Northern Premier League


Boston United won their first Northern Premier League title in 1972-73. Since Jim Smith had taken over as player-manager they had finished in 3rd, 4th and 2nd place, having been runners up to Stafford Rangers the previous season. To bolster the attack they had signed 27 year old striker Jim Conde from Bangor City for a small fee. Born in Derbyshire he had joined Wolves when he was 15 and eighteen months later had turned professional. He later moved to Scunthorpe and Tranmere before signing for Bangor in 1966 where he had lived and played ever since. He had scored 30 goals for Bangor the previous season. The plan was for him to play in a 4-3-3 formation alongside John Froggatt and Bobby Svarc. Other signings included Brian Hill from Torquay, 21 year old John Moyes from Chesterfield and Owen Simpson who had played for Orient against Boston in an FA Cup game back in 1968. The highlight of the pre-season games was a 2-0 win against a Sheffield United side that included Welsh international Gil Reece and seven other players with first team experience.

Boston’s opening Northern Premier League fixture was a trip to Bangor and Jim Conde scored two goals against his former club in a 3-1 win. Boston won their next two games before dropping their first point after visiting former League side Bradford Park Avenue and returning with a 1-1 draw. In the return match at York Street three weeks later Boston retained their top spot in the table with a crushing 3-0 win with a brace from Svarc and a cracking drive by Conde. At the start of October Boston went to Stafford who were neck and neck with the Pilgrims. In front of a crowd of 3535 Boston put in what Jim Smith described as “the best league performance since I have been manager” to record a 1-0 away win courtesy of a simple goal by Bobby Svarc who chested down a cross from Howard Wilkinson before volleying the ball past the ‘keeper. By the end of October Jim Smith had left the club to become manager of Fourth Division side Colchester United. Keith Jobling took over the managerial reins – ably assisted by future Leeds United and England manager Howard Wilkinson as player-coach. Striker Bobby Svarc followed Smith to Colchester after scoring his 20th Boston United goal of the season in a 1-1 draw with Gainsborough Trinity on Boxing Day. Boston finished the year on top of the table, level on points with Wigan Athletic but with three games in hand. Boston’s game against Runcorn at the start of the year was called off when many of the Runcorn team became victims of a flu epidemic. At the end of January Alan Tewley was brought in from Crewe Alexandra as a replacement for Svarc. Boston got to 50 Northern Premier League games unbeaten with a 4-0 win over Fleetwood, but the run came to an end just two games later when they went down 1-0 at Skelmersdale, who by coincidence had been the last team to beat them more than a year earlier. A 0-0 draw on Monday 16th April in front of 4964 at Wigan left Boston needing just two points to clinch the title. They did it in style the following Saturday at York Street with a 4-1 win over Altrincham. It was United’s 50th home game without defeat. John Froggatt scored the 1st and 3rd goals and made the 2nd for Alan Tewley. The 4th goal was created by a piece of artistry by Cliff Wright in setting up Jim Conde in the last minute.

Boston eventually finished 9 points ahead of Scarborough and 10 points ahead of Wigan and Altrincham. The Northern Premier League Championship Trophy was presented to Boston captain Dick Bate by league chairman Mr D.T. Keighley before the Pilgrims took on and beat Southern League Champions Kettering Town at the end of the season. Jim Conde was top scorer for the season with 26 goals.

The 72/3 team

The United First Team 1972/73

BACK ROW: John Croy, Billy Howells, Phil Waller, Malcolm White, Dick Bate, John Froggatt, Jim Conde. FRONT ROW: John Lakin, John Moyes, Cliff Wright, Howard Wilkinson, Alan Tewley.

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