The global game! A Boston United fan will fly in from Russia for Monday's FA Cup tie against Rochdale, while Pilgrims supporters are also tuning in across the pond

Boston United's FA Cup clash with Rochdale will have a truly global appeal. We spoke to one fan who will be flying in from Russia for the match, and another supporter ready to watch from his armchair in the USA...
James and his family during a visit to York Street.James and his family during a visit to York Street.
James and his family during a visit to York Street.

Like A Supporter In Moscow

James Watson will be flying in from his home in Moscow to cheer on Boston United in Monday's FA Cup clash against Rochdale, admitting the tie is 'too good a game to miss'.

The Christmas break will begin early for the 50-year-old Pilgrims fan, whose flight from Russia lands on the day of the match.

James and his family live in Moscow.James and his family live in Moscow.
James and his family live in Moscow.

"This was just too good a game to miss, one of the last big matches at our great old stadium," said James.

"We always come back to Lincolnshire at Christmas as a family, and my wife Regina and our kids were kind enough to let me come back a bit earlier this year.

"They’ll join me next Sunday and we’ll celebrate Christmas together with my sisters and their children."

League One Rochdale may be favourites to earn their place in round three and land a plum home tie against Newcastle United, but is James travelling in hope or expectation?

Steffen Cook can't make the game... but he'll be tuning in from California.Steffen Cook can't make the game... but he'll be tuning in from California.
Steffen Cook can't make the game... but he'll be tuning in from California.

"In expectation of an amazing evening which will last long in the memory," he said.

"In hope of a small miracle and progress into the next round.

"Either way, like lots of other fans, I’m very grateful to Messrs Newton and Kempster that we still have a club to support and to Craig Elliott for doing such a fantastic job with the team."

It was the 1984-1985 season when James, who grew up in Hameringham and attended Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School in Horncastle, caught the bug, his first season as a fan seeing United make it to the FA trophy final at Wembley.

In the early 1990s he, together with pal Richard Smith, author of United fanzine From Behind Your Fences, organised the first supporters’ coaches to away league games at a time when the club just ran transport to cup ties.

Times have changed dramatically and James admits that, in this modern internet era of Twitter updates and post-match videos, supporting the Pilgrims from 3,500 miles away is a lot easier than getting updates from the old Club Call line.

"I remember in the old days when you needed to call an overpriced phone line and wait for ages just to find the result of the match," added James who first visited Moscow as a language student in 1993 and found the place 'fascinating'.

Two years later he decided to look for work in Russia ‘for a couple of years’, and has remained for the past 25 years.

"My favourite remote memory was probably in 2002 when I was sitting at work following the Southport versus Boston match on the internet feed we had then, a match we had to win to stay in the title race.

"At 5.10pm it still said 2-1 to Southport and I assumed we’d lost, then the screen suddenly updated to show that Daryl Clare had scored two late goals (Clare's second goal was later given as a Shaune Teale own goal but was initially given to Clare on the internet and Teletext).

"A good day at the office, you could say. Another fun episode was hunting down an internet cafe in the Russian countryside to listen to commentary on the Bradford Park Avenue play-off final in 2010."

James tends to get his live United fixes at Christmas and Easter, when back visiting family and friends in England, although a business trip allowed him to make it to this season's first-round tie at Carshalton.

"I’ll also be able to catch a game or two in February, not to mention three or four over Christmas," he continued.

"So this is definitely a good year! And of course I’ll be back for the last games at York Street at the end of the season."

So what do his colleagues and friends in Russia make of his Pilgrims passion?

"Those that are football fans understand, I think," James said.

"In Russia, relations, friends and colleagues all know I support Boston and now ask regularly how we’re doing.

"They’ve gradually become aware this autumn that something unusual is happening as we progress through each round of the cup."

James is now hoping to return to Moscow with stories of giant killing, but first he has to get to York Street.

"Actually, the flight only gets in at noon on the day of the match, so I’m trusting there’ll be no significant delays," he added.

Califonia Love For The Pilgrims

After more than eight years since watching Boston United live, Pilgrims fan Steffen Cook has been making the most of his club's FA Cup run being broadcast on TV in the United States.

He was one many ex-pat Pilgrims who caught the goalless draw at Rochdale on the box as it was screened live on the ESPN network.

And once again, this Monday morning, he'll be tuning in for the replay.

"On Monday morning - yeah, morning! - I'll be glued to ESPN+, as they'll be showing the FA Cup game at 11.30 am," he said.

"It's still odd watching footy in Long Beach, California, especially when 3pm kick offs are actually 7am for me.

"Still, at least it's not a lunchtime game - those tend to be around the stupid o'clock time.

"Did you know that there's a 4am? An obscene hour to watch the footy. I'm sure you'd agree or at least sympathise."

After swapping life by the Haven to one by the pacific Ocean, Steffen hasn't quite managed to replicate those regular Saturday footie fixes.

"The last time I saw a full Boston United game was a 2-1 win at home against Workington on October 22, 2011," he added.

"If memory serves right, I think it was a double over them that season in a game that saw one of those trademark Jason Lee headers.

"In a blur of activity that followed that game, I found myself living in America not long after and with that, my visits to York Street came to an abrupt end.

"No more quick ones in The Coach & Horses beforehand, and certainly no more silly trebles and other accers in Coral or Ladbrokes before the game, either.

"My catching up on results and action come by way of Twitter and whatever clips I can find on Youtube these days.

"Good luck to The Pilgrims on Monday and know that under the shade of some swaying palm trees in SoCal, it'll forever be Boston."