Boston United 2-1 Northwich Victoria

Northern Premier League

5th February 1977

The most successful decade so far in the history of Boston United is without doubt the 1970s. At the time of this "Classic Game" the club had already racked up two Northern Premier League Titles; two Northern Premier League Cups; two Northern Premier League Challenge Shields; a Non-League Champion of Champions Cup; an Eastern Professional Floodlit Cup; and had just won the Lincolnshire County Cup by beating a full strength Lincoln City side 3-1. They had also put together some exceptional runs in the FA Cup, beating League opposition in the form of Southport and Hartlepool, and holding First Division Derby County to a draw at the Baseball Ground. Even more success was soon to come.

The race for the Northern Premier League Title in 1976/7 was close all the way to the end. Any one of half a dozen teams was in with a chance. When Northwich Victoria visited York Street in February 1977, Boston were just topping the table ahead of Lancaster City, Matlock Town and Scarborough, but Northwich were just five points behind them with four games in hand. The Vics, named after the monarch at the time of their formation in 1874 had been in the 2nd Division of the Football League between 1892 and 1894. Their aim to regain League status had been boosted this season by an amazing FA Cup run. They had knocked out Rochdale, Peterborough and Watford, before going out to Oldham in a fourth round tie at Maine Road in front of 29,000. Boston United had recently parted company with their manager Howard Wilkinson, who had left to take charge at Mossley. In a new approach, team affairs at Boston were now being managed by a players' co-operative being led by Gordon Bolland and Freddie Taylor. Bolland was born in Boston and had had a highly successful footballing career playing for Millwall, Chelsea, Orient, Charlton Athletic and Norwich City before returning to play for his home town club.

The match against Northwich was a fierce, physical encounter. Boston had already taken two points off the Vics when a Dave Poplar hat-trick had proved decisive in the 3-1 win at the Drill Field back in October. After some early raids on the Northwich goal, Boston suffered a set-back in the ninth minute when Stuart HUTCHISON fired home after Frank Corrigan had chipped the ball over the defensive wall from a free-kick. In the 22nd minute the scores were levelled. Bolland floated a right wing corner into the area and Northwich’s veteran keeper Ken Hancock could only knock the ball down to the feet of Dave POPLAR who had the simple task of tapping the ball into the open net from close range. Boston now began to get on top, and for the rest of the game looked to be the better side. It took them until the 69th minute to make their superiority pay. Good work by Dave Adamson and Colin Symm opened up the Northwich defence to allow Jim KABIA to score the winning goal from close in. The end of the game saw some nasty incidents from both sets of players. While Steve Thompson was being treated for an elbow thrust in his face by Hutchison, a scuffle broke out between Lawrie Madden and Hutchison. Fortunately the referee was unsighted so Madden escaped a possible dismissal as he had already been booked. Hutchison wouldn’t let the matter lie and from the resulting free kick he launched himself at Madden with the intention of causing as much damage as possible - but he missed his victim entirely. The referee had seen enough though and had no hesitation in sending the Northwich striker off.

The win proved to be decisive. Boston went on to collect their third Northern Premier League title - on goal difference after finishing level on points with the Vics.

United team: 1. Gerry Stewart, 2. Dave Adamson, 3. Freddie Taylor, 4. Dave Poplar, 5. Lawrie Madden, 6. Steve Thompson, 7. Jim Kabia, 8. Colin Symm, 9. Bobby Brown, 10. Gordon Bolland, 11. Neil Callery, Sub. Albert Holmes.

Northwich Victoria team: 1. Ken Hancock, 2. Keith Eccleshare, 3. Phil Jones, 4. Les Wain, 5. Albert Nieman, 6. Ken Jones, 7. Jim Collier, 8. Frank Corrigan, 9. Phil Smith, 10. Johnny King, 11. Stuart Hutchison, Sub. Jeff Swede.

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