Boston United 1-0 Wimbledon

Champion of Champions Trophy

14th December 1977

Before the formation of the Alliance Premier Football League in 1979 - which later became the Conference, the best non-league football divisions in England were the geographically determined Northern Premier League and Southern League Premier Division. People were curious as to which of the two leagues had the best side, so a challenge match was arranged after the end of each season to pit the champions of the Northern Premier League against the champions of the Southern League. It was formally called the Inter League Challenge Cup, but soon became better known as the "Champion of Champions Trophy" and was played for over two legs. Boston United won the Northern Premier League four times in the 1970s. In their first "Champion of Champions" series they beat Kettering Town 4-1 at home and 2-1 away to pick up the trophy in 1973. The following season they were NPL champions again and faced Dartford. This time they lost the away leg 1-3 and could only draw 2-2 in the home leg. Boston's next NPL title was in 1977. The Southern League was won by Wimbledon, who were also voted into the Football League at the end of the season, whereas Boston United failed in their application as their York Street ground was deemed as being below the required standard.

The first leg was played at Wimbledon's Plough Lane ground. The star of the Wimbledon side was their goalkeeper Dickie Guy. He had come to prominence three years earlier when Wimbledon had knocked First Division side Burnley out of the FA Cup before holding League Champions Leeds United to a 0-0 draw at Elland Road in the following round. In the Leeds game Guy had made a string of fine saves including keeping out a penalty from Scottish international Peter Lorimer. His performance in the FA Cup that season earned him a Rothmans Football Award and to this day Dickie is the only non-league player to be honoured with one of the awards. Another familiar name in the line up at Plough Lane was central defender Dave 'Harry' Bassett. He had been instrumental in the club's rise into the Football League and would later become manager of the club, lifting the Dons from the Fourth Division to the First Division in just four seasons. The first leg ended in a 1-1 draw. Boston fell behind to a lucky goal by John Leslie, whose miscued shot looped over Gerry Stewart. But Boston fought back and substitute John Moyes levelled the scores with a diving header with his first touch of the ball.

The second leg was played at York Street a week later. Boston dictated the play through the controlled midfield work of Dave Poplar, John Moyes and Bob Hosker and some fine attacking moves by Brian Bates and Jim Kabia. Wimbledon were the first side to get the ball in the net when on five minutes Roger Connell forced the ball home. But the referee spotted an infringement and the goal was ruled out. Four minutes from half-time Poplar saved the day by heading a centre by John Leslie out from under the bar. Boston took the lead on the stroke of half-time. Hosker rifled an angled drive goalwards and Guy could only parry the effort into the path of KABIA who had the simple task of tapping home from close range to give him his eleventh goal of the season.

Jim Kabia

Jim Kabia

In the second half Hosker, Bates and Kabia all made Guy earn his keep to ensure that Boston didn't increase their lead. A Freddie Taylor corner eluded his grasp but he was saved by the crossbar. Right at the end Bates came close to sealing the result, but Guy got down well to smother his crisp shot.

Boston went on to win their fourth Northern Premier League title, ahead of Wigan Athletic who were elected to the Football League despite finishing as runners up.

Boston United: Gerry Stewart, Albert Phelan, Freddie Taylor, Dave Poplar, Dave Adamson, Steve Thompson (Colin Symm 43), Neil Callery, John Moyes, Brian Bates, Jim Kabia, Bob Hosker.

Wimbledon: Dickie Guy, Jeff Bryant, Dave Galvin, Dave Donaldson, Terry Eames, Paul Denny, Steve Galliers, Geoff Davies, Phil Summerhill, Roger Connell, John Leslie. Sub: Steve Parsons.

Attendance: 1550.

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