Staying down... but not out! Boston United fans sensing exciting times despite promotion final defeat

Pilgrims dreams ended, but late rally leaves club in rude health, says Duncan Browne
United fans were in full voice at York. Photo: Oliver AtkinUnited fans were in full voice at York. Photo: Oliver Atkin
United fans were in full voice at York. Photo: Oliver Atkin

There will be a few sore heads in Boston and York this morning.

The hangovers will definitely be easier to accept up north where the Minstermen's faithful partied late into the night after their club won promotion to the National League.

But for the fans of United, whose sorrows were drowned on the way back down the A1 following that 2-0 defeat, there's still reason to spring out of bed when the mood finally takes you.

Yes, the Pilgrims were beaten. And fairly.

Yes, those dreams have gone again quicker than you can say Adam Roscoe.

Yes, it's almost time for the 342nd consecutive season in that same league (Boston have been there so long it's had about seven different names).

But, the doom and gloom of that promotion final defeat to Altrincham two years ago doesn't seem to be - or need to be - there.

That one hurt. That one was, still is, hard to shrug off.

Perhaps it was the manner of that defeat or the fact Boston felt like the favourites that day.

But more likely it was because that final was played behind closed doors.

It was the time of Covid, a period on uncertainty when nobody knew what life had in store for them next.

Football, albeit watched via livestreams, was one of the few pleasures available.

Of course, it didn't feel like that there was much else going on in the planet for the 800-plus Pilgrims in the LNER Community Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Same for the 500 watching on the big screen back at the Jakemans Community Stadium, and those logging on to the livestream across the globe.

But as the full time whistle blew, and the boys in blue headed to the away end to applaud their travelling support, the sea of amber sung defiantly.

Still down. But not out.

That defeat to Altrincham felt like the end. A return to restrictions and - who knew back then? - a potential summer of being locked away.

Defeat to York feels like the beginning. Hope.

It would have been hard to predict as Gloucester City scored that stoppage time leveller at the JCS at the start of the month, but the feelgood factor is back at Boston United.

Victory at Farsley Celtic saw United nick back their top seven spot on the final day, the away fans dancing with delight alongside the players when news of Kettering Town's 1-1 draw at Curzon Ashton filtered through.

Those scenes were magnified days later as Alex Penny nodded into his own net and United did the unthinkable at Kidderminster Harriers.

Jake Wright jnr's aeroplane. Marcus Dewhurt's hands to the ears. Paul Green cuddling anyone he could get his hands on. Not even roadworks on the M42 could kill that mood... even after midnight.

Fast forward three days and Boston did it again at Fylde - they never beat Fylde.

But more than 600 followed the signs to Blackpool, refused to get off the ******* pitch and joined in that thunderclap.

United couldn't make it four away wins in a row at York, suffering a 2-0 defeat.

But this club is now preparing for next season with high hopes and expectations.

The mood around the place couldn't be further than where it would have been had the Pilgrims ended the campaign eighth.

Boston missed out on the prize but at least they had the chance to give it a shot. Not having these moments would have set up a summer of discontent.

For Pilgrims fans the buzz is back. The togetherness is back.

And as Paul Cox begins to build his first Boston side in his image, he knows he is doing so with the backing of his chairman and supporters.

Last time United channeled their emotions following a play-off defeat they came back stronger, only for what had potential to be a fantastic season taken away from them.

Next year, who knows, may be different.

Bizarrely, defeat to York doesn't feel like another Altrincham. Weirdly, it feels more like Carshalton.

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