BROWNE ON THE BALL: Polite applause... but is winning everything?

AT 4.50pm on Saturday, referee Guy Stretton blew his whistle. Game over.

The official signalled the end of the contest as Boston United suffered a 2-0 home defeat to Hyde United.

But what happened next was a rarity you so rarely see at the Jakemans Stadium, many of the home supporters staying behind to applaud both teams off the pitch.

Yes, this can be done when a plucky side are defeated or even when a hammering has been dished out to the home side.

But with a scoreline like this?

In the League Two days Grimsby Town and Carlisle United’s players and staff looked appreciative, if not a little embarrassed, after they were firmly applauded down the tunnel after dishing out 6-1 and 5-0 thumpings to the home team.

The same treatment was handed out to the brave boys – yes, they were boys – of Durham after their 10-0 thrashing in the UniBond Premier.

Last season Hyde were warmly received, as were Harrogate, after both strugglers forced draws away at a Boston side with sights set firmly on promotion.

But, this weekend, Hyde received the same treatment for a narrow, although deserved, victory. Proof, if ever it was really needed here, that Boston United fans want to be entertained, and will be fully appreciative of, not only a good opposing team who play the right way, but a home side that just has a flipping good go at it.

It was a real rarity that for once the players seemed down after a defeat while their mood wasn’t replicated by the majority of the support. Instead, most fans seemed to shrug and suggest they were proud their team went for it.

But, as I said, this is a rarity, and things will not remain that way. It was the former American Football coach Vince Lombardi who famously said: “If winning isn’t everything, then why do we keep score?”

It was that attitude that saw him take the Green Bay Packers to five league championships (and two Superbowls) in seven years.

Post-match on Saturday, Jason Lee didn’t come out with a soundbite quite as memorable. But he didn’t reflect the fans’ attitude, he stated he wanted better, the sloppy mistakes must go and the team need to start scoring more goals.

Boston’s rise to the Football League came through Steve Evans’ sales pitches, selling the club to a group who were too good for the level they signed on to play at.

Boston’s last promotion is, however, the blueprint for a side with an average budget to succeed with. Rob Scott and Paul Hurst were rarely happy. A 5-0 win would still have them asking questions of a few players’ decisions. They never accepted mediocrity.

On Saturday, neither did Jason Lee. The fans’ reception will offer a morale boost to a team who showed heart but received nothing. Meanwhile, the managers’ call for improvement should mean that hunger and desire is evident against at Gainsborough and, possibly, with a better outcome.