BROWNE ON THE BALL: John Blackwell, the man who helped save Boston United

John Blackwell.
John Blackwell.

David Newton is currently taking great pleasure in bowing before John Blackwell and addressing him as ‘Mr President’.

Of course, the Mickey taking which Boston United’s chairman is bestowing upon the outgoing general manager is meant in the most friendly and respectful of ways.

The new title is a reflection of the esteem in which John is held within the club and also the game in this country, and it is meant to bring a smile to the face of the man who has devoted almost four decades of his life to his club.

And when John looks back on his time at York Street, most probably with the tears welling in the eyes, he should also allow himself a huge grin for a job well done.

However, to be able to enjoy those highs, there have to be lows. And John has had more of those than a job should bring to any employee.

The fraud charges brought following Boston United’s promotion to the Football League, where it transpired that some players had signed dual contracts and full earnings weren’t being declared to HMRC, kick-started what could be seen as years of suffering for John and his family.

Indeed, the general manager was among those facing charges at Southwark Crown Court.

The case against John was eventually thrown out by the judge, but not before months and months of stressful waiting had been played out (the case was heard at court four years after the investigation began).

And by the time the Pilgrims were relegated from the Football League in 2007, they were broke and facing liquidation.

John and his wife Maureen, who also works for the club, went without any income for 12 weeks as they and other employees endeavoured to fight on.

But with no change in sight, John himself was convinced that this was the end.

In what he described as ‘the last throw of the dice’ he joined Barrie Pierpoint, at that time carrying out due dilligence on the club, in calling a public meeting, almost begging for a white knight.

John’s emotional plea that day played its part in convincing Newton that something had to be done and the rest, they say, is history.

The court case would have been the final straw for most. But for John, he didn’t turn his back on the club. Instead, he played a major role in saving it.

Becoming club President is an honour, but one John certainly deserves for what he has given Boston United... even if that does come with the occasional ribbing from the chairman.