At the end of their first post-war season Boston United arranged an attractive fixture against First Division Aston Villa. The match would be played for the Boston Hospital Cup, with the proceeds going towards Boston General Hospital. The Hospital Cup had been used for fundraising challenge matches since 1904, when Lincoln Adelaide had defeated Boston Town 2-1 in the first Hospital Cup Final.
The Aston Villa team had been brought over to Boston by their outside left Eric Houghton. Eric was born in the village of Billingborough - a few miles outside Boston. In 1927 sixteen year old Eric had turned up Boston FC's ground and asked if he could join the reserve side. His request was granted and after a few games for the Reserves in the South Lincs League he was invited to go to Birmingham for a trial with Aston Villa. Villa signed him up and it wasn't long before he progressed from their reserve side into the first eleven. By the time he was twenty-one he had won the first of his seven England caps. Eric played a part in one of the most controversial episodes in the Villa's history, when the club toured Germany in 1938 and almost caused a diplomatic crisis by refusing to perform the Nazi salute. Eric recalled the incident in Rogan Taylor's book "Kicking and Screaming". He said: "They said we'd got to give the Nazi salute, you see, so we went to the centre of the field and gave them the two finger salute and they cheered like mad. They thought it was all right. They didn't know what the two fingers meant." He was also a proficient cricketer - playing in the County Championship for Warwickshire. Facing Eric in the Boston side was a familiar face. His cousin - Roy Houghton - had signed up for Boston a few months earlier.
Boston had an international player of their own in their line-up. The usual number 11 - Tommy Mitcham - failed to turn up on time, so Fred Tunstall their 48 year old manager, formerly of Sheffield United and England, took to the field in his place.
Villa used a very stylish pattern of play, with superb interchanging of positions. Boston didn't try to match their rivals; they just stuck with their usual forceful and incisive methods. Fred Tunstall didn't have his pace of old, but he could still produce deft touches and his trademark piledriver shots. One such effort hit the bottom corner of the goalpost with such force that it ricocheted 25 yards back into the field of play.
|Villa soon went into a two goal lead. On fifteen minutes Frank BROOME put the visitors in front, then six minutes later Eric HOUGHTON extended the lead. Villa now eased off, which proved to be a fatal mistake, as two goals from Jack STONE and one from Harry SHARP gave Boston the lead at the interval. Jack Stone was "guesting" for Boston from Sheffield United. Boston had already made a bid to sign up Stone permanently but it had been turned down. Boston eventually agreed a transfer fee of £250 with the Sheffield side. This was the first time that Boston United had paid a transfer fee to a League club for a player. Twenty minutes into the second half STONE got his hat-trick - from a corner taken by Roy Houghton. Five minutes later BROOME reduced the deficit, but a superb display by the Boston defence prevented any further goals being scored. In particular, Humphris put in a fine performance that even surprised the home supporters.||
After the match the Hospital Cup was presented to Freddy Tunstall by the Mayor of Boston (Councillor W.E. Anderson). The Mayor congratulated both teams on their sporting and sparkling exhibition. The gate receipts were £352 4s 6d, so after deducting expenses of 20 percent, the General Hospital received the grand sum of £280.
Boston Utd: 1. Jim 'Jock' Bayne, 2. George Darwin, 3. Phil Bartley, 4. Jim Harris, 5. Humphris, 6. Bill Pate, 7. Roy Houghton, 8. Jack Stone, 9. Harry Sharp, 10. Jimmy Gardner, 11. Fred Tunstall.
Aston Villa: 1. Alan Wakeman, 2. Ernie 'Mush' Callaghan, 3. Frank Moss, 4. Les Latham, 5. Jimmy Allen, 6. Robert Iverson, 7. Albert Kerr, 8. Frank Broome, 9. Frank Shell, 10. Charlie Craven, 11. Eric Houghton.
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