BROWNE ON THE BALL: A hair-raising family experience for Wilkinson

Ben Wilkinson.
Ben Wilkinson.

BEN Wilkinson. Footballer. Makeshift right back. Tourist.

This week the Pilgrims midfielder let slip the fact that he’s spent his time at the Jakemans Stadium doing a little sightseeing.

Now, apart from a Saturday afternoon, or the occasional Tuesday evening, there’s not a lot to see down York Street, unless you are a keen John Blackwell spotter.

That is, unless your old man is a former Boston player and England manager.

You probably know by now that Ben is the son of Howard, the man whose stint as player-boss with the Pilgrims saw the club lift two consecutive Northern Premier titles.

To many fans brought up on Pilgrims folklore, Wilkinson snr is a legend of almost superhuman proportions.

To Ben, however, something else about those photos stood out.

“I’ve seen some pictures of him here and taken shots of them to show him,” he said.

The reason? A trip down memory lane for the last Englishman to manage a side to top flight league glory?

Erm, not quite.

“His hair was absolutely terrible,” Ben added.

Now, the mid-length mudflap look sported in some of those old black and whites isn’t the coolest haircut by today’s standards. But we’ve probably all looked back at an old shot of ourselves and wondered what were we doing.

And to any other person eyeing up those shots of Howard, the do isn’t necessarily the first thing that stands out.

That would probably be the memories of watching Wilkinson play (for the older fans) or the dream of back-to-back title wins (for us young ones).

And that’s the real reason Ben Wilkinson is at Boston United right now.

Not to see the family album up on the Pilgrim Lounge wall, but to play football.

After a knee injury early in the season, he found himself out of favour, until a full back shortage saw him moved into right back.

Not his natural position, but one in which he is gaining confidence playing in with every passing match.

Midfielders playing right back, you have to admit, is not ideal. Perhaps not how a side wins back-to-back titles.

But when (or if) the injuries clear up, and players can compete fore their natural positions, things could improve massively for Boston United.

Footballers following in family footsteps have not always enjoyed the greatest of successes here. Names like Futcher and Bloomer spring to mind.

But in that interview, Wilkinson also admitted he doesn’t want to be knowhere as anything else but himself. He’s eager for his own success at Boston United.

Time will tell two things. Whether Wilkinson’s ambitions can be achieved, and whether his kids will grow up to think his current barnet looks a bit dodgy.