The Adventures in the Lincolnshire Tinpot Shield series, aired every summer in two feature-length episodes with a special in March or April, continued on Tuesday evening with a visit to Gainsborough. This was my third visit to the Northolme inside 12 months and the place doesn’t get any prettier, despite the club becoming the nouveau riche of the Blue Square Bet Conference North (never thought I’d write that sentence).
Trinity’s thousands, combined with the irresistible appeal of working under a football genius of the calibre of Brian Little, had already enticed Jamie Yates to swap York Street for the lawless Lincolnshire frontierlands, joining a cache of former Pilgrims, including the exotic Dominic Roma, Major League Soccerball try-out Shane Clarke and handball enthusiast Rory Coleman. Rumour has it that Yates is now on £500 a week, which beats change for his bus fare, a ham cob from Tiffin’s and a sack of spuds each Friday.
Unfortunately, this new injection of cash - which is believed to either come from Hong Kong, Aruba or the Worksop area - has rather gone to Trinity heads. One fan - I was unable to ascertain if he was a member of those 26 (that’s twenty-six) hardy and courageous individuals (sarcasm) who braved the fifty mile journey cross-county to York Street on Boxing Day 2007 for the biggest match of their season - paraded a replica shirt with ‘I 8 Boston‘ emblazoned across the back as though genuinely believing his club had achieved the big time.
The ‘noisy neighbour‘ impression was confirmed when the sides walked out to a limp version of Blue Moon, to howls of derisive laughter from the travelling support. I understand plans are afoot to rename the Northolme after a Middle Eastern airline, the strip will be toned down to a lighter blue and a pre-season tour is being planned for this time next year to crack the American market.
Only time will tell if forward Darryn Stamp, an acquisition from Guiseley, throws his toys out the pram and does a Balotelli by slagging off Gainsborough’s restaurants, climate and nightlife before demanding a return to Leeds.
As forecast in the previous blog, I was staying with Mr Broughton in Lincoln again (degree result still pending, library fine still gaining interest, previous purchase of lager left accidentally in freezer with inevitable, explosive consequences - beer-battered chips, anyone?) On one of those sultry evenings where shirt clings sweatily to skin, we set off to Gainsborough in the blue Corsa, which continues its remarkable metamorphosis from car to all-purpose skip. I’m told that at one point, floor mats were visible. Even the back seats had been removed, replaced by an anonymous mass of furniture, clothing and crisp packets. If you’re a hitchhiker and see us approaching, don’t even bother.
It was United who were sweating early on as Trinity piled on the pressure. Ryan Kendall tested Paul Bastock’s cat-like reflexes, and Yates struck the post with a long-range dipper. One of the home supporters turned and asked us how long Bazza, 41, had been playing for Boston, as though time, in fact, had not advanced since he last appeared at the Northolme in the 1997-1998 season. We replied that for all his feline abilities, he was most certainly on his ninth life.
Coincidentally, that season was the last time United lost on this ground, but their performance early on suggested tonight could be Gainsborough’s night at long last. It was no surprise when Stamp headed a corner from Yates past Bazza for the opening goal. The home fans grew dangerously excitable, as though the great drought could be ended, and one chose to assault everyone’s senses with an air raid siren. Maybe it was an ironic comment on Boston’s aerial bombardment style, which looked so primitive against the tica-taca revolution of finesse football orchestrated by emeritus professor of the game Brian Little and his lavishly salaried players. Maybe the Luftwaffe were having a reunion. Or perhaps he was just a twat.
Anyway, the celebrations didn’t last long as Kevin Holsgrove, signed to replace Yates, equalised with a crisp low drive just inside the post ten minutes later. After that, United were more in control and, with just under 20 minutes remaining, Mikel Suarez, winning literally his only header of the evening, scored the winner from a peachy Ryan Semple cross. The Transit Van song was given its first of hopefully many airing this season, to the usual bemusement. I was happy to see Mikel compensate me for knocking my phone on the floor and creasing my teamsheet with an errant shot during the warm-up.
Another good evening watching Lincolnshire’s second cup competition. Stamford or Grantham Town await us in the final, which will be played on some inconvenient date later in the season. We even had the fortune of passing ‘I 8 Boston’ in the car on the way out. A salute was raised. And it wasn’t the one used by the Air Force. Noisy Neighbours indeed.
Next Match: Lincoln City are welcomed to York Street with the customary grace and courtesy in our final pre-season fixture on Saturday, with absolutely no mention that they are now non-league...