When Chelsea signed up Boston United teenagers Gordon Bolland and Michael Robinson just before Christmas in 1959, Chelsea agreed to send a strong team over to Boston to play in a friendly match to supplement the small fee involved in the transfer. So on Monday 14th March chairman Joe Mears and manager Ted Drake brought a Chelsea side up to Boston containing nine players with first team experience. One notable absence was Chelsea striker Jimmy Greaves. Ted Drake explained that he would have liked to bring the popular goalscorer to Boston, but he had played in the First Division match at Everton on Saturday and was due to play for the England Under-23 side on the Wednesday. Therefore it wasn't possible for him to turn out at Boston on the Monday.
From the start of the game it was clear that Chelsea were a class above Boston United's Southern League side. They were very quick, particularly Mel Scott and Mike Harrison, the latter being favourably compared to an Olympic sprinter for his runs down the wing. They also took every opportunity to have a crack at goal. Whenever the forwards were within range they would fire in a shot. For Boston two players stood out. Don Hazledine had a fine game and stopped many of the dangerous Chelsea attacks, and winger Eric Lister showed that he was in no way outclassed and looked the most likely Boston player to score. Chelsea started strongly, opening the scoring after just ten minutes. A poor back pass by Darroch was pounced upon by Barry BRIDGES who nipped in and scored. Two minutes later the London side was two goals up. Mike Block raced onto a through pass down the wing and crossed to David CLISS who made no mistake with his powerful shot from near the penalty spot. Boston then had a great chance when a shot by Eric Lister that was heading just under the bar was kept out by a miraculous save by Smart. Boston were then denied a clear penalty when Mel Scott made a flying leap and saved one handed in true keeper style, but the referee missed it completely and awarded a corner. From the corner Bryan James saw his shot from three yards out deflected over the bar by a Chelsea defender. At the other end Les Williams made a good catch as a cross from Harrison headed towards three Chelsea forwards in the box. At half time Boston switched their team around by bringing on Don Dykes, Hailstones and Tommy Garvie for Thompson, Geoff Snade and Johnny Garvie. Nine minutes after the restart Chelsea increased their lead. Block once again raced onto a forward pass and then cut into the box and fired in a hard and accurate shot. Williams dived to make a save but he couldn't keep hold of the ball and it came out to BRIDGES who tapped the ball home. Boston got a goal back in the 60th minute. Smart mis-kicked his goal kick and it went straight to DARROCH who volleyed the ball back over Smart's head into the net. Ten minutes from time Chelsea completed the scoring when once again Block stormed down the wing on to a through pass and then crossed to Tony NICHOLAS who scored with a header.
The match programme for the game has become a collector's item. It is regarded as one of the rarest Chelsea programmes and is much sought after. Boston United programme collector Andy Butler would be very interested in hearing from anyone who has one for sale!
Boston team: 1. Les Williams, 2. Thompson (Don Dykes), 3. Geoff Snade (Hailstones), 4. Don Hazledine, 5. Maurice Galley, 6. Tommy Lowder, 7. Darroch, 8. Johnny Garvie (Tommy Garvie), 9. Bryan James, 10. Johnny Mooney, 11. Eric Lister.
Chelsea team: 1. Smart, 2. Ken Shellitoe, 3. Pat Holton, 4. Eric McMillan, 5. Mel Scott, 6. Derek Gibbs, 7. Mike Block, 8. David Cliss, 9. Barry Bridges, 10. Tony Nicholas, 11. Mike Harrison.
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