Slow start cost us! On the 30th anniversary of Boston United’s Wembley appearance, goalscorer Chris Cook looks back at what might have been

Chris Cook scores at Wembley.
Chris Cook scores at Wembley.

“We were still waving to our families in the stands up to half time,” admitted Chris Cook, looking back on Boston United’s FA Trophy defeat.

Monday marked the 30th anniversary of the Pilgrims’ only ever trip to Wembley, which ended in a 2-1 defeat to Gola League champions Wealdstone.

And despite the passing of three decades since walking out on the Wembley turf on May 11, 1985, Cook still believes that had United not let the occasion get to them early on then the outcome just may have been a little different.

“I remember walking out and waving to all our fans,” Cook reflected.

“It was just such a massive occasion that, especially for the younger lads in the side, it just took over everything really.

“Before we knew it we were 2-0 down, it was half time and Arthur (Mann, manager) and Ray O’Brien (assistant) were giving us a rollicking.

“Arthur told us to get out there and sort ourselves out and get back into the game as quickly as we could.”

Sloppiness had left the Pilgrims with a second-half mountain to climb.

Andy Graham put the favourites 2-0 up in the second minute and Lee Holmes added a second before the interval.

It could have been game over had Kevin Blackwell, the former Leeds and Sheffield United manager, not pulled off a penalty save to deny Dennis Byatt

The second half saw United find their stride and Cook gave the Pilgrims some hope as he lobbed home a 50th-minute strike - making him the only Boston United player to ever score at Wembley.

“It was a good long ball,” Cook reminisced.

“It was aimed for me and I had a little bit of pace and I got behind the centre halves and keeper and I just lobbed it over the top of the keeper.

“We were back in the game. “We gave it our all in the second half, and I think that’s what is so disappointing about it.”

Boston thought they had levelled in the 85th minute, only for Dave Gilbert’s effort to be adjudged offside.

Cook - who made his debut for the club as a 16-year-old and who now, 36 years later, sits on the board of directors - scored 181 times in more than 400 appearances for the club.

But the one goal which will always stick in his mind, and the minds of United fans, was that goal in the shadows of the Twin Towers.

“I never prepared any celebrations. I just enjoyed the moment of scoring a goal,” he said.

“It wasn’t until afterwards that it kicks in that you scored at Wembley.

“It was fantastic, but you don’t realise that at the time. Some top players have never been able to do that.”

A copy of that famous photo of Cook’s strike hangs in the back room of his Main Ridge print shop, offering a reminder of his playing days.

But the striker admits that - although he occasionally watches the match highlights back on YouTube - he has a funny relationship with that moment in his life.

“It embarrasses me when people start to talk about it, but it’s great to know people do know and have their own memories of the day,” Cook told The Standard.

“It was a proud, proud moment and nice to see it had been caught on camera.”

Cook - who celebrated reaching Wembley by sharing a bottle of champagne with his nan - says his other favourite memory of that day remains the ride towards the stadium.

He added: “All the fans were down Wembley way and that was brilliant. It was a sea of amber and black flags, rosettes and scarves.”