Short but sweet 16! A look at Ross Fitzsimons' time at Boston United

Keeper has joined Stockport County...

Ross Fitzsimons. Photo: Oliver Atkin

It's fair to say that Ross Fitzsimons' move to Boston United was not the usual way the Pilgrims do business.

After leaving Notts County - via a brief loan spell at Chesterfield - at the end of last season, the keeper was a free agent.

So was his housemate Matt Tootle, who had played alongside Fitzsimons at both clubs.

They were perhaps not expecting to be reunited in a third dressing room when Tootle answered a call from Craig Elliott.

"I live with Matt Tootle so it was off the cuff," he explained about the move in an interview in December.

"The gaffer wanted to sign Toots and he mentioned he was after a goalie, so he's literally come in my room and said 'would you go to Boston?'. I was like 'yeah, 100 per cent'."

One call, two signings is about as slick as it gets, but Elliott had landed himself two vital pieces of the jigsaw.

The December Player of the Month. Photo: Boston United

You could argue that sometimes it's not what you know but who you know. But after 16 performances in goal for Boston, other managers knew more than enough about Fitzsimons.

And that prompted Stockport County boss Simon Rusk to act this week, Fitzsimons moving to the National League promotion chasers for an undisclosed fee.

While frustrating for United to lose a goalkeeper who had earned seven clean sheets in those matches, been named the National League North's December Player of the Month and been the shootout hero as the Pilgrims beat AFC Fylde on penalties in the FA Trophy, accepting the Hatters' money was a no-brainer.

It was either accept the offer and earn a few quid at a time when income is lean at best, or risk losing him for nothing when his contract expired this summer.

Friends reunited! Tootle and Fitzsimons celebrate a win at Farsley. Photo: Oliver Atkin

The move also makes sense for the player. Training and aiming to break into a side pushing for the Football League beats being inactive after step two was declared null and void.

With Fitzsimons' Hatters deal running to the end of the season it may be to soon to rule out a return.

But if things go well for the keeper then offers to play at a higher level, and a return to full-time football, would surely be too good to turn down.

Fitzsimons' spell at the Jakemans Community Stadium may have been short and sweet - indeed with the season declared null and void you could argue he only actually made three competitive appearances, in the FA Cup and FA Trophy - but he should be remembered fondly by fans, even if they never got to watch him in the flesh.

Fitzsimons spoke of his bizarre signing in December. Photo: Oliver Atkin

A reliable shot stopper with the tendency to pull off eyecatching saves and rush off his line quicker than you can say Max Stryjek, two exceptional performances against Chester and away at Darlington, the latter a game which was abandoned with minutes remaining, stick in the mind - not only because of the calibre of saves but also because of the regularity.

And then there was that shootout against Fylde. A rare Boston victory from spotkicks, made all the sweeter by those two saves.

Fitzsimons' swift departure could leave United wondering what could have been. A thought they've had far too many times already over the past 12 months.

And with Elliott desperate to keep the majority of his squad together, the Pilgrims must hope that Fitzsimons' departure is a one-off and not the start of something.

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