The East Anglian Cup is a knockout cup for football teams in the east of England. Past winners have included Tottenham Hotspur ‘A’ team in 1949/50 and 1957/8, King’s Lynn in 1965/6, 1966/7, 1967/8 and 1984/5 and more recently Spalding United in 2003/4 and 2004/5. Boston United entered the competition in the late 1950s and early 1960s and won it once in 1960/1.
The 1960/1 season turned out to be one of the worst seasons in the club’s history. As the season began however Boston’s manager Ray Middleton was full of optimism as he declared: “I am prepared to wager that Boston United will end the season very near the top of the Southern League”. As it happened they finished rock bottom – the first time this had happened since the club’s formation in 1933. The only real highlight was their surprising triumph in the East Anglian Cup.
Boston began their East Anglian Cup campaign with a home match against Holbeach. In front of just 1075 supporters – their lowest home crowd for many years – Boston struggled. They eventually took the lead in the 60th minute when Hodgson slotted home the rebound after an initial shot by debutant Edwards had been blocked. Boston should have been awarded a second goal in the 70th minute after the ball crossed the line, but the referee failed to see it. Fox won a penalty five minutes from time and Stamp scored from the spot to earn Holbeach a replay. The replay was also played at Boston as Holbeach waived home advantage in the hope of getting a bigger gate. Just 818 people turned up to see Boston win 3-1 in very muddy conditions. Arthur Bottom got all three goals but winger Terry Glossop had a hand in all of them.
The next round saw Boston at home to Kettering Town - who a month earlier had knocked them out of the FA Cup. After a goal-less first half Kettering went in front 25 seconds after the restart through a clever lob by Armour. Staite levelled the scores with a flying header in the 72nd minute and Glossop got the decider when he drove home a cross by Marshall six minutes later. Bottom almost got a third in the closing minutes.
The next opponents were March (in April) who had knocked out King’s Lynn in the previous round. Two mistakes by March’s left back Warrington gave Boston a two goal lead. March got a goal back in the 32nd minute. Boston increased their lead ten minutes into the second half when Murphy netted after Coyle’s shot rebounded off the post. Hughes made it 4-1 after walking the ball into the net. March got a consolation through a tap in by Longworth.
The semi-final was against Cambridge City and Boston were very lucky to progress through to the final. Cambridge lost their goalkeeper after just six minutes when he dislocated his shoulder. Then 20 minutes from the end their outside left suffered concussion following a collision and had to leave the field for good. Boston took the lead in the sixth minute when former City striker Coyle latched onto a poor back pass and fired the ball into the far corner. Coyle gave Boston their second goal in the 20th minute with a powerful shot after a great run. Cambridge got a goal back in the 54th minute but couldn’t find an equaliser. The referee mistakenly blew for time on 83 minutes and the players had to return to the pitch to complete the match when the mistake was realised.
The final was at Delphian League Champions Hertford. Following a thunderstorm two hours before kick off it was touch and go as to whether the match would go ahead. Don Hazledine gave Boston the lead following a corner. They went further ahead three minutes into the second half when Mooney took advantage of a fumble by the Hertford keeper. Hertford got a goal back in the 72nd minute through Quartley. Great saves by Roberts in the Boston goal maintained Boston’s lead and they held on to win the trophy.
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