BROWNE ON THE BALL: The finger of blame lies with Housham’s bad gag

Mark Jones celebrates his goal against Lowestoft - and flashes five fingers for good measure.
Mark Jones celebrates his goal against Lowestoft - and flashes five fingers for good measure.

The Pilgrims beat Lowestoft Town 4-1 on Saturday. But if you’re from Boston then you probably wouldn’t be able to count those goals on the fingers of one hand.

At least that’s what Steve Housham has suggested.

Yep, on Friday night the Gainsborough Trinity manager quite ridiculously told BBC Radio Lincolnshire that: “The only thing to be scared about from Boston is going out with the same amount of fingers you went in with.”

Of course, you may be forgiven for thinking the Blues boss was showing his admiration for the area’s hardworking landworkers and dockers, many of whom have had their fair share of accidents with cauli knives, machinery and overloaded crates over the years as they strived to feed the nation.

I’ve heard some fans suggest the townsfolk were being likened to thieves.

But anyone who’s stood on a terrace and heard disparaging chants spat out by rival supporters knows all too well what Housham was really getting at, a thinly-veiled suggestion that us people of the fens are all simpletons, born with differing digits due to years of breeding with siblings in some kind of alternative Hills Have Eyes existence.

Of course, his comments were crass and cheap. But his words also exposed just how bizarrely intense this Lincolnshire derby has become.

A total of 55 miles separate the two clubs - that’s four miles more than the length of Luxembourg - yet defeat hits home just as much as it does for any fixture, if not more.

This has become one contest that both sets of supporters - and players - do not want to lose.

Housham opted not to apologise on air, even after being invited to do so by host Rob Makepeace, but he has since retracted his comments and said sorry, as did Trinity via their club website.

The Gainsborough manager said he was guilty of bottling up his anger at Boston boss Dennis Greene’s post-match comments that the Blues approached their recent 1-0 defeat to United in a negative manner - which was at least more honest and admirable than wheeling out the tired old ‘it was just banter’ line.

And Housham’s need to make an attack on the people of Boston, when his beef was with a bloke from the East End of London, shows just how much this contest means to the man who now manages his home-town club, and just how much that defeat hurts.

If anything, Pilgrims fans should take pride in the fact that their victory, and their club can provoke such a reaction, rather than care too much about what was said.

Of course, Housham’s words were churlish, needless and perhaps the biggest crime of all was that when you attempt to crack a joke you need to make sure you are both original and, most importantly, funny.

Indeed, I’m more offended by the calibre of the gag than anything else.

Housham may yet be looking at some form of disciplinary action.

But one thing is for sure, the next time these two sides meet the contest becomes even more personal and the stakes will be even higher.

And on that day, I’m guessing those fans from south Lincolnshire will need just one finger to tell Mr Housham exactly what they think of his quip.