We’re not even into the Advent countdown but this is a surefire candidate to be best awayday of the season. I’d been hardwired for this Lincolnshire Derby all week, eagerly counting down the minutes and hours, but waking up on Saturday morning my cider-cloud hangover predicted only pessimism.
Money-rich Gainsborough had scorched up the table in the early throes of the season, having played some attractive football and, for the first time in many, many years, had a more positive outlook than we did. We were bunkered down in mid-table, gazing upwards with just a little bit of envy at our noisy neighbours. Trinity unveiling plans for a shiny new stadium only confirmed the impression that the gap between the respective clubs‘ stature was narrowing.
So we did what we do best. We travelled up county, took the piss both on and off the field and firmly stuffed a sock in the mouth of the noisy neighbours.
The Trinity bar was brimming with optimism - the locals firmly believed that a resounding win over the Pilgrims, their first on home territory for 15 years, would be a loud statement of intent and the springboard to a promotion push. A couple even broke into song - this was unprecedented, for I have never heard a Gainsborough fan attempt any kind of atmosphere - but were immediately shouted down by the Boston hordes.
“Our youth team got more, our youth team got moooorrrreeee, we’re Boston United, our youth team got more...”
A reference to midweek, where United’s Youth Cup tie against Bradford City was watched by more people than Trinity’s home league match with Gloucester, an embarrassing indictment on just how Tinpot they truly are.
We travelled in good numbers (probably about 300 or more), good voice and with tongues firmly-in-cheek. I’d raided eBay and snapped up four bags of Monopoly money (used, all denominations) to mock their new-found sugar daddy. The coloured notes were sprayed about as the teams emerged and the chant I’d posted on Facebook the other night had the first of many, many airing across the afternoon. To the famous ABBA song:
“Money, money, money, not so funny, when you’ve won f**k all...”
Despite entering the game off the back of two defeats, Boston started with great purpose, snapping at the heels of Gainsborough’s midfield and indicating that hoofball wasn’t going to be the order of the day. Jamie Yates, one of many old faces in the Trinity side, was hounded by our defenders in packs every time he got near the ball. Remarkably, Yates took the sponsors’ man of the match award, a sympathy vote no doubt because he did absolutely nothing.
A kamikaze 60 seconds defined the game. Paul Bastock, who’s probably played on the Northolme on more occasions than half the Gainsborough squad, reacted superbly to deny Leon Mettam’s unmarked header. United instantly countered and when Gaffer Lee found half a yard on the edge of the box, he drilled the ball unerringly into the bottom corner.
All hell broke loose in the stands as we surged forward against the barrier to goad the lippy home fans in front of us. In honour of the scorer, elbows flew wildly in the mêlée and Mr Young was on the receiving end of a sharp blow to the temple. We certainly know how to celebrate! With the chant-e-oke in full flow, Jambo unleashed his latest creation, to the tune of City’s Balotelli song:
“Ooooohhh Jason Lee, he’s our gaffer, he’s f**king class
He used to have a pineapple but now he‘s got no hair
He elbows people all day long but we don’t f**king care... [repeat]”
I like this song a lot and so did the Gaffer, who smirked to himself. Thankfully for Youngie’s headache, the celebrations didn’t last too long. Five minutes later, Jordan Fairclough slipped on the slick surface and ex-Pilgrim Shane Clarke raced through on goal to beat Bastock and equalise. We craned our ears to see if the home crowd would respond to the moment but they continued their passable impression of a sanitorium for the deaf. How they can entertain the possibility of a new ground with such pitiful crowds I don’t know.
United didn’t buckle and restored their lead pretty much straight away. Ryan Semple and Danny Sleath combined to tee up Ben Milnes and, with the aid of a deflection, he found the same corner as Lee from about the same range. Cue more bezerk celebrations behind the goal.
From this point on, United were in command. There was none of the fragility of some performances this season. They put bodies on the line and guarded the advantage, while also playing some pleasing-on-the-eye football. But a single-goal lead is always a nervy one and it took a third to secure the points 15 minutes from time.
Gaffer Lee was hauled down by Bulgarian keeper Dimitar Evtimov, who, for the sake of clarity, completely bricked it when Lee challenged him to reach a cross. He was dismissed and defender Gavin Cowan pulled on the gloves. Marc Newsham fired home to ensure his first act was to retrieve the ball from the net.
And so, for all the hype about Trinity’s millions and grand ambitions, nothing has really changed. This county remains ours.
Next Match: Chesterfield vs Sheffield United at the B2Net next Saturday, then Boston’s tricky-looking visit to Stalybridge on December 3rd.