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2000-2010: The Naughties
>> Features >> The Naughties >> Johnny Chapman's highlights

Johnny Chapman is our resident Northern expert, the man to whom we turn when we need obscure facts on the likes of North Ferriby United, Clitheroe or dry stone walling holidays.

Anyway, here are Johnny's highlights from the last decade....

Player of the Decade
There are many players who I didn’t consider as I think of them as mainly being from the 90s (e.g. Steve Charles, Bazza) or their Pilgrims careers were brief cameos (Andy Kirk, Albert Jarrett, David Noble, Kieran Leabon). Then there were some great professionals at the end of their careers (Costello, Redfearn) who again weren’t with us long enough to a player of a Decade. We always seemed to play better with Simon Rusk in the team but my (and it seems everybody else’s) Player of the Decade is Paul Ellender.

Clearly he was with Boston in more of the Naughties years than anyone else but it’s more than that. He played all over the pitch, always gave his best and when he returned at the end of the 08-09 season, I believe he helped us stay up not because he was necessarily a better player than those he replaced, more that he had a much better attitude.

The Walsall away game in the League relegation season particularly stands out. We battled out a 1-1 with barely a Boston attack to be seen and Ellender, key to holding the home side at bay, spent five minutes off the pitch having a head wound bandaged before sprinting back onto the pitch, apparently just as he was about to be subbed. Later, as convention dictates (I understand FCUM are honourable exceptions here), the Man of the Match was awarded to some Walsall player, only to be greeted by an instant chorus of “Ellender, Ellender, Ellender” from the away support. Folk have never stopped talking about Terry Butcher’s blood, but I remember Ellie’s too.

Game of the Decade
Two options here. It was at Southport on Easter Monday 2002 that I actually began to believe Boston might get promoted to the Football League. The final five minutes of that game are not the most exciting of my life, but it probably are the most exciting that I have commentary of on my Ipod. After that own goal anything was possible.

But for me the game of the decade was in May 2007 at Wrexham. I wasn’t worried about it being our last game in the League, just about it being our last game period. Unlike other Pilgrims I didn’t have a second team lined up to follow if we went bust so I got up at some unearthly hour of the morning (I was playing in the fans tournament) genuinely thinking it might be the last game of club football I cared about in a long while.

I remember the friendliness of the Wrexham fans both before and after the game (the only time an opposition fan has insisted on buying the round because we were Boston fans), I remember twice losing at penalties in the fans tournament (we were the English team, as someone pointed out), of course I remember the hope at half time (though I suspect we’d have got relegated somehow anyway), but most of all I remember the non-stop singing from entering the ground at 2.45 to leaving it about three hours later. I was dreading having to give football supporting up. Thanks to Newton and Kempster I won’t have to.

Worst Moment of the Decade
The deaths of Ernie Cooksey and Paul Shirtliff.

Goal of the Decade
Jamie Clarke’s away at Peterborough in 2005-6. A cracking goal which presaged staying in that pub on the barge much later than planned, but the main reason I picked it was because I was then able last year to emphasise to a mate’s new Posh-supporting boyfriend that we had the better record against them in the Football League.

Bizarre Away Trip of the Decade
Contenders include Clitheroe because of the hog roasting untended outside the pub, Scarborough and Durham for getting to the ground to discover it was off, Brighton for hearing Attila the Stockbroker do the tannoy announcements and Grimsby in 2006-7 because we looked brilliant in the first half, little realising that was the best we’d play all season.

But the magic envelope reveals the winner to be Macclesfield in 2003-4. Not just because it was so hot that I was sweating just standing on the terraces, but mainly because the bloke I vaguely recognised in the pub beforehand turned out to be the same one who had served me pints in Sheffield the night before. For months afterwards when I was in his pub, he’d talk to me about Macclesfield, not realising it was not somewhere I made frequent beer trips, but rather one I only visited once a year (though twice that season since we got them in the Cup).

Tinpot Dump of the Decade
The Reynolds Arena. If you’re going to spend all that money on the ground then why not allow enough leg room for people over 5 foot ten not to leave the stadium with sore knees?

Burger of the Decade
Sorry I haven’t eaten meat for years and I don’t reckon veggie burgers have reached football grounds yet. So I’m picking the hippy burger from Bungalows and Bears in Sheffield. I probably walked past the bar on the way to the Blades game.

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