Boston United have crossed paths with Kidderminster Harriers on quite a few occasions in the past. These include the Southern League in 1958/9, the Alliance / Gola League / Conference from 1983/4 to 1992/3, the FA Trophy in 1985/6 when the Harriers defeated Boston at the first hurdle in the season following their trip to Wembley, and the current season in the Nationwide Football League. This classic game however comes from the first of two seasons in the mid-sixties when Boston United played in the West Midlands League.
After being within a whisker of going out of business in 1964, Boston United had remained alive by spending a season in the Premier Division of the Boston and District League. At the end of that season former Irish international Don Donovan was appointed player-manager after being released by Grimsby Town. He brought with him from Grimsby two players who were to become the backbone of the Boston side for many seasons to come; full back John Lakin and wing half Billy Howells. For his first season in charge United played in the United Counties League, which they easily won. In their search for better opposition they then applied for membership of a number of leagues. Somewhat surprisingly, the best opportunity they were afforded came from a switch to the West Midlands League, so they started the 1966/7 season playing against teams from the other side of the country. Amongst the sides in the West Midlands League at that time were some familiar names from today, including Kidderminster Harriers along with Tamworth, Halesowen Town, Hednesford and Bromsgrove Rovers. There were also a few less well known sides such as Lower Gornal Athletic, Brierley Hill Alliance and Lye Town. Donovan stuck with the squad that had gained UCL honours the previous season, the only major new signing being former England amateur international Peter Thompson, who had been brought in from Hartlepools United where he had been top scorer two season's previously with 20 goals.
In their first West Midlands game they travelled to Bromsgrove and twice had to come from behind to beat Rovers with two goals from Jimmy Fell and one from Jimmy Rayner. Their West Midland League home debut pitted them against Kidderminster Harriers. In a spruced up York Street ground, it soon became apparent that Boston had taken a step up in class by joining the new league. After falling behind on five minutes to an opportunist goal by Jimmy RAYNER, Kidderminster settled down and began to play well. After 28 minutes they got their deserved equaliser when WASSALL netted. Boston now went through a phase, which lasted from the later stages of the first half into the start of the second half, where they showed indecision and produced inaccurate passes. Boston however went in front again when RAYNER scored by bundling Kidderminster keeper Wilcox over the line with the ball. Their lead lasted for less than a minute before Kidderminster equalised again. The second Kidderminster goal spurred Boston into action and they now began to play better and better as the game headed towards its conclusion. The two goals that clinched the points for Boston were both powerful long-range shots from outside the penalty area by Brian CLIFTON.
Although not apparent at the time, the match would prove to be a decisive one, as at the end of the season Boston would finish as West Midlands League champions, three points ahead of Kidderminster. Jimmy Rayner was top scorer with 49 goals in 51 appearances. Peter Thompson wasn't far behind with 42 goals in 46 appearances - it can't be often that a striker nets so many goals and doesn't finish top of the scoring charts.
United team: 1. Ken Oxford, 2. John Lakin, 3. Geoff Barrowcliffe, 4. Brian Clifton, 5. Don Donovan, 6. Billy Howells, 7. David Robinson, 8. Jimmy Rayner, 9. Bobby Baker, 10. Peter Thompson, 11. Jimmy Fell. Sub: Paddy Roche.
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