Boston's biggest ever win in the FA Cup occurred in 1937 when they entertained a side from Bilsthorpe Colliery. Back in the 1930s Britain had a thriving coal industry and the East Midlands coalfield was one of the most productive in the country. The village of Bilsthorpe, just outside Mansfield, had grown in population from 134 in 1921 to just under two thousand in 1931 following the development of the colliery. Many of the local collieries had their own football team and Bilsthorpe was no exception. They had first entered a team in the FA Cup in 1935 when they defeated Rufford Colliery before exiting to Ransome & Marles after a replay. The next year they had fallen at the first hurdle, being knocked out by Boots Athletic. Now in 1937 they faced a trip to Boston. They had a couple of players in their side with Football League experience. Billy Burton had turned out previously for Nottingham Forest and Brighton & Hove Albion and William Foster had scored two goals in ten appearances for Mansfield Town. Boston also had some experienced players in their line-up. Centre half Ernie Wright had joined Boston from Mansfield, having played previously for Huddersfield Town and Bradford City. Les Redfern had been signed from Folkestone, but he had started his footballing career with Wolverhampton Wanderers before moving on to play for Southend United and Crewe Alexandra. Boston's centre forward was Wilf Notley, who had scored nine goals in twenty appearances for Notts County before coming to Boston. Notley's strike partner was Bill Harvey, who had turned out for Eden Colliery between spells at Barnsley and Chesterfield. The star of the Boston side was their manager and former Sheffield United and England winger Fred Tunstall.
|Right at the start Bilsthorpe almost scored when the Boston defence was caught in two minds giving Kelk a clear shot at goal with only Taylor to beat, but his low drive went right across the face of the Boston goal. Boston were soon attacking and Redfern headed just over the bar from a Clarkson corner. Play switched to the other end and Taylor has to get behind a ground hugging shot from Flewitt. On twenty minutes Boston took the lead when NOTLEY latched on to a ball down the middle from Clapham and fired home. Three minutes later Boston increased their lead when REDFERN scored from close range after accepting a pass from Sid Ellis. Tideswell in the Bilsthorpe goal then made a superb save to turn a powerful drive from Tunstall onto the bar and then cleared the rebound. NOTLEY added a third goal following a cross from Tunstall. Before the half was over NOTLEY notched his hat-trick with a hooked goal after Harvey had finished a clever move on the left with a great centre. Soon into the second half NOTLEY scored again. This time a neat header from Wright's well placed free kick. REDFERN got Boston's sixth goal from Tunstall's centre. Then Tunstall struck the foot of the upright with a low shot. REDFERN completed his hat-trick after pouncing on a loose ball after the keeper could only parry a smashing drive from Notley. NOTLEY scored goal number eight with a header, HARVEY got a ninth and TUNSTALL finished off the scoring and brought the score up to double figures with a penalty awarded in the last minute after Redfern was tripped.||
In the next round Boston played another colliery side when they travelled to Ollerton - just three miles from Bilsthorpe. This time they only won 2-0. They were eventually knocked out in the third qualifying round when Grantham came out on top by the odd goal in five following a replay.
United team: 1. George Taylor, 2. G.W. Surgey, 3. Sid Ellis, 4. G. Wilson, 5. Ernie Wright, 6. Roly Clapham, 7. A. Clarkson, 8. Les Redfern, 9. Wilf Notley, 10. Bill Harvey, 11. Fred Tunstall.
Bilsthorpe team: 1. H. Tideswell, 2. R. Read, 3. M. Alsopp, 4. T. Peatfield, 5. J. W. Burton, 6. E. Butler, 7. H. Kelk, 8. J. Gregory, 9. W. H. Foster, 10. S. Flewitt, 11. S. Warner.
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