Winning the Nationwide Conference title and promotion to the Football League should have been one of the greatest achievements in the history of Boston United, but it was a title won by fraud that has forever tarnished the name of the club. The previous season had seen Boston United return to the Conference after an absence of seven seasons, but a lacklustre start had seen them slump to the bottom of the table. However bolstered by new signings – including defender Jim Dick, striker Ken Charlery and midfielders Paul Wilson and Simon Weatherstone results improved and they eventually finished in a respectable mid-table position with Charlery being top scorer. The following season Boston’s most surprising close season signing was to bring in former Liverpool midfielder Mike Marsh from Southport for £15,000. Another new arrival was Paul Ellender who joined from Scarborough for a reported club record fee of £60,000.
The season began with a 1-0 home defeat to Margate in a game which saw James Evans in goal as a stand-in for the suspended Paul Bastock. However the return of Bastock saw Boston gain five wins in the next six games and a rise to the top of the table. A 2-1 home defeat to title rivals Dageham & Redbridge in mid September saw them knocked off pole position. Ken Charlery then joined the Daggers on a free transfer. It wouldn’t be until the end of November that Boston would return to the top following a home win against Leigh RMI. The New Year saw Boston challenging for the title and their games being televised on Sky Sports. All looked virtually lost following three defeats on the trot to Stalybridge Celtic, Hereford United and Dagenham & Redbridge respectively that ended with the Daggers having a seven point lead over the Pilgrims. However there then followed four wins for the Pilgrims that put them back in the driving seat. Daryl Clare was knocking in the goals and he notched up an impressive four goal haul against Dover Athletic. Easter Monday saw one of the most dramatic games of the season. Boston visited Southport knowing that they had to win to regain top position after Dagenham had won their early kick-off game against Morecambe. It was typical bank holiday weather; cold, wet and windy and Southport soon took advantage of the wind blowing towards the Boston goal and began to dominate and they went in at half time 1-0 up. Early in the second half Southport increased their lead. With 20 minutes left Boston finally got on the score sheet when Clare headed home a Clifford cross. Going into injury time Clare struck a dramatic equalizer, firing home after latching on to a through ball from Cook. The Pilgrims had time for one more attack on the Southport goal and they won a corner from which Shaun Teale headed past his own ‘keeper to give Boston an unlikely win. The game proved to be decisive and Boston won the title at Hayes courtesy of a 2-0 win with goals from Simon Weatherstone and substitute Ray Warburton in the final game of the season to end up on top, ahead of Dagenham & Redbridge on goal difference.
A win against Northwich Victoria
The joy of winning the title was however very short lived. On 24th May the club received a visit from FA Compliance Officer Graham Bean investigating irregularities in players’ contracts. Major fraud was uncovered. Manager Steve Evans and Chairman Pat Malkinson had been operating a system of dual contracts where six players held a contract with one value on it and unbeknownst to the players another contract with a lower value on it was submitted to the FA and the Inland Revenue. This led to the club underpaying tax allowing them to spend more money on players than their income justified. The findings of the FA investigation resulted in large fines for the club, Malkinson and Evans and both Evans and Malkinson being suspended from footballing activities. Their case wasn’t helped when it was found that they had attempted to both threaten and bribe witnesses. The club also had four points deducted from their first season in the Football League. But that wasn’t the end of the matter. The contract irregularities were also defrauding the Public Revenue. After a trial at Southwark Crown Court, Malkinson was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for two years. He also had to pay back the £245,188 gained from the fraud along with £78,256 in interest and an additional sum for costs. Evans was sentenced to 12 months in prison, suspended for two years.
Steve Evans leaves court
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