On the brink! Boston United fans attend public meeting as club faces liquidation - 15 years ago today

The Pilgrims’ future was in doubt as the club owed £3.5m
Director Brian James, general manager John Blackwell and head of youth Steve Welsh at the public meeting.Director Brian James, general manager John Blackwell and head of youth Steve Welsh at the public meeting.
Director Brian James, general manager John Blackwell and head of youth Steve Welsh at the public meeting.

Fifteen years ago today Boston United fans made their way into York Street and took their places in the stands.

Only this wasn't a matchday. This was something far more significant.

On June 17, 2007, dads, sons, mums and daughters spent Father's Day questioning whether they would ever see their beloved club kick a ball again.

How The Standard reported the event.How The Standard reported the event.
How The Standard reported the event.

The tears which flowed as the Pilgrims dropped out of the Football League following their final-day relegation at Wrexham were nothing compared to the looks of concern across faces a decade an a half ago.

Boston were in serious financial trouble, debts of £3.5 million seeing them facing liquidation.

Club owners Lavaflow were in takeover talks with property developers Standing Alone, but few held out hope.

Indeed, Barrie Pierpoint - the former Leicester City chief executive who was working alongside United general manager John Blackwell and academy boss Steve Welsh to organise a fighting fund - went as far as stressing any donations to the club would not find their way into the coffers of either of these bodies.

How The Standard reported the event the following week.How The Standard reported the event the following week.
How The Standard reported the event the following week.

The father's day meeting was the club's Plan B. They hoped a rallying call would show how much the club meant to the community.

“Things are totting up. We’re not asking people to raid their piggybank or bankrupt themselves," Mr Pierpoint said.

“But if 500 fans can each raise £1,000 in sponsorship then we’ve got a start of half a million quid.

“We are also appealing to those local businesses that don’t want to see Boston United die.

There were anxious looks on the faces of fans.There were anxious looks on the faces of fans.
There were anxious looks on the faces of fans.

“And if each of these businesses had a good stake in Boston United then they can help run the club, rather than a single person who is constantly having to put his hand in his pocket.”

During the meeting the trio each took to the mic to make their pleas.

“I’ve always said a big town like Boston needs a football club,” said Mr Blackwell who, like many of his colleagues including wife Maureen, were still turning up for their day jobs despite not being paid.

“It’s a great advert for the town and Boston United means so much to all its fans.

Supporters packed into York Street.Supporters packed into York Street.
Supporters packed into York Street.

“I never doubted the fans here didn’t want a football club. I’ve been here 28 years and it's my life. But it means so much to so many people.”

Mr Pierpoint's pitch was mostly the hard sell, telling employers to keep their workers happy by chucking a few grand the way of the Pilgrims.

But he then decided to make things personal.

“Sponsor me to lose two stone,” Mr Pierpoint joked, opening his jacket to reveal a healthy waistline.

That joke offered some comic relief at a tense meeting, but perhaps the most poignant observation came from Mr Blackwell.

He said: "It was nice to see people from our shirt sponsors Chestnut Homes in the crowd.

“Their deal has now ended but they still came out to support us."

Indeed, Chestnut chairman David Newton was so moved by the club's plight he drove home pondering what he could do to help.

The rest, as they say, is history.

How Boston United fans reacted to the meeting

“What I’ve just heard is music to my ears because he (Mr Pierpoint) was talking about the thing the (Supporters') Trust has been talking about since its inception. He was talking about the club being a community club where everyone from the local area is involved. If we can make this club run by the people for the people then it will become the centre of the community" - BUFCST chairman Mel Moxon

“Boston should go back to being a locally-backed club. Today was a start and the club should move upwards from now on. This was the chance for the fans to back it fully” - Paul Collinwood

“As a fan I think it could be very exciting. Hopefully, it’s the start of a new era” – Paul Lomas

“One small step at a time. The number of people who turned up reflected the thought that we have the basis to move in the right direction” – former club chief executive Kevan Mugleston

"Today the people of Boston came out and showed they want a club for their town. They showed they wanted football people and not property people behind their club” - Pete McKenna

“The most important thing was that we got people back into the ground. Everyone who turned up will realise that they are not the only person who cares about the club and will realise that this situation affects us all. On Monday at work every one of these fans will tell 10 more mates about the event" - Adam Upsall

“There are still a lot of questions we need to ask of Standing Alone and Lavaflow. But it’s nice to know there is a Plan B taking shape” - Steve Maw