“The lads celebrated, I took the bus back alone” - Peter Costello remembers Boston United’s Conference title win

Costello in action at Hayes.
Costello in action at Hayes.

IN THE second part of our look back at Boston United’s historic promotion to the Football League 10 years ago, sports editor Duncan Browne speaks to midfielder Peter Costello...

AS BOSTON United’s players, fans and staff celebrated lifting the Conference title, one man was going through the ‘strangest’ day of his career.

Peter Costello was the battling midfield mainstay who had just helped the Pilgrims to their, and his, second promotion in three seasons.

But while the champagne corks popped, Costello was unable to celebrate the most memorable final whistle in the club’s history, or what the squad call a night to remember.

Sadly, for Costello, it was a day of mixed emotions.

He’d won the Conference title, but he was red carded during the match, and then forced to travel home alone and miss the party, due to a family bereavement.

With just minutes of the second half played, and United leading 1-0 through Simon Weatherstone’s strike, Costello received his marching orders for a second bookable offence, something which still rankles to this day.

“Obviously, one moment springs to mind when I look back. My only red card for Boston,” he said.

“It was a fantastic day from start to finish.

“Boston fans took the place over for the day, and to win the title was something special.

“Everything was going well until I got sent off.

“We were 1-0 up when it happened. To be honest, I thought the ref was an absolute disgrace.

“I think he was trying to make a name for himself on Sky TV.

“He booked me for my first foul in the game. My second, I still don’t understand.

“I thought we’d won a corner and said ‘that was a corner’ and pointed.

“Apparently, that’s dissent in his eyes.”

As a fuming Costello made his way to the dressing room, what unfolded next left him unaware whether his sending off had caused a positive or negative impact.

He continued: “I remember going to the changing rooms and then hearing a loud cheer.

“I was praying it wasn’t the home fans.

“Fortunately, it was us and we won the game – and the league.”

Yes, that cheer had been Ray Warburton heading home number two, not 10-man Boston leaking a leveller, which would have handed Dagenham and Redbridge the title.

Costello’s feelings towards the day’s official are so strong as he never saw himself as the type of player to be given his marching orders.

He played a total of 127 matches for the Pilgrims over five seasons.

And despite being unrelenting in the challenge, and vocal to those around him, that was his only red card for the club.

But did being sent off take the gloss off winning the championship? “Not at all,” Costello responded.

“We won that over a whole season.”

But what did dampen his spirits was the news that his wife’s father had passed away the day before that historic 2-0 win.

“I’d been questioning whether I should even go to the game, but I knew I had to go. I had a job to do,” Costello admitted.

“But my wife was in bits, so I had to be with her.

“After the game, when all the lads stayed behind at the hotel to celebrate, I just got on the bus and went all the way back to Peterborough on my own.

“It was strange way to celebrate winning the league.”

That medal that accompanied Costello on the bus home was won on goal difference, a difference of 19 strikes.

But the midfielder believes Boston earned that title by their go-for-it attitude under manager Steve Evans.

He added: “You couldn’t accuse us of never trying in a game.

“We won the league on goal difference and I think much of the credit belongs to Steve.

“We were a team of leaders on the pitch. But as people will see in the dug-out, he never let up, he went at it until the end. That got the best out of us.

“We never settled for 1-0 and that probably proved the difference on the final day.”

Costello may be known as a midfielder to Pilgrims fans, but he had been a striker in the early days of his career with Bradford City, Rochdale, Peterborough United and Kettering Town.

However, he was converted to a central role while playing in Hong Kong and South Africa.

On his return, he teamed up with United, helping them to the Dr Martens and Conference titles, some of the best days of his career.

He added: “Boston was the best club I played for in my career.

“I enjoyed it at Bradford City as a youngster. But then you think things will last forever and don’t appreciate what you have.

“At Boston, I loved my time.”

However, that time came to an end approximately 12 months after that success at Hayes.

With Steve Evans replaced by Neil Thompson, following news that some of the United squad (not Costello) had been paid on dual contracts to evade tax payments, things changed at York Street for the player.

“I had a few in juries that season and even played a few matches at right back,” he added.

“That was different for me, but I was happy to be playing in the Football League.”

But his biggest regret on being released after one year in the Football League was not to give up playing at York Street, but to quit the coaching side.

He continued: “I was doing my coaching badges and working with the reserves and the kids.

“I was hoping there would be a role for me. But sadly I was let go at the end of the season.

“It was something I was really enjoying.

“Maybe it was because I was seen as one of Evans’ boys? I’ll never know.”