|In 1947 Boston United came up with a new fundraising idea. The Boston United Benevolent Cup or as it soon came to be renamed the Mather Invitation Challenge Cup was presented to the club by Mrs Louise Mather, the landlady of the White Hart Hotel. This impressive silver trophy was to be used as a prize to entice top opposition to Boston for a fund-raising match, with the proceeds going to any worthy cause chosen by the club's Directors.||
The first Mather Cup game was on 30th April 1947 and the challengers were Sheffield United. Boston won the match 3-2 in extra time in front of a crowd of 4890. The proceeds of the game went to the NFU Flood Distress Fund to aid the many farmers in the Fens who had been hit by severe flooding during the winter.
The next challengers were Leeds United a year later who brought their Second Division team over to Boston for the match. Their forward line included two internationals; David Cochrane (Northern Ireland) and Aubrey Powell (Wales). The midfield alone had cost Leeds £29,000 in transfer fees. Goals by Roy Houghton, Phil Bartley and a brace by Jack Stone gave Boston a famous 4-3 victory.
|A week after the match Leeds manager Major Frank Buckley signed up Boston's Spalding born centre half Roly Depear. The terms of the transfer were that Boston would receive £500 in cash immediately followed by a further £300 after Depear had played 10 first team games. Leeds also promised to bring their first team back to Boston the following year for a Mather Cup rematch. Depear's transfer wasn't quite as profitable as hoped as Leeds sold him on to Newport County for £8,000 after playing just five games for them. In the Mather Cup game the following season Leeds lost again, this time 2-5 in front of a crowd of 5749.||
Although Leeds United never played for the Mather Cup in subsequent years, the links formed with Boston United have continued to this day.
|Defender Jack Duthoit joined Boston from Leeds in the 1950s. More recently Howard Wilkinson who had started his managerial career at Boston before he went on to manage Mossley, the England Semi-Professional side, Notts County, Sheffield Wednesday and Leeds United. Whilst with Leeds United he took them from the third bottom of the Second Division in 1988 to a First Division title in 1992 - the last season before it became the Premiership. He also won Leeds the FA Charity Shield in 1992 and got them to the League Cup Final in 1996.||
Mel Sterland joined the Pilgrims in May 1994 as player-manager after leaving Leeds United, where his career was curtailed by an ankle injury. He was then granted a Testimonial Match by his old club with the game taking place on Sunday 3rd September at the Pilgrim's York Street ground. Appearing in his Boston United XI alongside Mel were Des Walker, Mark Bright and Gordon Strachan whilst Leeds United sent an impressive team including John Lukic, Tony Dorigo, David Weatherall, Phil Masinga, John Pemberton, David White and Jamie Forrestor.
|Other former Leeds stars to turn out for the Pilgrims in the next few years were Imre Varadi, David Rennie and Noel Whelan. Varadi's stay was brief - just nine games as was Noel Whelan's seventeen games and four goals. Rennie was a key player in the Boston side that won the Dr Martens Premier League title in 2000. Julian Joachim came back to Boston - where he spent his schooldays - after a successful season with Leeds. He finished his first season with the Pilgrims as top goalscorer with 16 goals. He left to join Darlington for a reported six figure fee.||
Going the other way, locals Anthony Elding and David Norris both made their way to Leeds United during their playing careers after leaving Boston. Elding made 10 appearances scoring 1 goal in 2008 and Norris made 64 appearances scoring 8 goals between July 2012 and February 2015.
|Howard Wilkinson was just the first of a string of Leeds United managers with Boston connections. Kevin Blackwell who played in goal for the Pilgrims at Wembley in their FA Trophy final appearance in 1985 went on to manage Leeds from 2004 to 2006. Neil Redfearn had several spells as caretaker manager at Leeds before getting the job on a slightly more permanent basis in 2014. Neil Thompson who had been Boston's manager in their first season in the football league was later reserve team manager at Leeds. Then Steve Evans had almost a full season with them but was dismissed after failing to meet the expectations of the club's owner.||
The Mather Cup is still with the club although it hasn't been played for since 1998 when Jim Smith's Derby County side came over to York Street and were beaten 3-1. With the move to the new Community Stadium at the Quadrant being imminent, perhaps it is time to bring the cup out again to use it to forge some new connections.
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