Boston United 3-2 Sheffield United

Mather Cup

30th April 1947

The Mather Invitation Challenge Cup is a trophy that can be used by Boston United as a prize to entice top opposition to Boston for a fund raising match, with the proceeds going to any worthy cause chosen by the club’s Directors. It was presented to the club by Mrs Louise Mather, the landlady of the White Hart Hotel in Boston. The first match for the trophy was in April 1947 and the opposition was a Sheffield United team containing a handful of regulars from the First Division squad. Boston’s team manager Freddy Tunstall had previously played for Sheffield United. The former England international had scored the winning goal for them in the FA Cup final against Cardiff back in 1925. Boston striker Jack Stone also had connections with the Mather Cup opponents. He had joined Boston from Sheffield United the previous summer for a transfer fee of £250. This was the first time that Boston had paid a League club a fee for a player.

Faced with such top class opponents, the Boston team raised their game to match. Jock Bayne in goal played a brilliant game. Captain Jimmy Harris produced sterling work throughout, including a brilliant run down the wing that led to a Boston goal. Roy Houghton - the cousin of Aston Villa’s Eric Houghton - played copybook football with many fine centres. Freddy Tunstall also unveiled a new winger for the match in 19 year old miner from Wombwell - Jennings. He looked to be a great find as he frequently beat veteran Sheffield back Harry Hooper.

The game started with chances at both ends. Sheffield centre-forward Henry Mills handled the ball when in a good position just three yards out with only Bayne to beat. Then at the other end Richard Young made a fortunate goal-line clearance when his knee got in the way of a header from Harris after a corner. Harry Sharp then ballooned the rebound over the bar. Sheffield then attacked again. Bayne had to make two quick saves, but he couldn’t gather the ball and at the third attempt MILLS opened Sheffield’s account. It was the only goal of the first half. Bayne was soon back in action at the start of the second half. He saved at point blank range from Mills, then dived to the feet of John Pickering to snatch the ball before he could get a shot in. Bayne then got behind a piledriver of a shot from Pickering that he couldn’t hold. The shot winded him and he needed attention from the sponge of Boston trainer Chinks Howard before he could continue. Boston then attacked and Sharp saw a long-range effort hit the bar. Boston got their equaliser when MARTIN stabbed the ball home in a goalmouth scramble. Just before the end Boston won a penalty, but Jack Stone missed the target to send the game into extra time.
Fourteen minutes into the extra period Sheffield regained the lead when RAINS scored. Boston equalised five minutes after the changeover when the aforementioned run by Harris ended in a cross that dropped on the goal-line allowing SHARP to crash the ball into the net. Two minutes later Boston scored the winning goal. Stone picked up the ball and worked his way out to the wing while Houghton ran into the centre. Stone slipped the ball through to HOUGHTON and Fred White in the Sheffield goal never saw the powerful shot enter the net.

Harry Sharp

Harry Sharp

The proceeds of the game went to the NFU Flood Distress Fund to aid the many farmers in the Fens who had been hit by severe flooding during the winter. The Sheffield directors helped out by paying the whole of their team’s expenses, including the hire of the bus and the meal at Loveley’s Café after the match.

Boston Utd: 1. Jim Bayne, 2. George Darwin, 3. Joe Troth, 4. Jim Harris, 5. Roly Depear, 6. Harold Pond, 7. Roy Houghton, 8. Jack Stone, 9. Harry Sharp, 10. Martin, 11. Jennings.

Sheffield United: 1. Fred White, 2. Harry Hooper, 3. Richard Young, 4. Sam Thorpe, 5. George Tootill, 6. Norman Dingwall, 7. Rains, 8. John Pickering, 9. Henry Mills, 10. Bennett, 11. George Jones.

Attendance: 4,890

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