Sunday, 27 February 2011

Walsall 0 Rochdale 0

The above title could literally have been any one of about eight matches on this extraordinary day of Black Country football-watching. I’ve never known anything quite like it. What started out as an already more complicated-than-usual trip to Stafford to watch Boston United turned into crushing disappointment and a desperate dash around the West Midlands looking for some action. And even after all that, we didn’t get to see a goal!

I awoke to find two text messages – one from Andy A saying the Pilgrims’ visit to the Marston’s Stadium was in ‘serious doubt’ because of a waterlogged pitch and the other from Andy P asking if I had a Plan B (he went to Villa, like we should have done). In hindsight, the sane man would have rolled over and gone back to sleep. But no, it was straight to the official website, where the dreaded words ‘Match OFF’ screamed back at me. Lousy tinpot league.

Not for the first time this season, the heart dived. This was *crushing disappointment number one.*

Frantic Googling offered a contingency – there was Wolves vs. Blackpool, Villa vs. Blackburn, Shrewsbury vs. Gillingham, Walsall vs. Rochdale, Telford vs. Corby and Chasetown vs. Mansfield. But circumstance limited us. It so happens that Andy’s prospective fiancĂ©e (he’s saving frantically) is from Stafford and he needed to call in on the in-laws before driving back. I thought this might be a bit awkward so had booked on the 5.30 train out of Stafford to get back to Sheffield at a reasonable hour. Determined not to waste money, we were limited to Wolves and Walsall, as a steady 80 back up the M6 would beat the express to Stafford. Still with me? Good.

It didn’t take much mental arithmetic to opt for Wolves, the appeal of Premier League football proving stronger than a run-of-the-mill League One affair. Remarkably, it was also cheaper to go to Molineux! NUS affiliation has its benefits.

We reached Wolverhampton in plenty of time. The handsome cantilever stands shone gold in the shafts of sunshine, the statue of Billy Wright glistened and we found parking directly opposite the entrance. Strolling round the ground, waiting for the players to arrive, we were pleased with our selection, with an exciting game in prospect. Wolves really had to win and Holloway’s Blackpool know no other way but to attack. It screamed entertainment. Better sort out a seat.

I had to double-take the crude A4 paper notice on the ticket office window. It had two more dreaded words printed on it - ‘Sold Out.’ How? Surely this wasn’t the most attractive Premier League fixture? Apparently it was. This was certainly *crushing disappointment number two.*

Not today, thank you
I bought a programme and slumped back into the car. At this point, at 2pm, we decided the only alternative was to head 10 miles east and go to Walsall. At this point, I was grateful for three things: Andy, for putting up with all this pursuit of random football, Google Maps on my phone and that we live in a country where, on any given Saturday afternoon nine months of the year, there is football to be found in just about every other town in the country. God bless England and its national game.

The strategic parking outside the Bescot Stadium was something to behold and the M6 was literally in sight for the quick getaway at full-time. Joining the ticket office queue we clocked the prices. I thought student discount was pretty standard regardless of the division, but there wasn’t any here. Probably because there’s no University of Walsall. I hadn’t paid an adult price since Corby in September. *Crushing disappointment number three.*

As I sheepishly pulled £20 out of my wallet, the mind drifted back to Bolton-Wigan last month. I could hear the bloke who reads the classifieds silky voice - “Walsall nil Rochdale nil.” But hark, a group of angels were approaching from the car park – angels dressed in checked shirts, with Brummie accents and, erm, male. “Excuse me lads, we’ve got a couple of complimentary tickets here if you want them.” Neither of us could quite get the words of gratitude out. The £20 returned to the wallet. We practically skipped to the turnstile. We don’t know your names, you probably won’t ever read this blog and it’s unlikely we’ll ever come back to Walsall, but thank you. *Uplifting moment number one.*

Astonished, we considered the chances of being in the right place at the right time like that. We had been through hundreds of traffic lights on the drive, if just one had been red. If I’d looked for a tout at Wolves. If I’d deliberated for a second longer on my choice of chicken wrap in Tescos.

Thus unfolded possibly the worst game of football I have ever seen. It’s no lie that if I’d paid £20 for this crap I would have been fuming. There were two decent chances in the entire game, both for Rochdale, and neither side looked interested in winning. My attention quickly drifted to Europe’s largest billboard, standing behind the away end, and how many thousands of pounds the club must earn off it, and the constant stream of traffic on the M6 behind it. I swear I saw that Spar lorry which cut us up just outside Lichfield. Wanker.

I’ve only ever left one game early in my life – that fateful night at Wembley in 2007 – England 2 Croatia 3 – but couldn’t wait to get out of this one. No wonder they were giving the tickets away....

Next Match: No idea.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Boston United 1 Solihull Moors 1

Very seldom do I feel a little cheeky in attending a football match, but this was one of those occasions. As regular readers might have noticed, I don’t bother heading back for home matches during term time, mainly for financial reasons, but when Andy A said the Rover sauna was sitting idle on Tuesday evening, he didn’t need much persuading in making an under-the-radar trip home.

Buoyed by the terrific comeback at Workington at the weekend, we rattled along the roads of Lincolnshire feeling confident the momentum could be maintained and another win earned to cement our play-off place. In recent months, we’ve sat in every position from first to fifth, only to be quickly moved elsewhere (like an inhabitant of Gainsborough) whenever results have gone against us.

Solihull, meanwhile, despite being relative plankton in this division and despite the tragic loss of their manager Bob Faulkner earlier in the month, have been upwardly mobile for some time and entered the game close enough to the play-off positions to ensure it would be an uncomfortable evening.

We surprised a few regulars walking in to the Town End. They have become accustomed to going months without seeing us, our attendance seemingly in fits and starts. I liked the new ‘This is Boston’ banner draped over the barrier near the front, though I doubt the small party from the West Midlands would have felt too intimidated, although at least they knew they were in the right place.

It quickly became apparent that the miracle of Saturday wasn’t going to translate into a decisive victory here. The managers fielded five players who were either making their full or home debuts and this resulted in a noticeable lack of cohesion, a baffling phobia to deliver the ball from wide areas and a whole lot of uncertainty. Kevin Austin, who has been re-christened Keith thanks to a clumsy Workington teamsheet writer, looked solid, but the two recent acquisitions from Gainsborough, Mark Robinson and Darren Williams, I’m afraid to say, look out of their depth.

Individually, the new wingers from Rotherham United, Grant Darley and Jamie Green (when we had figured out who the hell they were...) looked decent but unfailingly they would bomb forward and then stop, creakingly turn round and seek an option behind them. Ever by the third minute of stoppage time, when we really, really needed them to, the-one-on-the-left refused to cross without first checking for a backwards pass. It was infuriating, and many in our section were in favour of me and Andy dropping them off in Rotherham on our way back.

The Brummies sensed their opportunity and duly scored on the hour mark. Dan Haystead, who was excellent throughout, did well to thwart Matt Smith, only to see the ball return to the striker, who converted the rebound. Haystead was distraught at conceding, but it was actually the defence’s fault.

A demoralising defeat loomed, but Danny Davidson, who probably should have been suspended following his elbow at Stalybridge, saved the day from close range after Green finally decided to put a cross in. The atmosphere suddenly came alive in the Town End and I even spied a few in the Spayne Road terrace singing and clapping. Noise from two sides of the ground – amazing!

The journey home was completed in record time, Andy shaving a good 20 minutes off his personal best. We were just congratulating ourselves on guaranteeing an extra half-an-hour’s sleep when the speed camera flashed. Bugger.

Next Match: Stafford Rangers vs. Boston United on Saturday


Sunday, 20 February 2011

Workington AFC 3 Boston United 5

When even the preview on the official website calls it a ‘mammoth journey’ you really know you’re setting yourself up for a fall. Nine hours of train travel awaited me on Saturday morning, the destination the Cumbrian town of Workington for the longest away trip of the season. It was either going to be the best day of the season or the most miserable train ride of my life.

I think should carry two things. The first a massive disclaimer saying the club will not be responsible for any loss of earnings resulting from an inexplicable addiction to following the side to far-flung destinations such as this. And also that the club shall not be responsible for any raised blood pressure, stress, bruised limbs or gashed hands incurred during the process of celebrating, or general shortening of life expectancy from watching your team toss away a two-goal lead, only to claw it back and then win the bloody thing in the final ten minutes.

Secondly, I’d like to see a Foreign Office-style Travellers Advice page. The Workington entry would probably read something like:

“Fans should be aware that Workington is located quite some way from Boston and only the most mentally incapacitated (sorry, loyal) should bother to board the coach. If you are of a nervous disposition in treacherous snowy conditions, are susceptible to DVT or quickly grow bored of the company of fellow passengers, do not board the coach. If you insist on travelling, please equip yourself with adequate entertainment for the journey and a shovel and warm blanket or hot water bottle in case we get stuck or break down.

“If travelling independently, ensure you make your train for the return or risk going through Barrow. Also, it is advised to make some sandwiches and to buy a newspaper with many supplements. Exercise caution when touching parts of Borough Park because the stands are largely rusted through and could come tumbling down at any moment. Do not swing from the rafters on pain of death.

“It is inadvisable to mention the 2009 floods not to include mentions in chants or songs. Failure to comply may result in verbal admonishment by stewards. If you must remove your shirt and swirl around your head like a lunatic when Marc Newsham scores please be aware that Workington lies on the Irish Sea coast and your nipples will harden.

“No immunisations or Visas necessary.”

A game rich in entertainment unfolded thus:

0-1: James Cullingworth bombs down the right and whips in a beautiful cross which finds Adam Boyes. He prods the ball towards goal but fails to find a clean connection in the quagmire of a penalty area. Fortunately, the defenders are feeling charitable and present the ball back to him. Boyes prods it again but this time it squirms underneath the goalkeeper’s body into the corner of the net. 50-odd Boston fans bounce about behind the goal.

0-2: A cracker, again from Boyes. Receiving the ball some 30 yards from goal, but with the angle against him, he unleashes. The ball sails just inside the upright. His career tally is again doubled. Some of us think about swinging from the rafters – get a handful of rusty metal.

1-2: Immediately from the kick-off, Danny Sleath falls flat on his arse and Nick Rogan is set free on goal. The striker deceives Haystead and slots the ball home into an empty net. Our enthusiasm is curbed. Twirling scarves are lowered.

2-2: Another stunner. Cullingworth has probably handled, but the ball squeezes through to Anthony Wright who smashes the ball into the top corner, leaving Haystead no chance. A Coke can suffers our wrath. General sense of annoyance.

3-2: Five minutes after the break, Workington’s comeback is complete. Lee Canoville is stuck in the mud and Gareth Arnison glides past to shoot. Haystead parries but Phil McLuckie reloads and David Hewson heads home. Anger and disbelief.

3-3: Time ebbing away. Shaun Pearson strides over the ploughed furrow and is upended by Tom Smyth. Penalty. We bounce down the terrace in expectation and Marc Newsham makes no mistake. Relief.

3-4: Miles Hunter, a substitute, makes his impact, sliding in Newsham. He showed brilliant composure to bring the ball under his spell and finish. State of wonderment. Inevitably, overgarments are removed.

3-5: Hunter splits the home defence asunder again. He could finish himself but unselfishly tees up Ryan Semple, who smashes hope. Broad smiles all round. That five hour trip home not looking all that bad....

Next Match: Another away trip on Saturday, this time to Stafford Rangers

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Stalybridge Celtic 3 Boston United 1

I’m going to write this post in a diary format to report this evening in Tameside.

9.08am – What a fine morning. I don’t even notice the drizzle outside, it’s matchday. Stalybridge Celtic away – rearranged from the end of last month. And even more superbly, I’ve got a day off. An actual day off, what the hell am I meant to do with myself?

3.40pm – Phone call from Mr. Broughton. This can only be good news. He must be making the effort and driving up for the game. “Basically, here’s what happened,” he begins....

3.51pm – Ten minutes of sordid tale later, I establish through drunken recollection that he took out his frustrations on a Henry Hoover last night which now lies pretty useless on the dining room floor. “I always thought that Henry was a smug cunt anyway. Deserved everything he got,” I sympathise. His house had also been decorated with kebab meat and the least said about the old ladies’ trolley the better. But on the plus side, he’s driving up to Sheffield where we will meet Andy and drive to Stalybridge – not a long trip, just 50 minutes over the Snake Pass.

4.37pm – Mr. Broughton on the phone again. He’s on the move – barely – but has misplaced his debit card so requires funding. Suddenly the conversation turns blue – “Fuck, fuck, fuck, FUCK, FUCKING DUNHAM BRIDGE!!” He’s gone insane, I assumed. Maybe if I get him sectioned, he could vent his frustrations at bridges and other engineering projects in a controlled environment. Maybe he’ll be cured and return into society. “It’s a BLOODY toll isn’t it?! I don’t have any change!” Nonsense, there’s enough change amongst the detritus in his car to extend a loan to a third world country.

5.15pm – Run out in the teeming Steel City rain to get some cash. I’ll be the one needing the loan if these away days keep coming. Flatmates are off en masse to Doncaster Rovers against Ipswich Town. I was going with them until this fixture got rearranged. Ipswich won 6-0. Can’t decide whether it would have been better to go with them or not.

6.05pm – Standing outside Firth Court in Sheffield waiting for Andy to pick me up in the Rover Sauna. Rain is lashing down and I’m getting sprayed by the annoying frequent buses. No report from JB for a while. Not unusual, but pretty disconcerting with 1 hour 40 minutes until kick-off. He could be just down the road. Alternatively, he could be rummaging round the glove compartment at Dunham Bridge.

6.58pm – Really should have set off by now. Yep, definitely should have departed Sheffield by now. Instead, me and Andy are casting anxious glances at one another while playing FIFA. We play AC Milan-Tottenham, which was another of the football fixtures available on this particular night if you so desired. Milan win. Turns out FIFA is not an accurate forecaster of real life.

7.01pm – I face down the hill, Andy faces up the hill. Every ten seconds we tut and swap positions. Where the fuck is he? Last report was he was within a mile but stuck in traffic soup. Had moved 500 inches in half an hour or something.

7.05pm – Still waiting. Sat in the car. Five Live are already building up to the Champions League game. Not a promising sign.

7.11pm – GO GO GO! The blue Corsa swings in behind us and we’re away at last. 44 minutes until kick-off. It’s foggy, rainy and we’ve got an hour’s journey on Britain’s most dangerous road to negotiate. Gonna be a doddle.

7.35pm – Up on the Pass. Visibility about five metres in this nightmarish Dickensian pea souper, the rain arrowing down onto the windscreen. Aggressive white van driver behind making the nerves jangle. If we brake too hard, he’ll push us through the barriers down a ravine and we’ll all die. If we speed up, we’ll misjudge the next corner, go through the barriers down a ravine and we’ll all die. Good choice.

7.59pm – Approaching the turnstiles. We made it. I don’t think any human soul has been so grateful to see the twinkling lights of Glossop as Andy was. The steward takes our money and we click through. A roar goes up. They’ve opened the scoring. What perfect timing. Phil Marsh was the scorer for those sad enough to care.

8.07pm – GOAL GOAL GOAL!!! The equaliser and it’s Anthony Church with the aid of several massive deflections! Still, who gives a flying fuck? This night might not be so bad after all. The 40 or so Pilgrims might be rewarded for their sterling after-work efforts.

8.14pm – I’ve spoken too soon. Put my foot right in my mouth. Shaun Pearson has done it. A magnificent header which actually curled past the goalkeeper, leaving him no chance. Beauty. Unfortunately the goalkeeper is Dan Haystead and Stalybridge are back in front. Still, if you’re going to score an own goal, might as well do it in style, eh?

8.23pm – 3-1. I don’t like this. I want to go home because it transpires that Stalybridge is also a shithole. Not as much of one as Gainsborough and it doesn’t quite fit in the song so well but I’d still like to go home. Conner Jennings has scored, United’s defence split asunder like a fleshy grapefruit under a cleaver.


9.02pm – United playing well in the second-half. The silky passing game is back, the one from last season that delivered the silverware to make the trophy cabinet break. Heavens have opened. I manage to stand under the one square inch of roof that drips.

9.10pm – Danny Davidson has been sent off. Raised his elbow in a challenge. Had only been on the field five minutes. Amazing comeback not looking likely now.

9.25pm – United still coming forward. We’re having another one of those fuck-it sing songs, like the time we were 5-0 down at Nantwich or 4-0 behind at Droylsden. Several shirts have been removed. Nipples are erect. Drum is booming out. Scarves are twirling above heads. D-I-S-C-O.

9.33pm – Full-time. Stand in the rain and applaud the players. Chins up. I can’t feel too disheartened to be honest; we played some good football and generated a good atmosphere.

10.14pm – It occurs to my mind not to bother going to Workington on Saturday. It is over four hours on the train, and that’s from Sheffield. It could be six hours back if I twattishly miss the train I need to get. I purge such unthinkable thoughts. We may lose, yes, but not go to the next one. Never. JB snoozes on the back sleep. Henry the Hoover can sleep in peace tonight.

Next Match: BUFC @ Workington on Saturday. Will be epic.      

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Gainsborough Trinity 0 Boston United 3

Only football can deliver you from the depths of despair to heaven in the space of three days. Entering this Lincolnshire derby off the back of Saturday’s debacle, I was apprehensive. I would have taken a point at the Northolme, trundled back to Sheffield with Andy and never spoken of it again.

But you should never underestimate a management and team scorned. This was a superb performance, earning the perfect riposte from Saturday and sweet revenge for their 3-1 win at York Street on New Year’s Day (or ‘whatever day it was’ when Robbo couldn’t remember the lyrics...)

The author of Ravings of a Boston Boy doesn’t skimp in branding everything about Gainsborough ‘tinpot’ and it’s very hard to disagree. The ground is icky, the town miserable, the programme amateurish, the football staid and the manager, Brian Little Football Genius, clinging on to his position as his team cling on to Conference North safety. They had good chips, however, which was about the only redeeming feature I could think of. Little wonder we sang ‘Gainsborough’s a shithole, I wanna go home’ with more venom than we would typically reserve for somewhere like Guiseley or Hyde.

Boston took the piss both on and off the pitch. 400 fans packed the terrace behind the goal, many with happy memories of Tony Crane’s goalscoring heroics in a 3-1 win on New Year’s Day 2008, our last league visit. The atmosphere was boisterous with the welcome return of many long-forgotten favourites in the chant-e-oke. The general gist was that the locals were of Romany descent, phobic of baths, moved on by the police all day long, were conceived on the carousel and feared Tony Martin’s gun. The hate-o-meter was turned up all the way for this one.

Lincoln weren’t spared either. As they slumped to a 5-1 defeat against Shrewsbury Town 20 miles down the road, Jambo gave a debut to his ‘One man went to laugh, went to laugh at Lincoln’ chant. It went on to eleven men, which is the same as the number of goals they’ve scored at home all season...

I was still searching for Gainsborough’s famous 26 when Boston opened the scoring after six minutes. United forayed forward on an amber tide, Weir-Daley and Yates pinging the ball about in a nauseating blur, before squaring across the goalmouth. Adam Boyes burst a blood vessel to reach the far post and finished for his first goal for the club. We should think of a song for him, since the Yoof had clearly thought of one for pretty much everyone else – “Duh, duh, duh, duh GARETH JELLYMAN!”

Tinpot squandered a few chances before Boston killed the game shortly before half-time. Yates and Weir-Daley were on the same wavelength once again and this time teed up Danny Sleath, who used the defensive cover to unsight the goalkeeper and bend the ball home. It was the perfect time to score.

Anthony Church struck the crossbar early in the second half as United continued to dominate, though the points were well and truly secure only when Boyes rounded goalkeeper Gavin Ward to stroke the ball into an empty net. Not a bad night for the striker, who probably doubled his career goal tally.

By this time it was a raucous atmosphere, the stand bouncing up and down to every song. Redemption. In the best possible way.

Next Match: Stalybridge Celtic vs. Boston United on Tuesday


Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Worcester City 2 Boston United 0

I can’t think of a single positive about this one. Normally, there’s a silver lining of some sort – a decent atmosphere, a nice pub lunch, a good laugh, Lincoln losing – but Worcester away was just a rolling bank of dark, ominous clouds.

Boston were completely outplayed, with deficiencies exposed in just about every area of the park by a side not exactly setting the Conference North alight. The defence, still not fully nursed back to health from a succession of injuries, looked lightweight. The midfield were clearly intimidated by a bullish Worcester not afraid to present their studs in the challenge. The strikeforce only bothered turning up in the second-half and never really looked like scoring. Add into the cocktail an atrocious referee and a dilapidated stadium, and you’ve got a very miserable and forgettable occasion. I was also mammothly hungover.  

St George’s Lane oozed character: not in the usual quaint non-league way – original turnstiles, wooden seats or a 104-year-old programme seller – but rather an urgently-needs-to-be-dragged-out-of-the-sepia-tone-era kind of charm. The main stand contained a great deal of wood more than the regulations allow, the terrace behind one end sort of tapered down to nothingness, the stadium clock didn’t have any hands (useful) and there was a disused engine shed on the other side which had been extensively tagged by the Worcester youth. In the second-half, our vantage point was inexplicably raised above the goal, causing big problems for the vertiginous-averse in the Boston support and those without oxygen canisters. The goalmouths had a fine-looking top soil, however, which made us country folk feel right at home.

Sadly, the Worcester players didn’t. They crashed into challenges at every opportunity in order to disrupt Boston’s attempts at playing passing football (for we are obviously the Barcelona of this division...) and then smacked the ball forward, aided by a gusty wind. On the whole, their primitive tactics failed to work, so referee A.J. Hopkins decided to give them some help. We were a good hundred yards away but felt that sinking feeling when the official awarded them a penalty for handball and then booked Shaun Pearson. He must have been the guilty party then, probably lucky to stay on the field in that case. But no, his crime had been to ask Mr. Hopkins who had done the dirty cheating deed. He actually got booked for dissent; the referee had no idea who’d done the crime. Danny Glover scored the spot-kick.

On half-time, a Worcester fan had the audacity to come up and say “Do you lot always play this dirty? Your team are a bunch of fucking animals.” I would be drawn in to the debate, but I think it’s quite an achievement to be so blind AND such a prick.

The wind at their backs (and in our faces, elevated by this bizarre stand) Boston were much improved after the break, with Anthony Church, Spencer Weir-Daley and Ryan Semple having chances. The antagonism continued; with Worcester’s mouthy Irish number two Graham Ward lucky to escape punishment for man-handling the referee and screaming abuse in his face. Ward was clearly irked and took out his frustrations on anyone who came within a five metre radius. Ryan Clarke, a non-memorable ex-Boston player, was also giving it plenty of lip. Unfortunately, they had the last laugh.

When the ref dismissed home goalkeeper Dean Coleman for a baffling handball some ten yards outside his box, there was some optimism that United might claim an undeserved point. But no, because on their only forward foray of the half Shane Clarke put Glover’s cross into his own net. Worcester celebrated like they had won the cup. A painful, painful day.    

Next Match: Gainsborough Trinity vs. Boston United on Tuesday.


Friday, 4 February 2011

Sheffield United 0 Leicester City 1

One of those student nights they have from time to time at Bramall Lane, meaning cheap admission and a nice little essay break. Judging by the number of expensive cameras in my section, the Chinese Society had been to the box office just before me and block booked everything. Or maybe it was Darius Vassell’s Far East fan club. I also had the misfortune of having a Lincoln City fans sat behind me – I mean what are the chances?

One of the Chinese lads asked my on the kick-off who I should look out for in the Blades team – the red and white wizard, the superstar on the billboards in Guangzhou. I replied that none of them were particularly good and there was a very high probability they were going to be relegated. At this point, he turned around to see Andy King lob Leicester into a second minute lead and I slipped back into my seat with a glowing smugness.

At the Norwich City game I thought there had been genuine signs of improvement under Mickey Adams and this continued here. United were extremely unfortunate not to take a point from this game and, in fact, probably should have taken all three. But Adams continues to search in vain for his first win in the job and the side dropped into the relegation berths for the first time since August.

They had the chances – Chris Weale saved brilliantly from Nick Montgomery in the first-half and Elian Parrino at the death, Lee Williamson’s free-kick hit the angle of post and crossbar and Matt Oakley headed another Parrino shot off the line – but tactically it was a mess. The long balls from deep just don’t work at the best of times, let alone when there are two physical centre halves in Ben Mee and Souleymane Bamba to mop everything up.

Marcus Bent looked lost and generally fed up, touching the ball about three times in his sordid 75 minute appearance. When Daniel Bogdanovic finally got on to replace him there were plenty even in my student neutrals area who took time out from checking the Premiership scores to suggest it was maybe time for him to go.

I sense the Blades have neither the personnel nor the good fortune to avoid relegation to League One, completing what has been a slow death for Sheffield football.

Next Match: Worcester City vs. Boston United on Saturday