PILGRIMS IN PROFILE: Ian Ross
In the space of four 2005 days, a young midfielder went from knocking Boston out of the Carling Cup to lining up for them.
Six years later he was back on a permanent basis, making a further 112 appearances and captaining the club through the 2013-2014 season.
He’s this week’s Pilgrim in Profile: Ian Ross.
Ross began his career as a trainee at Sheffield United, debuting at 19 against the Pilgrims in the League Cup in 2005.
Named alongside Blades skipper Chris Morgan in a mixed starting XI, his goal proved the difference at Brammall Lane, firing home from the edge of the area for the game’s only goal.
The midfielder had impressed the United camp enough for them to pursue a loan deal and with four days left in the transfer market.
The Pilgrims had their man and Ross came on for Stewart Talbot against Mansfield Town for his league debut at York Street.
His first start brought a first league goal for the midfielder, a late consolation at Northampton Town, as the teenager kept captain Stewart Talbot out of the United team.
Ross started the next 11 games as Boston went on the longest unbeaten run of their Football League years; taking 20 points from 10 league games alongside a 2-1 LDV Vans Trophy win at home to Huddersfield Town.
That run saw Ross score a further three goals for United, all at home, as he collected two man-of-the-match awards for his go-ahead goals against Peterborough, Bristol Rovers and Torquay.
Impressed by United’s form and Ross’s contribution, the league awarded the Pilgrims’ number 22 the Player of the Month award for October.
Denied permission to play by the Blades, Ross’ run in the team ended when Boston travelled to Swindon in the FA Cup, but he returned to face Rushden & Diamonds at Nene Park.
Phil Gulliver’s stoppage time winner stopped the Boston unbeaten run reaching 13.
As per the original tie, Ross was forced out of the home replay with Swindon as the League One side had keeper Tom Heaton sent off on the way to a 4-1 defeat at York Street.
Steve Evans understandably kept the same side for the following League game against Notts County, but Ross was back for the LDV Vans Trophy game against Kidderminster Harriers.
Relegated to the Conference the previous season, Harriers embarrassed a weakened United side with a 3-0 win.
Ross ended his time at Boston with a win (2-1 at home to Wrexham), and after sitting out of the FA Cup defeat to Doncaster Rovers his loan was over.
He joined Bury later that season, borrowed by Notts County for 2006-2007.
Alongside former and future Pilgrims in the Magpies squad (the likes of McCann, Lee, Silk, Dudfield, White), Ross enjoyed regular football under Steve Thompson as County finished 13th while Boston were relegated.
The midfielder faced the Pilgrims both home and away.
The following year saw Sheffield United dispatch Ross to Rotherham United. He was released by his boyhood Blades in 2008 and joined Gainsborough Trinity.
Ross enjoyed his most successful Non-League spell at Alfreton Town.
In his first year at North Street the Reds finished third in the Conference North and lost the play-off final 2-1 at Fleetwood Town.
The midfield man continued to start regularly the following campaign and Alfreton won the league by 10 points despite playing 15 games in the last seven weeks of the season.
As he did at Notts County, Ross shared the dressing room with a number of notable Boston names: Scott Garner, Nathan Arnold, Daryl Clare, Matt Wilson.
The midfielder again played home and away against Boston as the Pilgrims completed a league double over the champions (1-0 away, 3-2 at home).
His Alfreton career came to an end with that title win and, after a short period with Harrogate Town, Jason Lee and Lee Canoville brought their former teammate in for a permanent stint with the Pilgrims.
The joint-managers put him straight into the XI for a 1-0 FA Trophy win against Workington and he stayed there for all bar two of the 28 matches left that season.
Integral in keeping things ticking in the middle of the park, Ross scored four goals, all away, at Eastwood, Corby, Droyslden and Hyde.
Lee went solo for the following season (2012-2013) and again Ross was almost ever present.
As the season progressed under Graham Drury and then Dennis Greene, the midfielder started being handed the captain’s armband after Gareth Jelleyman left.
Once again Ross scored four goals that season, including a three-goals-in-four run towards the end of the season with efforts at Worcester City and Hinckley before a goal two minutes in at home to Bishop’s Stortford.
He lifted the Lincolnshire Senior Cup as captained in late April (still Boston’s most recent trophy win).
Made permanent captain for 2013-2014, Ross played his last season for United as the Pilgrims had a near-miss with the play-offs.
He missed just two of the first 29 games that season, but after Kyle Dixon and Liam Agnew both arrived on loan in mid-January Ross’ place was suddenly on the bench and he lined up in the XI just seven times through to the end of the season.
Ross had reached the 100-appearance mark at Gloucester City in September 2013, and he marked the occasion with a goal and two assists at Whaddon Road.
Days prior he’d rescued a point with a last-minute free-kick at Oxford City, and another two goals would follow at Bradford Park Avenue and a penalty at home to Vauxhall Motors as he yet again scored four that season.
In his captain’s column at the end of the campaign Ross admitted: “This will probably be my last season at Boston United.”
In fact, he had already played his last game for United, coming on at Leamington in a 0-0 draw.
Ross left with 129 Boston appearances and 16 goals to his name, plus a penalty in the Lincolnshire Cup shoot-out at Stamford.
He faced 57 clubs in 44 stadiums during his two spells across four seasons with United, collecting one Lincolnshire Cup winners’ medal and 11 man-of-the-man awards.