Sunday, 3 February 2013

Gainsborough Trinity 2 Boston United 2

‘Swann, Swann, wherever you may be,
You can buy our players but you can’t buy me
With your missus’s money and your plastic fans
Who all live in caravans!’

This was the witty backing track to the latest installment in a local feud that has become tetchy, tempestuous and full of trouble. 

There’s no doubt about it now - Gainsborough are our most hated rivals. We’re not in a position to pretend that we care about Lincoln, Grimsby or anyone else - in the same way that they don’t care about us. 

No, it’s all about “Tinpot” Trinity - a single telescopic lens of rage aimed at a club that, since the reign of Queen Victoria, has scarcely moved from their current league status, won or done anything worthy of note and, yet now, with a sudden injection of money believe that they can rightfully claim to be the pride of the county.

It’s been like a mafia turf war, with Peter Swann’s family riches used solely for the purpose of picking off Boston United players, enticing them with promises of riches to move up county and play for them. The latest “hit” came just this week, as striker Mark Jones, after a matter of months at York Street, went “swanning” (if you’ll excuse the pun) up to Trinity.

Their hierarchy, who had been set to pull the plug in the summer after they failed to reach the Conference Premier, offered Jones double what was on offer at Boston. You might understand this but unfortunately Jones had gone on record as saying he wasn’t the kind of player to be motivated by money. True, until someone came along and offered him a little more. 

Our honour once again insulted by Trinity’s increasing collection of our old boys and their wads of cash, 250 Pilgrims travelled to the Northolme baying for a measure of revenge. Although we rarely lose on Gainsborough’s ground, the midweek hiding we took against Altrincham (7-1) restricted the numbers and left those who did come pretty frightened of a repeat against an in-form Trinity side who are in the play-offs and still in the FA Trophy. 

Great shot of Ben Milnes celebrating the first goal
(Photo: David Shipman)
I walked in to our segregated section (a response to crowd trouble last season) about ten to two and started doling out bills of the Monopoly money I’d bought on eBay earlier in the week. I wasn’t the only one, by the end of the afternoon, the entire terrace seemed to be littered with fake notes and all those at the front were waving wedges in the direction of any Gainsborough player who dared come near us. I’d handed Jamie Yates his Monopoly wages before kick-off - he didn’t find the joke very funny. 

Despite having been allocated about half the stadium, we naturally congregated right up against the fence separating us from the home support - who didn’t seem too pleased that their ear drums would be assaulted by constant singing all afternoon. Whatever happened on the pitch, we’d be vociferous off it. Indeed, many had been on the piss since eight in the morning to make absolutely sure of this...

A pulsating Lincolnshire derby unfolded, one of the best non-league games you’ll see. On 24 minutes, Boston drew first blood. Paul Mayo’s long thrown was nudged on by Marc Newsham, and there was Ben Milnes nipping in to finish past goalkeeper Jan Budtz.

Bostonian bedlam ensued. Everyone jumped and floated about in delirium, mates embraced and a shower of tickertape and Monopoly bills was thrown up like a firework before fluttering down on the whooping crowd. Milnes led the players towards the throng. A number leapt over the hoardings and danced around on the pitch with the players. A can of Stella was launched, depositing warm lager on shoulders, and landed in the penalty box. Budtz handed it to the referee, who gave us a concerned look. The linesman stayed well back. 

Pandemonium as Ben Milnes fires Boston United into a
first-half lead (Photo: David Shipman)
United had been the better team but there were chances at both ends before half-time came with Boston in front. Our volume increased again... “SWANN, SWANN...” we boomed, over and over again in a mocking chorus to suggest that money can’t buy you everything you desire. There was a wonderful air of optimism at the break.

Trinity were invigorated by the rest and started the second-half strongly. They levelled on 63 minutes when Boston’s defence, reliable throughout most of the afternoon, failed to read Budtz’s long goal kick and Danny Hone placed the ball past Dan Haystead. They celebrated right in front of us and all manner of currency was thrown at them.

The Trinity fans edged closer to the divide, goading but the only one making any kind of noise was a loudmouth fat boy with a tatty flag. He was soon shut up. 

Six minutes later, United scythed through thanks to Conor Marshall’s perfect ball and Newsham finished at the second attempt for 2-1. There was absolute pandemonium. More spilled onto the pitch, leading the two stewards on a Keystone Cops chase along the touchline. Tickertape went up with like a fountain again. Fans ran and jumped onto the wire of the segregating fence, the Gainsborough support ran off quicker than the French army. 

A few remained and, at the gate, the stewards were shoved out the way with alarming ease. About five Boston fans broke through and punches were exchanged with some home troublemakers as everyone looked on like in a playground scrap. One Trinity lad ended up crumpled on the floor, holding his head and complaining. The stewards quickly restored everyone to their rightful places. 

Just before that, Jones had been replaced to deafening, mocking jeers. He had been useless.

A glorious victory beckoned but Trinity had enough left to equalise. Inevitably it was Yates who got it with a good finish. He certainly earned his Monopoly money. At this point, United were spent and there was only likely to be one winner. Thankfully, we held on through five minutes of stoppage time. Losing to them has become THAT unbearable now. A point was a fair outcome. 

Money can buy you a lot of things, Mr Swann, but it can’t buy support like ours. And, apparently, nor can it buy you a win against us. 

Full gallery of David's pictures here.

Next Match: Leyton Orient v Southend United in the southern area final of the JPT on Tuesday.