Towards the end of the 53/4 season Boston United arranged a friendly match against GAK (Grazer Athletik sport Klub) - an Austrian side from Graz who were touring Great Britain and Ireland. GAK played in the top division in Austria and had finished the season in fourth place. Their side contained four Austrian internationals. GAK's game against Boston United was the eighth and final match in their hectic seventeen-day tour. It had begun with a match against Peterborough United and had included opposition from Ireland (Distillery & Drumcondra), Scotland (Stranraer) and Wales (Bangor City). Boston had sought donations from local supporters to raise money to cover the extra expenses necessary to arrange the match. A total of £23 10s 0d was raised, and in addition to the money a Mr Tomlinson of Boston donated a live pig to the fund. A special souvenir programme was produced for the event - edited by Mr J D Blades of Kirton.
The Boston side featured three guest appearances - Ray Middleton, the Derby County goalkeeper and Cecil McCormack and Jack Edwards, strikers from Notts County. Before the match started, the crowd was informed over the tannoy that Ray Middleton had been appointed as the new player-manager of the club and would take over from Freddy Tunstall at the end of the current season. An unusual feature of the match for that time was that substitutes were allowed - it was the policy of GAK to use a different goalkeeper in each half. Before the kick-off there was a Wembley style line-up of the teams where the Austrian manager, introduced by Mr George Leafe of the Lincolnshire FA, presented a commemorative plaque to the home club.
The game provided excellent, thrilling entertainment for the large Boston crowd. Right from the start the Austrians showed that they were a dangerous, attacking side when clever ball control almost set Engel free. Then Middleton had to make the save of the match when Sigmund fired in a cracking shot, but the keeper managed to collect it from just under the bar. Play now switched to the other end and this time the Austrian keeper Zrinsky had to make a fine save from a meteoric shot by Jim Ramage. The next attack of note resulted in another long-range effort, this time by Edwards, which went just wide of the left upright. The Austrians now created a couple of good chances and Middleton had to make diving saves to stop shots by Eigenstiller and Sigmund. Then a clever lob by Engel almost deceived Middleton, but he anticipated well and was able to run back and collect. A rocket like free kick from 30 yards out by Sigmund required another superb save. Just before half time, Zrinsky magnificently saved a fierce shot by Edwards, then McCormack put the ball in the net, but he was ruled as being offside. Just after the restart McCormack almost broke the upright with a pile-driver of a shot. In a goal mouth scramble Edwards somehow managed to screw the ball wide when a goal looked certain. McCormack then combined with Edwards and again the upright trembled from a powerful effort. As the game drew to a close the Austrians scored the only goal of the night. A GAK attack developed and ENGEL was put in the clear and he lobbed the ball high over Middleton into the net. There was some debate as to whether he scored from an offside position.
United team: 1. Ray Middleton, 2. Ralph Robinson, 3. Peter Dixon, 4. Jim Ramage, 5. Vic Smith, 6. Alex Bloxham, 7. James Sheridan, 8. Arthur Hall, 9. Cecil McCormack, 10. Jack Edwards, 11. Tommy Louden.
GAK team: 1.Frans Zrinsky & Josef Amreich, 2. Erich Frisch, 3. Alfred Pestitschek, 4. Erich Sajko, 5. Harry Ginhart, 6. Fredy Kölley, 7. Anton Aigner, 8. Otto Sigmund, 9. Dominikus Engel, 10. Kurt Eigenstiller, 11. Stefan Kölly.
Courtesy of Becky Thompson
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