This was a low. It may still be early in the season and things are meant to be gelling together and all that, but a home defeat to Vauxhall Motors is pretty embarrassing. I’d rank it up there with losing to Quorn in the FA Trophy a couple of years back.
Combine that with a dreadful attendance of just over 1,100 and we already have a pretty depressing outlook considering we’re not yet out of August. The increased ticket prices must be having an adverse effect and people are counting their change and thinking twice. This time last year, the first two home crowds were 1,604 against Stafford Rangers on the opening day and 1,681 against Nuneaton Town (midweek). This time, we had 1,222 against Histon the other night and 1,114 against Vauxhall. I refuse to believe that 400 more people have decided to go on holiday at this precise moment of the year from last season, and I don’t remember Stafford and Nuneaton packing the York Street End. People can’t keep paying out more and more.
I’m blinkered because obviously I’m happy to pay out £12 to watch Boston as they’re my side, but thinking about it comparatively, getting into York Street can cost twice as much as at away matches. Surely it’s not beyond the bounds of reason to offer a student rate as part of the concessions? I appreciate there isn’t a University of Boston and the Fens but the only other ground without some kind of discount last season was Corby Town. Frankly, it was a blessed relief when I’d forked out up to thirty quid on my train fare.
And those stayaways can’t argue that the on-field fare hasn’t, so far, been up to scratch. We won up at Workington and performed doggedly against a physical team, and were desperately unlucky not to beat Histon on Tuesday night. Unfortunately, this was not sustained against Vauxhall - it was truly abysmal, as though we hadn’t yet exited pre-season. I hate to be too pessimistic, but please don’t give those wavering over whether to hand over their £12 another excuse to stay in and watch Soccer Saturday.
The Town End is often the team’s Twelfth Man but on Saturday it was just a fountain of expletives. Everyone was royally pissed off and made their feelings known. Everyone in sight was abused - Vauxhall’s tattooed goalkeeper, the linesman, the referee, the four travelling fans, even the Fantasy Island elephant. There were four-lettered words I’d never even heard before. People who turned up after work at half-time had left by 70 minutes!
The first half flew by, but there had been little to cheer apart from an early Kevin Holsgrove howitzer that was repelled by Scott Tynan. There were lengthy passages of play where United failed to string more than four passes together. Their willingness to resort to hoof ball was like watching through a time warp - had we lapsed back five years? Even Paul Bastock’s goal kicks were wayward by ten yards. Just as the other night, we were quickly stunned into silence. We were camped inside our own half, playing counter-attacking football at home against a side who had lost their opening two games.
Inevitably, Vauxhall scored. Despite at least four shouts (increasingly urgent) encouraging Liam Parker to step up and join the offside trap, he didn’t and Michael Jackson, played onside, was left totally unmarked to head home. It was a BAD way to concede and there was no more noise for the rest of the half, just rage.
The players probably received another barrage of expletives in their ears at half-time because they had returned to the pitch before I’d purchased my half-time curry and chips. Thankfully it worked and there became a real danger of those around me being sprayed with soggy chips, pineapple and raisins as United started the second half on the front foot.
There were some ridiculous goalline clearances - Ryan Semple, Holsgrove, Kevin Austin, Parker, Lawrie Dudfield and Marc Newsham all had chances. The anger turned quickly back to frustration. Vauxhall were clinging on by their fingertips but, unlike against Histon, the equaliser didn’t materialise.
Even more inevitably, they broke out and scored a decisive second. Craig Mahon pounced on a stray pass and set up Josh Wilson for the easiest of finishes. United had over-committed. The stadium was half-empty by the time Tom Hannigan headed us an own goal consolation in injury time.
Tynan, subjected to abuse about his weight all afternoon, had the ‘audacity’ to celebrate at the final whistle. Some young moron sent him a volley of phlegm as the goalkeeper collected his water bottle. Such a disgusting and unnecessary thing to do.
A rubbish afternoon but before I left York Street, I made sure I secured my place on the supporters’ bus to Nuneaton on Tuesday night. I suppose you don’t fall out of love with something just because it lets you down once.
Next Match: Nuneaton Town away on Tuesday evening. Of course, it’ll be nothing on last season, but hopefully the right result.