BROWNE ON THE BALL: Time for Boston United to end 42 years of FA Cup hurt

Howard Wilkinson was on target the last time United beat a league rival away from home in the FA Cup.
Howard Wilkinson was on target the last time United beat a league rival away from home in the FA Cup.

Mention the name Boston United in non-league circles and many a veteran supporter will conjure up images of a proud FA Cup history.

After all, this is the club which rammed six past Derby County in 1955 and, one month later, put up a brave fight before eventually succumbing away at Tottenham Hotspur.

In 1982, the Pilgrims held Sheffield United to a 1-1 draw and, in 1937, smashed double figures past Bilsthorpe Colliery. On that day Wilf Notley scored five times, half his side’s total on that occasion.

And these are just four games from a cracking list.

Yes, the FA Cup has had some very cliched FA Cup moments for Boston United.

You know what I mean, those times when you - as the underdog - cheered until you went hoarse, celebrating your home-town heroes giving those city slickers a jolly good rogering.

But there are two sides to every coin. And far too many times - especially in the modern era - Boston United have been lumbering Goliath’s, slaughtered by feisty little Davids.

Generally because David simply tried harder.

Almost as quickly as it takes Greg Fee to place a poor penalty kick at Chester, your dreams are over for another year.

Ten years ago, if I was to state names such as Canvey Island, Heybridge Swifts, Congleton or Aveley to you, you’d probably come out in a hot sweat.

Nowadays, words like Brigg Town, Kidsgrove Athletic and Lowestoft Town would bounce off you quicker than, well, pretty much anyone running into Tony Crane.

The problem is, Boston United have become all too accustomed to doing terribly in the FA Cup.

Give the squad an Oyster card and stick them on the Bakerloo Line - I bet you they’d still not end up any closer to Wembley.

The FA Cup is great because it gives you the chance to face sides from other divisions, to rekindle old romances or look for fresh love.

Sadly, on Saturday the Pilgrims are trudging off to Brackley Town, where they’ll return three weeks later for a Skrill North fixture.

I don’t have a problem with being drawn against a club in the same division - that’s just how the balls are plucked - but I do worry about United’s record in this competition against teams from the same division.

In recent seasons United have been dumped out of the FA Cup by league rivals Altrincham, Worcester City and Workington.

The last time Boston did away with a league opponent in the competition was six years ago, when they beat Hinckey United.

But that was a home match.

On Saturday the Pilgrims travel to St James’ Park. And the last time Boston beat a league rival away from home in the FA Cup was... drum roll... November 20, 1971.

To put that into perspective, when Howard Wilkinson, Bobby Svarc and Robbie Coates scored in a 3-0 win at Ellesmere Port, none of this current squad were born and manager Dennis Greene was just starting school.

In between that victory over Ellesmere Port and the success at home to Hinckley, Macclesfield Town, Burton Albion, Runcorn (twice), Welling United, Kettering Town, Nuneaton, Goole and Lancaster City have all booted Boston out of the competition while playing in the same division.

With so many changes in personnel over those years, it’s impossible to figure out a formula as to why this record is so rubbish.

You can only guess the club have failed to get the adrenaline pumping against more familiar foes.

In recent seasons, United’s FA Cup runs have been more Ben Wilkinson and less Howard Wilkinson.

Come on, even for just one weekend, let’s have some of the old magic back.