York at York Street

York City have been visiting Boston for longer than many people realise. Older Boston fans will remember Fourth Division York City coming to York Street for a second round proper FA Cup tie against United in December 1970. Some may remember regular visits by York City Reserves sides in the Midland League in the forties and fifties and even one in 1933 the year Boston United were formed. But the connection goes back even further. Boston United were formed after the previous senior club in Boston - Boston FC - folded. Boston FC had been playing in the Midland League since 1921 - having joined when some team called Leeds United resigned from that league to join the Football League. I wonder what happened to them! Amongst the other teams in the Midland League then were some other clubs that would later join the Football League such as Scunthorpe United, Mansfield Town and Doncaster Rovers. In 1922 York City also joined the Midland League so almost 100 years ago Boston and York City were equals playing in the same league and York were regular visitors to Shodfriars Lane. Whereas Boston FC and later Boston United would stay in the Midland League until 1958, York's stay was relatively short. Despite regularly finishing near the bottom of the table - and well below Boston for all but one season, York left to join the Football League in 1929.

Boston United's home record against York City sides is exceptional. Against York City Reserves, United have played 12, won 10, drawn 2 and lost none, scoring 51 goals and conceding 17. Against York City first team Boston United have won every single game apart from that FA Cup match in 1970.

United's FA Cup run in 1970/71 began in September with a 4-0 victory over Holbeach United in the First Qualifying Round. Victories over Lincoln United, Boston FC and Frickley Colliery brought the Pilgrims through to the First Round Proper where they were drawn away against Southport, who were then a Football League side challenging for Fourth Division honours. Boston's player-manager Jim Smith relished the prospect of playing against three of his former teammates from his time at Halifax Town who were now plying their trade with Southport. A convincing 2-0 win resulted, and the second-round draw paired the Pilgrims with another Fourth Division opponent; York City, this time at home.

Early indications were that York's speed might trouble the home defence. Henderson mishit an early chance when the home defence were spread-eagled. But as time went on Keith Jobling snuffed out the threat of £20,000 rated Phil Boyer and Alex Gibson became the master of 100 goal ace Paul Aimson. Boston took the lead on 16 minutes. John Froggatt was put clear by a pinpoint pass from Eric Weaver and he sent in a cross which Brian Bates headed past Ron Hillyard in the York goal. Hillyard had to make a good save to stop Bates increasing the Boston lead just before half time. In the second half John Flannagan began to get past John Mackin and Bob MacKay was having a running feud with Ian Davidson. It wasn't long before Hillyard had to make another good save from a Bates header. At the other end, Phil Burrows saw a header bounce off the post. In the 80th minute York City equalised. A centre came in and was cleared off the line by John Lakin, but Davidson followed up to score from close range. Then with five minutes left Malcolm White in the Boston goal cleared a corner but was challenged by Brian Swallow. Boston defender Billy Howells, playing his 297th game for Boston, objected to the challenge and kicked Swallow. Howells was then sent off and York awarded a penalty. John Mackin had no trouble scoring from the spot. Keith Jobling just missed with a header right at the end.

After the game Billy Howells commented "It was the most stupid thing I have done in my life. I can't explain why I did it, but the referee was right. He had no option but to give the penalty. But their player had gone straight into Malcolm White and fouled him several times. I feel sick. It looked worse than it really was." After being banned for a number of games, Howells came back into the Boston side as an emergency striker. After scoring in his first game back he soon resumed his normal role in defence. He went on to break Boston's appearances record with over 500 games to his credit.

Billy Howells

Billy Howells

Since that FA Cup defeat York have come to Boston four times. Twice in the Football League and twice in the National League North. Boston have won all those four games at Boston, scoring nine goals and conceding just one.

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