York Street, home of Boston United
The coming season is set to be Boston United’s last at York Street – and manager Craig Elliott wants to bow out with a bang.
The Pilgrims have played at their current home since 1933, but plan to move to a new Community Stadium as part of a major housing and retail development off the A16 in Wyberton in a year’s time.
It promises to be an emotional campaign for all those Boston fans who have only ever known York Street as their club’s home.
“There’s an expectation and a lot of excitement this year,” said Elliott, who guided the Pilgrims to 11th place in National League North last term.
“It’s an historic stadium and it’s the last season, so we want to make it a successful one and do the supporters proud. There are a lot of great people at the club and we will do our best for them.”
As for their new home, construction work is due to begin in early September with the aim of being in situ next August.
“It’s a great time to be involved at Boston whether you are a manager, director or supporter,” said Elliott. “Everyone is excited about the new stadium and we have a lot to look forward to, but we have to do the coming season justice first.”
To do that, Boston need to improve on last term, when they finished seven points off the play-off places. Ten home defeats didn’t do their cause any favours – only four clubs lost more games on home soil – and Elliott is keen to address that.
“Our away record was good, we beat some big teams, but we couldn’t get it going at home,” admitted Elliott.
“Confidence drained from us and the fans were frustrated. If you’re going to be successful, your home form needs to be strong.”
Former Glasshoughton Welfare, Ossett Town and Shaw Lane manager Elliott, appointed by the Pilgrims in November 2017, is hoping his, up to now, nine new captures can help turn their fortunes around.
The 41-year-old has snapped up goalkeeper Peter Crook, 25, (Hyde), defenders Luke Shiels, 29, (Alfreton), Alex Whittle, 26, (Warrington) and Simon Ainge, 31, (season-long loan from Darlington), midfielders Tom Platt, 25, (Alfreton) and George Green, 23, (Chester) and strikers Dominic Knowles, 27, (Harrogate), Jordan Thewlis, 26, (Harrogate) and Tom Clare, 19, (Bradford City).
The York Street faithful will be praying the new forward players can give their side extra firepower in the coming campaign. Elliott is confident they will.
“We aren’t a million miles off, but the big thing we didn’t have last season was people proven in the league,” said Elliott.
“Dominic and Jordan were high on our list – they have both got promoted from this league, scored goals and are at a good age.”
All in all, Elliott is happy with his summer shopping and feeling positive about how the new season is shaping up.
“We tried to get our work done early with a lot of the signings,” he said. “We missed out on one or two, but I’m more than happy with what we’ve got.
“We’ve learned a lot from last year. We had an unsettled pre-season then and things took longer. The proof will be in the games – it’s all about results – but I feel a lot calmer and more optimistic compared to last year.”
But one thing doesn’t change – the strength of National League North.
“It’s one of the toughest divisions in Non-League,” said Elliott, who previously guided Shaw Lane to three promotions in four seasons.
“There are so many teams that have a chance of promotion – you could probably go to 13 or 14 this year. I’m under no illusions how tough it will be and it’s important we get off to a good start, but it’s exciting as well. There are no rest periods, you have to be at it week in, week out.”
And after all his previous success at the now defunct Shaw Lane, Elliott won’t settle for being an also-ran.
“Every season I have set my stall out to win leagues,” he added. “That’s what you are involved in football for and I’m no different.
“It’s important to get into that promotion mix, you want that excitement. I loved those promotions at Shaw Lane and I want to do well.”
By John Lyons