When I woke up just after eight on this Saturday morning, my immediate thought was the joyous realisation that Boston United were playing at York Street today, for the first time in some five weeks.
This was then quickly tempered by the realisation I was in Glasgow - which was 305 miles away. Drat, I never do things the easy way.
I was coming back to Boston that day - there was no issue there, I had done everything possible for the moment to kit out my new flat and could do no more - but getting back for the game was out of my hands. My Dad was driving and my football fate for the day rested with him. He was oblivious to the game and cared even less. He was also visibly knackered from staying in a hotel and would most likely want to have at least two stops to break up the journey.
There was a delicate balance - the slightest delay or stoppage, an accident or general congestion, and the whole scheme bubbling away in my mind would be blown to pieces. I could only bury my head in the newspaper in the back seat and hope for the best. It was made worse by the certainty that this Boston game would probably be my last of the season.
The estimated time of arrival clock on the sat nav was devious, mocking me by jumping backwards and forwards every time we braked or stopped at traffic lights. Everything was going swimmingly when it read 2.20pm, but suddenly that would leap forward to 3.15 and I’d gasp, only for it to revert to a pre kick-off ETA once the speedo topped 70mph again.
In the end, there was no need to worry. My Dad, bless him, wasn’t hanging around and kept the accelerator anchored to the floor. At 1pm, after the last of our comfort stops, we were just 78 miles away from Boston and soon, in one smooth movement, I strolled into the Sports Bar, saluted my mates and ordered a cool, refreshing pint of lager to celebrate victory over the miles. It was twenty past two. Boom.
My working week in my new placement - which is with the Scottish Mail on Sunday - will be Tuesday to Saturday, meaning that the weekly tradition of getting up on a Saturday morning - most likely still pissed from the night before - and swanning off to watch United will be consigned to the past. I’m going to visit as many Scottish grounds as possible - and you’ll hear about it here first, rest assured - but the Boston aways will have to wait until next season now.
So it was great to see a commanding performance on my final visit to York Street. I’d been travelling back from London on Tuesday night, and so missed out on our majestic 4-0 win at Vauxhall Motors, but the recent reasons to be cheerful continued here. Unsurprisingly, Gaffers Lee and Lee stuck with the same XI that dicked on the Merseyside mechanics and they were again handsomely rewarded.
Gloucester, who are still inexplicably in this northern division, started with intent and must have forced eight corners in the opening 20 minutes. But United’s rearguard, particularly the centre-half pairing of Tom Ward and programme cover star Nathan Stainsfield, were rock solid. Kev ‘Keith‘ Austin is now available after injury, but he might be looking at a lengthy wait on the bench if the young pair maintain this form.
United created the first chance - Danny Sleath, who once again was quietly brilliant in the centre of the park, rattled the post, the ball flying out to Marc Newsham, whose rebound smacked the crossbar. A goal was coming and when Ward met Ian Ross’s corner and saw his header blocked, the ball fell kindly for Ben ‘Whippet‘ Fairclough to slam the ball home via a couple of small deflections.
I’d barely swallowed my half-time curry and chips when the second period sparked into life. First, the referee, who didn’t help himself by being fat and ginger, lost control of things and started flashing yellow cards around for anything resembling a meaty challenge. Having set a precedent, he had little option but to caution everyone who slid in as temperatures started to rise.
Then, Spencer Weir-Daley forced a good save from Tigers keeper Lewis Carey, before Sleath’s follow-up was hacked off the line. But it wasn’t long before the points - and a positive goal difference for the first time in bloody ages - were secured. Ross and Ward combined from a corner and the ball, as it is wont to do from such situations, ended up in the top corner. Game over.
Gloucester, who felt aggrieved in last season’s FA Trophy tie here when Rory Coleman’s hilariously obvious handball on the line wasn’t spotted, were denied a clear penalty when Ward clipped Darren Edwards.
The ref then dismissed forward Scott Wilson for stamping on Stainsfield as the ball dribbled tamelessly through to Paul Bastock. I haven’t seen Bazza so irate for many years - he turned beetroot and then shoved Wilson as Stainsfield lay stricken on the floor. It looked for all the world as though he would throttle him! Sadly he didn't.
Hopefully we’ll keep up the excellent results of late - whisper it, but it’s play-off form!
Next Match: ...will be in Scotland