good friend Jason Lee lose his job as Boston United manager.

This season, Boston returned to Whaddon Road with a point to prove - and Ross marked his 100th appearance for the club with another superb strike, plus two assists, as the Pilgrims won 3-1.

Ross is far from the first player to reach treble figures at York Street (he’s a few years away from Paul Bastock’s record of 679), but that should take nothing away from his landmark appearance.

His matchwinning performance on Saturday, plus his late goal in midweek, show the club captain is racking up the appearances on merit.

He may no longer be the skinny teenager exciting the Football League. But boy, he can still play.