It’s 1,000 not out! Goalkeeper Paul Bastock marks landmark league appearance after a glittering career with Coventry City, Cambridge United, Boston United, St Albans, Rushden and Diamonds and St Neots

Paul Bastock marked his 1,000th match with a guard of honour, similar to the one awarded to him by Boston United before his 2001 testimonial.
Paul Bastock marked his 1,000th match with a guard of honour, similar to the one awarded to him by Boston United before his 2001 testimonial.

Paul Bastock admitted he is still ‘proper buzzing’ after making his 1,000th league appearance on Saturday.

The goalkeeper - affectionately known as Bazza - reached the milestone this weekend as his St Neots Town side earned a 2-1 victory over Banbury United.

Paul Bastock.

Paul Bastock.

It took an 87th-minute goal to settle the contest, but it was a fitting end to the day for the 44-year-old who made his debut between the sticks as a 17-year-old with Cambridge United.

“It was one of those days where you kept thinking ‘don’t drop a clanger’,” he admitted.

“You don’t want your 1,000th game to be remembered as the one where you chucked one in.

“But it was a great day. I’m proper buzzing.”

Bastock’s career has seen him wear the number one jersey for teams such as Kettering Town, Fisher Athletic, Dagenham and Redbridge, St Albans City, Rushden and Diamonds, Worksop Town and Royston Town, as well as a spell in Malaysia with Sabah.

And although he cannot pick out one match from those 1,000 as his most memorable, he says the 2002-03 campaign with Boston United was his stand-out season.

“We were in the Football League and we started on -4 points,” said Bastock.

“But we had a real togetherness. Staying up that season was a massive achievement.

“That’s the season I’ll always remember the most.”

The weekend’s landmark appearance meant Bastock had to spend Sunday shopping for a new cabinet, one which could hold the commemorative trophies handed to him by St Neots and St Albans, a group of whose supporters switched allegiances for the day to cheer on their cult hero.

And there will be plenty more memories to be placed in that cabinet from a career which has included winners’ medals from the FA Youth Cup, Dr Martens League, Football Conference and the Conference South play-off final.

His commemorative gloves - marking Saturday and his 650th appearance for the Pilgrims - will also be going on show in his Boston home.

“I haven’t played at the levels in the game I always wanted to, but I’ve been a fortunate goalkeeper,” reflected Bastock, whose shaven head, toothless snarl and white socks - a visual trick to make him appear larger to strikers looming in on goal - have become trademarks well known to fans up and down the country.

“I’ve had a lot of success and I’ve had more good games than bad ones.

“I feel privileged to have reached 1,000 games.”

Bastock may be comfortably in the twilight years of his career, but his son Callum - currently on the books of Grimsby Town - is looking set to carry on in his father’s footsteps.

And Bastock jnr, who has been there to cheer most of his father’s achievements, was even able to make it to game number 1,000 after the Mariners’ match was postponed, a pleasant twist of fate which wasn’t wasted on dad.

“I didn’t know he was going to be there until I spotted him when I was coming out of the tunnel,” said Bastock, who entered the match via a guard of honour.

“It was a great feeling that he could be there for the day.

“He’s my best mate and he’s been there for me, helping me warm up before matches.

“But it’ll turn around and I’ll probably be there doing the same for him soon.”

But what now for the man who nicknames himself the Old Cat?

Bastock may have made it to 1,000 - but he’s not out yet.

“As I always say, we’ll see how the body feels at the end of the season,” the keeper added.

“It feels fine right now and the desire’s still there burning away.

“We’ll just have to wait and see.”