Boston United 0-1 Newcastle United


18th February 1989

When Boston United found themselves without a fixture one Saturday in mid February 1989, they looked around for a good opponent for a friendly match to fill the gap. Club secretary John Blackwell contacted the Football League and they suggested he get in touch with six leading clubs who had been knocked out of the FA Cup and hadn't been able to find a new fixture themselves. Derby County, Aston Villa, Oxford United, Stoke City and Ipswich Town all politely declined the invitation, but First Division (today's Premiership) Newcastle United agreed to come down to Boston for a friendly match. Playing against Boston fitted in nicely with Newcastle's plans as the squad had already arranged to come down to the Skegness area for a few days training. Newcastle's manager was former Pilgrims' boss Jim Smith. In appreciation of the visit to York Street, George Bateman presented him with a bottle of Lanson Champagne and an engraved Bateman's glass tankard prior to kick-off.

The biggest name in the Newcastle side was Brazilian World Cup star Francisco Ernandi Lima Da Silva - better known by his nickname of Mirandinha. He had become the first Brazilian footballer to play in the English League when he had joined the Tynesiders for £575,000 in 1987. They also fielded Northern Ireland internationals David McCreery and Michael O'Neill, Danish under 21 international Frank Pingel and were captained by England 'B' international Glenn Roeder.

Mirandinha looks on as Chris Cook is treated
(Photograph by Gary Atkinson)

Mirandinha almost opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he was picked out by a cross from John Hendrie, but after controlling the ball he shot straight into John McKenna's arms. Boston now began to play football that almost matched their illustrious opponents. Stewart Hamill was causing havoc on the right wing and £12,500 defender Paul Shirtliffe frequently dispossessed £260,000 Pingel and Hendrie. A shot by David Grant spun just wide of the post, then a long range effort by Paul Wilson clipped the bar. Jim Smith's half-time talk must have been effective as Newcastle took the lead two minutes into the second half. PINGEL drove the ball home from 15 yards out following good work by Kevin Brock. A few minutes later John McKenna made the save of the match to keep out a powerful shot from Hendrie. Newcastle then made two substitutions, bringing on Gary Brazil for Mirandinha and Michael O'Neill for Pingel. Midway through the half O'Neill had what looked like a perfectly good headed goal ruled out. Newcastle managed to hold on to their lead, ending Boston's run of twelve games without defeat. George Kerr's Boston United side finished the season in third place in the Conference - their best finish up until then. Newcastle finished bottom of the First Division and were relegated.

Chris Cook is tackled

In the match programme for the game there was a column written by a guest writer who in this instance was BBC commentator John Motson. He raised an issue that is just as relevant today as it was then. "Why" he asked "do managers deem it necessary to sit on the touchline when a seat in the stand would give them a far better view of the pattern of play? It is generally accepted they feel they can get their message across to the players better and quicker from the dug-out. But most players I have talked to say they can't hear a lot of what is said - or is it that they ignore most of it?"

Boston United: John McKenna, Paul Shirtliffe, David Vaughan (Martin King), Steve McLaughlin (Derek Duggan), Dave Cusack, Steve Buckley, Stewart Hamill, Paul Wilson (Allen Crombie), Chris Cook, David Grant, Peter Rawcliffe.

Newcastle United: Gary Kelly, Kevin Scott, Brian Tinnion, David McCreery, Ray Ransom, Glenn Roeder, John Hendrie, Frank Pingel (Michael O'Neill), Mirandinha (Gary Brazil), Liam O'Brien, Kevin Brock.

Attendance: 3588.

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