SPORT FROM THE PAST: When Shirtliff became Boston United’s record signing

Paul Shirtliff.
Paul Shirtliff.

Those were the days. How Boston United must be pining for the cash-flow they had to spend back in the summer of 1988.

Then, The Standard reported on the Pilgrims splashing out a club record £12,500 for Frickley’s England semi-professional right back Paul Shirtliff.

And if that sum wasn’t enough to make current chairman David Newton’s eyes go green with envy, then the following statement from manager George Kerr later in the story definitely would.

Discussing another five deals United were negotiating, he said: “We have at least £50,000 on the table at various places.

“Negotiations have still to take place, and I expect some of them will end up at a tribunal because of a difference of opinions.”

Ironically, it was a difference of opinions which saw United’s interest in left back Josh Wilde come to an end this summer. Boston weren’t willing to pay the money Gainsborough Trinity wanted for the defender.

In fact, since dropping out of the Football League in 2007, with the club cash-strapped and in debt, United have only paid one transfer fee.

That was the approximate £3,000 handed to Stamford for defender Shaun Pearson four years ago.

Prior to that, the last time the club went public about paying a fee for a player was in 2001, when they paid a club record £30,000 to bring Paul Ellender to York Street from Scarborough.

But back in 1988, the arrival of 25-year-old Shirtliff (who went on to make 179 appearances over four seasons) was viewed as a real coup.

The ex-Sheffield Wednesday man had been an ever-present in the England semi-pro side for the six matches since he was first picked for the Three Lions.

Shirtliff - who sadly died in 2009 after a battle with cancer - had previously turned down a £60,000 move to Lincoln City, as he wanted to remain semi professional.