Sunday, 29 August 2010

Harrogate Town 3 Boston United 6

We don’t follow Boston United for the quiet life, but the past couple of weeks have been something else. Non-league football is a rollercoaster, but recent experiences have been like riding the big dipper naked, balancing a McFlurry while trying to read a Sunday supplement. On acid. Among many pointless topics discussed amongst the three musketeers en route to Harrogate was buying a cooler and filling it with cans of lager before the season starts, then leaving it in the Corsa so we are never without refreshment on our away trips. I might consider stashing some tranquilizers in the glove compartment for good measure too.

Last Saturday’s 9-0 win at Redditch was a fine performance (how could be anything else, it was 9-0) but the edge was taken off by Tuesday night’s disappointing 2-1 defeat to Nuneaton. So we’d be content with a solid display and a point from Harrogate then? Hell no. This was one of the most bizarre games I have ever parted with hard-earned cash to watch – how often do you score six goals away from home and come away feeling flat and negative?

It was nice to be heading north again. The previous couple of trips had taken us into unfamiliar hinterland territory known mysteriously as The Midlands, forcing latitudinal nose bleeds, navigational malfunctions caused by unfamiliar motorways and a requirement to speak properly. So it was pleasant to step out of the WonderCorsa at the CNG Stadium (I mis-read it as the CND but then remembered this was, of course, Yorkshire) and hear people omitting the definitive article, watching rugby league in the bar and actually understanding what was going on, and seeing a nice slope to the playing surface in the general direction of Wetherby. As Monsieur Pickwell pointed out, the touchline had been neatly trimmed, edged and hoed for the local twilight activity of ferret racing – clearly an example that commercialism in football has got out of control.

But with this being a new, superior division we had arrived in posh Yorkshire – an area of cream cakes, afternoon tea and country pursuits, not slag heaps, Bovril and grounds sponsored by the GMB. Harrogate had looked nice from the train on my sole previous visit and when I have more time, I would like to return and have a proper look. Maybe have a civilised cup of tea and a scone, instead of lager and a packet of KP nuts.

It’s worth dwelling on the action because it was an extraordinary first-half. Clearly being affiliated with Boston leaves a lasting, affectionate impression to judge by Harrogate’s defending. Matt Bloomer is an ex-Pilgrim, a name to forget from the last time we were in this league, unceremoniously dumped there by the FA, in 2007-2008. His nickname of Captain Clean doesn’t derive from an extra part in that Hollyoaks-style Daz advert but his refusal, game-after-game, to muddy his shirt by making a tackle for the cause. He didn’t last long at York Street and clearly hasn’t done any better for himself since. His ability was neatly summed up when, in the second-half, the Harrogate goalkeeper, whose sideline banter was well-practised, rolled out the ball to Bloomer and then buried his head in his hands in instant regret at what he had done. Captain Clean spooned the ball out of play, vindicating the general lack of faith in him. Alongside Daz-man was Richard Pell, a player born in Boston who went to my school, and Dominic Roma, a name from our Football League past who probably got a ten-minute run-out away at Chester on Tuesday night and little more but sticks in the mind because of his semi-continental name. Their generosity was quite befitting of Yorkshire.

Bloomer was left standing, as expected, for the opener as Shaun Pearson soared to send a header into the top corner before Pell, evidently daydreaming about a happy childhood in south Lincolnshire, gave something back with a bullet header own goal. Danny Davidson, who was meant to win the aerial duel with Pell but didn’t bother to jump, or indeed any centre forward, would have been very proud of the finish. Jamie Yates turned in the third before hot-shot Anthony Church added a fourth. Well, I assume these events occurred. I have had to rely on hearsay and various excitable and jumbled soundbites because I couldn’t see the goal line from where I was standing. It could have been one giant charade for all I know. I looked at my watch, attuned to Yorkshire time. Only 23 minutes had been played.

Before thoughts of eclipsing the nine scored last week could take root, Harrogate pulled one back through Liam Hardy. A posh-looking lady wearing a bonnet in the executive seating started got to her feet and started swaying like Delia. A steward with water retention told us she was wearing the hat to support a breast cancer charity. We felt instant remorse for loudly taking the piss out of her.

Spencer Weir-Daley’s gangsta walk looked a little laboured when forced to compensate for the right-wing incline but he had enough energy to notch the fifth and Semple, who had the freedom of the county on his flank, scored a sixth on the other side of Adam Nowakowski’s reply for Yorkshire. It was only just half-time, what a thriller. It was 6-2 if you’ve lost count.

Some quite improbably scorelines were being bandied about at the interval (10-2, 10-3, 7-6, 8-8) and you wouldn’t have been surprised with any of them. In the end, it was 45 minutes of absolute garbage. Boston found attacking uphill a bit too much and only made two chances, giving the 200+ travelling fans who had conquered some kind of car park (sorry, stand), very little to shout about. The game fell into monotony, highlighted only by chit-chat with the home goalkeeper and picking some chipped white paint off a fence, and it was little surprise when Hardy scored again to make it 6-3. Nine goals for the second Saturday in succession then, but it felt nowhere near as good this time.

Next Match: Boston United vs. Eastwood Town (Monday 30st August)

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