Soon after war with Germany was declared on Sunday 3rd September 1939, organised football in England was suspended as the country prepared to meet the Nazi threat. Despite being the subject of an FA Inquiry during the summer, Boson United had made a good start to their Midland League campaign, opening the season with a 6-1 home win against Newark, but that all ended when the Midland League was disbanded after just three games had been played. After a month of anxiety, false alarms and uncertainty, it soon became clear that the expected blitzkrieg was not imminent. This led to some former members to propose the setting up of an Emergency Midland League. The original Midland League had contained many reserve sides of Football League clubs, but with the League still being suspended this only left non-league clubs to make up the numbers. Boston United joined the new set up along with seven other clubs, including the then non-league side Scunthorpe United. With its reduction in size, the new competition was to be split into two halves, each consisting of an all-play-all league. Scunthorpe won the first emergency league, finishing two points ahead of Peterborough - Boston came 5th. Scunthorpe had done the double over Boston, winning 1-0 away and 7-0 at home. Boston began the second emergency league with consecutive matches against Scunthorpe. In the first game, at Scunthorpe's ground, Boston suffered another heavy defeat, going down by eight goals to two. In the return match a week later the result would be different.
The phoney war was drawing to a close. The British Expeditionary Force of 158,000 men had landed in France to bolster their defences. At home, bacon, butter and sugar were being rationed and petrol had risen in price to 1/9d halfpenny (9p) a gallon. A night time black-out was in place and people were being exhorted to dig for victory, buy war bonds and not to travel. Two million 19 to 27 year olds were called up to join the national services. Amongst the new conscripts were Boston United's keeper Pat Bland and strikers Chick Read and Syd Harman. This meant some shuffling of the side was necessary, so reserve keeper Schofield got his first team chance and local youngster Charles Barton was brought in at outside right.
The game was fast and open with both teams attacking in turn. In the first Boston attack Barton was brought down and the crowd appealed for a penalty, but the referee waved play on. A Scunthorpe raid found the Boston defence spreadeagled but McDonagh managed to make the crucial tackle to deny Swain. Barton, who was proving to be a constant danger, then saw his hard shot fly just inches too high. Wilf Notley, who had been Boston's top scorer with 53 goals the previous season, then picked out Freddy Tunstall with a neat pass, but Scunthorpe's keeper Middleton dived full-length to turn his shot round the post. A well placed corner by Roy Houghton caused panic in the Scunthorpe defence, but the ball was eventually cleared. Scofield then had to make two quick saves of hard low drives, the first from Fleetwood and the second from Greaves. The half finished with a spell of Boston pressure that saw a Notley header bounce off a Scunthorpe defender after beating Middleton and Tunstall shooting just wide. Scunthorpe started the second half playing beautiful open football that gave the Boston defence a hard time. The home defenders however held steady and Scunthorpe were unable to break the deadlock. Middleton then had to leave the field to receive attention after a collision with Barton, so Jones took his place in goal. Just before Middleton returned, Boston took advantage of their extra man. Houghton sent in a cross to Tommy Mitcham, who slipped the ball back to TUNSTALL who fired in a low shot that went between Jones' legs into the net. With Middleton back on the pitch Scunthorpe now attacked strongly in search of an equaliser. It was however Boston who scored the final goal of the match when Notley sent over a perfect centre for BARTON to head home.
In May 1940 the German army swept through the Low Countries and into France and within weeks the British Expeditionary Force was defeated. In the return match in Normandy four years later that result would be different as well.
Boston Utd: 1. Schofield, 2. McDonagh, 3. Sid Ellis, 4. Irvine Rhodes, 5. Ernie Wright, 6. Wain, 7. Roy Houghton, 8. Charles Barton, 9. Wilf Notley, 10. Freddy Tunstall, 11. Tommy Mitcham.
Scunthorpe Utd: 1. Middleton, 2. Staniland, 3. Jones, 4. Stocks, 5. Millington, 6. Allen, 7. Greaves, 8. Fleetwood, 9. Nightingale, 10. Maw, 11. Swain.
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