English Football League
The English Football League is a league competition featuring professional football clubs from England and Wales. Founded in 1888 as the Football League, the league is the oldest such competition in world football, it was the top-level football league in England from its foundation until 1992, when the top 22 clubs split away to form the Premier League. The three leagues below the Premier League are known as the Championship, League One and League Two, with 24 clubs in each division. Promotion and relegation between these divisions is a central feature of the League and is further extended to allow the top Championship clubs to exchange places with the lowest-placed clubs in the Premier League, the bottom clubs of League Two to switch with the top clubs of the National League, thus integrating the League into the English football league system. Although a competition for English clubs, clubs from Wales – Swansea City and Newport County – take part, while in the past Cardiff City, Merthyr Town and Aberdare Athletic have been members.
The Football League was associated with a title sponsor between 1983 and 2016. As this sponsor changed over the years the league too has been known by various names. Starting with the 2016–17 season, the league has moved away from having a title sponsor, rebranding itself as the English Football League, in much the same way the Premier League is known as the "EPL" internationally; the English Football League is the name of the governing body of the league competition, this body organises two knock-out cup competitions, the EFL Cup and the EFL Trophy. The operations centre of the Football League is in Preston, while its commercial office is in London; the commercial office was based in Lytham St Annes, after its original spell in Preston. The Football League consists of 70 professional association football clubs in England and 2 in Wales, it runs the oldest professional football league competition in the world. It organises two knockout cup competitions, the EFL Cup and EFL Trophy; the Football League was founded in 1888 by Aston Villa director William McGregor with 12 member clubs.
Steady growth and the addition of more divisions meant. Financial considerations led to a major shake-up in 1992 when, in a step to maximise their revenue, the leading members of the Football League broke away to form their own competition, the FA Premier League, renamed in 2007 as the Premier League; the Football League therefore no longer includes the top 20 clubs who belong to this group, although promotion and relegation between the Football League and the Premier League continues. In total, 136 teams have played in the Football League up to 2013; the EFL's 72 member clubs are grouped into three divisions: the EFL Championship, EFL League One, EFL League Two. Each division has 24 clubs, in any given season a club plays each of the others in the same division twice, once at their home stadium and once at that of their opponents; this makes for a total of 46 games played each season. Clubs gain three points for a win, one for a draw, none for a defeat. At the end of the season, clubs at the top of their division may win promotion to the next higher division, while those at the bottom may be relegated to the next lower one.
At the top end of the competition, three Championship clubs win promotion from the Football League to the Premier League, with the bottom three Premier League clubs taking their places. At the lower end, two League Two clubs lose their Football League status with relegation to the National division of the National League, while two teams from that division join League Two of The Football League in their stead. Promotion and relegation are determined by final league positions, but to sustain interest for more clubs over the length of the season one promotion place from each division is decided according to a playoff between four clubs, which takes place at the end of the season, it is therefore possible for a team finishing sixth in the Championship or League One, or seventh in League Two, to be promoted rather than the clubs finishing above them in the standings. Since the 2004–05 season, penalties have existed for clubs entering financial administration during the season. If a club enters administration before 31 March of any given season, they will be deducted 12 points.
It is required that a club exiting administration agree a Creditor's Voluntary Agreement, pay in full any other footballing creditors. Failure to do either of these will result in a second unlimited points deduction; the other main situation in, a club may lose points is by fielding an improperly registered or otherwise ineligible player. If a club is found to have done this any points earned from any match that player participated in will be deducted; the EFL organises two knock-out cup competitions: the EFL Trophy. The EFL Cup was established in 1960 and is open to all EFL and Premier League
Defender (association football)
In the sport of association football, a defender is an outfield player whose primary role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring goals. There are four types of defenders: centre-back, full-back, wing-back; the centre-back and full-back positions are essential in most modern formations. The sweeper and wing-back roles are more specialised for certain formations. A centre-back defends in the area directly in front of the goal, tries to prevent opposing players centre-forwards, from scoring. Centre-backs accomplish this by blocking shots, intercepting passes, contesting headers and marking forwards to discourage the opposing team from passing to them. With the ball, centre-backs are expected to make long and pinpoint passes to their teammates, or to kick unaimed long balls down the field. For example, a clearance is a long unaimed kick intended to move the ball as far as possible from the defender's goal. Due to the many skills centre-backs are required to possess in the modern game, many successful contemporary central-defensive partnerships have involved pairing a more physical defender with a defender, quicker, more comfortable in possession and capable of playing the ball out from the back.
During normal play, centre-backs are unlikely to score goals. However, when their team takes a corner kick or other set pieces, centre-backs may move forward to the opponents' penalty area. In this case, other defenders or midfielders will temporarily move into the centre-back positions; some centre-backs have been known for their direct free kicks and powerful shots from distance. Brazilian defenders David Luiz and Naldo have been known for using the cannonball free kick method, which relies more on power than placement. In the modern game, most teams employ three centre-backs in front of the goalkeeper; the 4–2–3–1, 4–3–3, 4–4–2 formations all use two centre-backs. There are two main defensive strategies used by centre-backs: the zonal defence, where each centre-back covers a specific area of the pitch; the sweeper is a more versatile centre-back who "sweeps up" the ball if an opponent manages to breach the defensive line. This position is rather more fluid than that of other defenders who man-mark their designated opponents.
Because of this, it is sometimes referred to as libero. Though sweepers may be expected to build counter-attacking moves, as such require better ball control and passing ability than typical centre-backs, their talents are confined to the defensive realm. For example, the catenaccio system of play, used in Italian football in the 1960s, employed a purely defensive sweeper who only "roamed" around the back line; the more modern libero possesses the defensive qualities of the typical libero while being able to expose the opposition during counterattacks. The Fundell-libero has become more popular in recent time with the sweeper transitioning to the most advanced forward in an attack; this variation on the position requires great fitness. While seen in professional football, the position has been extensively used in lower leagues. Modern libero sit behind centre-backs as a sweeper before charging through the team to join in the attack; some sweepers move forward and distribute the ball up-field, while others intercept passes and get the ball off the opposition without needing to hurl themselves into tackles.
If the sweeper does move up the field to distribute the ball, they will need to make a speedy recovery and run back into their position. In modern football, its usage has been restricted, with few clubs in the biggest leagues using the position; the position is most believed to have been pioneered by Franz Beckenbauer, Gaetano Scirea, Elías Figueroa, although they were not the first players to play this position. Earlier proponents included Alexandru Apolzan, Ivano Blason, Velibor Vasović, Ján Popluhár. Other defenders who have been described as sweepers include Bobby Moore, Franco Baresi, Ronald Koeman, Fernando Hierro, Matthias Sammer, Aldair, due to their ball skills and long passing ability. Though it is used in modern football, it remains a respected and demanding position. A recent and successful use of the sweeper was made by Otto Rehhagel, Greece's manager, during UEFA Euro 2004. Rehhagel utilized Traianos Dellas as Greece's sweeper to great success, as Greece became European champions.
Although this position has become obsolete in modern football formations, due to the use of zonal marking and the offside trap, certain players such as Daniele De Rossi:, Leonardo Bonucci, Javi Martínez and David Luiz have played a similar role as a ball-playing central defender in a 3–5–2 or 3–4–3 formation. Some goalkeepers, who are comfortable leaving their goalmouth to intercept and clear through balls, who participate more in play, such as René Higuita, Manuel Neuer, Edwin van der Sar, Fabien Barthez, Hugo Lloris, among others, have been referred to as sweep
Scunthorpe United F.C.
Scunthorpe United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the town of Scunthorpe, England. The team play in the third tier of the English football league system; the team is nicknamed The Iron, has played in a home strip of claret and blue for most of its history. It plays its home games at Glanford Park, having moved from the Old Showground in 1988. Grimsby Town, Hull City, Doncaster Rovers, Lincoln City and York City are its main rivals, although of these clubs only Doncaster Rovers play in the same division as Scunthorpe; the club was formed in 1899, turned professional in 1912 and joined the Football League in 1950. It achieved promotion to Division Two in 1958, where it stayed until 1964, but has spent most of its time as a Football League club in the basement tier; the club has had more success however: it was promoted from the Football League Two in 2005, spent three out of four seasons from 2007 in the Football League Championship. The Iron were relegated to Football League One in 2011.
The club suffered a further blow, being relegated to Football League Two in 2013, however it was fortunate enough to bounce back, winning promotion back to the third tier at the end of the 2013–14 season. In recent years, the club has developed a reputation for developing promising young strikers, having sold Billy Sharp, Martin Paterson and Gary Hooper on for seven-figure sums; the club was considered one of the most financially prudent in English football, being one of only three in the top four divisions to be debt-free. This status has changed after it was announced that a £2 million loan from the outgoing chairman Steve Wharton was on the accounts to help the club maintain some sense of financial stability. Scunthorpe United was the first club in England to build a cantilever stand after their old East stand burnt down in 1959, four years before Sheffield Wednesday constructed its cantilever stand at Hillsborough. Scunthorpe United was formed in 1899. In 1910 they merged with local rivals North Lindsey United to become Scunthorpe & Lindsey United, joined the Midland Football League in 1912.
After an unsuccessful application to join the Football League in 1921, Scunthorpe & Lindsey won the Midland League in 1926–27 and in 1938–39. When the 1939–40 season came to an abrupt end, due to the outbreak of the Second World War, Scunthorpe & Lindsey finished as runners-up in the second emergency competition, losing 3–2 to Peterborough United in an unofficial play-off game. After the end of the war, in 1945, Scunthorpe & Lindsey United would re-apply to join the Football League at every opportunity; the club finished as runners-up in the Midland League in 1947–48, in 1950 was accepted into the Football League, ahead of Workington and Wigan Athletic when the league structure was expanded. The club's first game in Football League Division Three North was against fellow new entrants Shrewsbury Town. After an unremarkable few years in the Football League, which included the club's first third and fourth round FA Cup ties, the "& Lindsey" was dropped from the club's name in 1958. In 1958 Scunthorpe United won promotion to Football League Division Two as champions of the old Division Three under the guidance of manager Ron Suart.
The Iron began a steady rise through the Second Division over the next four years under a variety of managers, improving its league position each season until reaching fourth place at the close of the 1961–1962 season, the club's highest league position to date. This was despite the sale of its leading marksman Barrie Thomas to Newcastle United for a reported £40,000; the year 1962 proved to be a turning point in the fortunes of the club, as only two years it finished the season at the bottom of the Second Division, being relegated back to the now un-regionalised Football League Division Three. At the same time Scunthorpe United stalwart Jack Brownsword played his last game for the Iron after 597 Football League appearances for the club, Freddie Goodwin replaced Dick Duckworth as the club's manager. After relegation from Division Two, the Iron spent the next four years bouncing around in the Third Division. Freddie Goodwin left the club during the 1967–68 season, however his replacement Ron Ashman was unable to save the club from relegation to Division Four at the end of the season.
A slight resurgence occurred in the early 70s, with the Iron first defeating top-flight Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup during January 1970, gaining promotion back to the Third Division in 1972. It was during this short period that a young Kevin Keegan was discovered and developed by Ashman before being sold to Liverpool in 1971 for £35,000, having racked up 124 appearances and 18 goals for Scunthorpe; the Iron were unable to cement a place in the Third Division, relegation back to the Fourth Division followed in 1973. At the same time Ron Ashman departed to manage local rivals Grimsby Town, only to return during 1976; the period between his two tenures saw several management changes and a disastrous league campaign which saw the Iron finish rock bottom of the Football League in 1975. The next five years saw United stagnate in the bottom-half of Division Four, with the club finishing second-bottom at the end of the 1981–82 campaign. Promotion to Division Three was achieved under the guidance of manager John Duncan in 1983, but immediate relegation was to follow under his successor Allan Clarke in 1984, with United entering a further period of stagnation in the middle of the Fourth DIvision table.
In 1988 Scunthorpe United became the first English football club in the modern era to move to a new, purpose-built stad
Rotherham United F.C.
Rotherham United Football Club, nicknamed The Millers, is a professional association football club based in Rotherham, South Yorkshire, England. It competes in the Championship, the second tier of the English football league system, following its promotion from League One in the 2017–18 season. Founded in 1925 as a merger between Rotherham Town and Rotherham County, the club's colours were yellow and black, but evolved into the more traditional red and white. Rotherham United play their home games at New York Stadium, a 12,021 capacity all-seater stadium, having played since its foundation at Millmoor for 101 years. Joining the Football League back in 1925, Rotherham spent the first 25 years of their time in Division Three North, the lowest level of the Football League gaining promotion to Division Two at the end of the 1950–51 season; the Millers featured in the inaugural League Cup final in 1961, won the 1996 Football League Trophy and 1946 Football League North Cup. They achieved two separate back to back promotions in 1999–2001 under Ronnie Moore and 2012–2014 under Steve Evans.
The club's roots go back to 1870. George Cook was the trainer around this time. For many years the leading team in the area was Rotherham Town, who spent three seasons in the Football League while Thornhill United were still playing in the Sheffield & Hallamshire League. By the turn of the century, Town had resigned from the Football League and gone out of business. Meanwhile, Thornhill's fortunes were on the rise to the extent that in 1905 they laid claim to being the pre-eminent club in the town and changed their name to Rotherham County. For a period both clubs competed in the Midland League, finishing first and second in 1911–12. Rotherham County became members of the second division of the Football league in 1919 whilst Rotherham Town failed to become elected to the third division northern section the following year. By 1925 County's fortunes had declined and they had to seek re-election to the third division. By this time it had become clear that to have two professional clubs in the town was not sustainable.
Talks had begun in February 1925 and in early May the two clubs merged to form Rotherham United. Days the reformed club was formally re-elected to the Football League under its new name; the red and white was adopted around 1928 after playing in amber and black, but there was no improvement in the club's fortunes: in 1931 they again had to apply for re-election. After the Second World War things looked up; the Millers won the only post-war edition of the Football League Third Division North Cup in 1946 beating Chester 5–4 on aggregate. They finished as runners-up three time in succession between 1947 and 1949 and were champions of Division Three in 1951. Rotherham reached their highest league position of third in the Football League Second Division in 1955, when only goal average denied them a place in the top flight after they finished level on points with champions Birmingham City and runners-up Luton Town. During that season they had notable results including a 6–1 win over Liverpool. In 1961 the Millers beat Aston Villa 2–0 at Millmoor in the inaugural League Cup final first leg.
The second leg was played the season after due to Villa having a'Congested Fixture List'. The club held on to its place in Division Two until 1968 and went into a decline that took them down to Division Four in 1973. In 1975 they were promoted back to the Third Division finishing in the 3rd promotion spot in the Fourth Division; the Millers won the Division Three title in the 1980-81 season, missed out on a second consecutive promotion by four points, finishing seventh In the second tier 1981-82. They have not finished this high since; this season saw Rotherham accomplish what supporters consider their greatest league double, beating Chelsea 4-1 away at Stamford Bridge and 6-0 at home. During the 1990s Rotherham were promoted and relegated between the Football League's lowest two divisions and they slipped into the Fourth Division in 1991, just two years after being promoted, but reclaimed their status in the third tier by finishing third in the Fourth Division in 1992, they survived at this level for five years, never looking like promotion contenders, before being relegated in 1997.
In 1996 Rotherham United made their first trip to Wembley, beating Shrewsbury 2–1 to win the Football League Trophy, with two goals from Nigel Jemson giving Rotherham the win, with over 20,000 Rotherham United fans following them. In 1997, just after relegation to Division Three, Ronnie Moore took charge of Rotherham United, his first season ended in a mid-table finish and his second in a play-off semi-final defeat on penalties to Leyton Orient. In 1999–2000 as Rotherham finished as Division Three runners-up and gained promotion to Division Two, where they finished runners-up and won a second successive promotion. Rotherham managed to remain in Division One for four seasons, after relegation to League One in 2005, Mick Harford took over as the Millers' manager, but was sacked after a run of 17 games without a win. Harford was replaced by Alan Knill. Early in 2006 it was announced that the club faced an uncertain future unless a funding gap in the region of £140,000 per month could be plugged.
An eleventh-hour intervention by a consortium of local businessmen kept them in business. The final match of the 2005–06 season, home to Milton Keynes Dons, was a winner-take-all relegation showdown where a scorele
Cambridge United F.C.
Cambridge United Football Club is a professional association football club based in the city of Cambridge, England. The team compete in the fourth tier of the English football league system; the club is based at the Abbey Stadium on Newmarket Road 1.86 miles east of Cambridge city centre. The stadium has a capacity of 8,127, made up of seated areas; the club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, took the name Cambridge United in 1951. They played in local amateur leagues before joining the Southern League after finishing as runners-up of the Eastern Counties League in 1957–58. Under Bill Leivers's stewardship they were crowned Southern League Premier Division champions in 1968–69 and 1969–70, which helped to secure their election into the Football League in 1970, they won promotion out of the Fourth Division in 1972–73, but suffered relegation. They won the Fourth Division title in 1976–77, secured promotion out of the Third Division the following season, they remained in the Second Division for six seasons.
Manager John Beck led United to promotion out of the Fourth Division via play-offs in 1990 and the Third Division title in 1990–91, with the club reaching the Second Division play-offs the following season. Two relegations in three years left Cambridge back in the fourth tier, before promotion was secured at the end of the 1998–99 campaign, they entered the Conference in 2005 after two relegations in four seasons, where they remained for nine seasons. They finished as runners-up of the Conference three times, but were beaten in the play-off finals in 2008 and 2009, before securing promotion after winning the 2014 play-off final. Although the club has traditionally worn amber and black at home, it has experimented with a number of designs of shirts including plain amber with black trim and black squares, stripes and, amber with a black sash; the club had close links with Cambridge Regional College, a team that operated as a de facto reserve team between 2006 and 2014. The Cambridge United Community Trust perform a lot of charity work in the local community.
The club was founded in 1912 as Abbey United, named after the Abbey district of Cambridge. A club called Cambridge United existed in Cambridge from 1909, but it was not linked to the club that exists today; the club played in local amateur leagues for many of its early years, moving from ground to ground around Cambridge before settling at the Abbey Stadium. In 1949 the club turned professional, changed its name to Cambridge United in 1951, they played in the Eastern Counties League until finishing as runners-up in 1957–58, which saw them promoted to the Southern League. Three years Cambridge United reached the Premier Division of the Southern League. After election to the Football League in 1970, to replace Bradford, the club was promoted from the Fourth Division after three seasons, but went straight back down. Following the appointment of Ron Atkinson as manager, Cambridge won successive promotions which took them into the Second Division in 1978 – a mere eight years after joining the Football League.
Atkinson had gone to West Bromwich Albion, a First Division club, in January 1978, was succeeded by John Docherty, who oversaw the second promotion. Cambridge peaked at eighth place in the Second Division in 1980. However, a terrible season in 1983–84 was followed by a further relegation in 1984–85; these successive relegations, which had a negative affect on the club's attendances as well as its finances, placed Cambridge back in the Fourth Division, the lowest professional league in English football at the time. They had to apply for re-election in their first season back in the Fourth Division, promotion would not be achieved for another four years; the early 1990s was the U's most successful period. Soon after the appointment of new manager John Beck, the club won the first appearance as a professional club at Wembley Stadium, the Fourth Division playoff final in May 1990, which secured promotion to the Third Division – the club's first promotion for 12 years. Dion Dublin scored the only goal in a game against Chesterfield.
Under Beck, United gained promotion from the Fourth Division and had reached the FA Cup quarter finals in 1990, reached them again a year and winning the Third Division in 1991. United reached the play-offs in 1992, after finishing 5th in the Second Division, but failed in their bid to become founder members of the Premier League; this was the club's highest final league placing to date. The following season the club were relegated from the new First Division. Further relegation followed two seasons later. United returned to Division Two but were relegated in 2002 despite a successful run in the Football League Trophy which saw them reach the final which they lost 1–4 to Blackpool at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. In 2005, after 35 years in the Football League, Cambridge United were relegated into the Football Conference; this brought with it the club filed for administration on 29 April. On 22 July 2005 the club came out of administration with a deal being struck with HM Revenue and Customs at the eleventh hour after the intervention of sports minister Richard Caborn.
Cambridge had sold their Abbey Stadium home earlier in the season for £1.9 million to keep the club afloat. On the eve of the 2006–07 season, it was announced that former Norwich City striker Lee Power would be the club's new chairman taking over from Brian Attmore's
Oxford United F.C.
Oxford United Football Club is a professional football club based in the city of Oxford, England. The team plays in the third tier of English football; the chairman is Sumrith Thanakarnjanasuth, the manager is Karl Robinson and the team captain is John Mousinho. Founded in 1893 as Headington United, Oxford United adopted its current name in 1960, it joined the Football League in 1962 after winning the Southern Football League, reaching the Second Division in 1968. After relegation in 1976, between 1984 and 1986 the club earned successive promotions into the First Division, won the League Cup in 1986. However, Oxford was unable thereby to enter the 1987 UEFA Cup because of the UEFA ban on English clubs in European competitions. Relegation from the top flight in 1988 began an 18-year decline which saw the club relegated to the Conference in 2006, becoming the first winners of a major trophy to be relegated from the Football League. After four seasons, Oxford returned to League Two in 2010 via the playoffs, six seasons achieved promotion to League One, after finishing 2nd in League Two in 2016.
Ron Atkinson holds the club record for the most overall appearances with 560, John Shuker holds the record for the most appearances in the Football League with 478 and Ron's late brother Graham Atkinson holds the record for the most goals scored with 107. In total, nineteen players have made international appearances while playing for the club. United's home ground is the Kassam Stadium in Oxford and has a capacity of 12,500. United moved to the stadium in 2001 after leaving their home for 76 years. Swindon Town is the club's main rival. Oxford United were formed as Headington in 1893, adding the suffix United in 1911 after merging with Headington Quarry; the club was founded by Rev. John Scott-Tucker, the vicar at Saint Andrew's Church in Headington, a local doctor named Robert Hitchings. A football team was a way for the cricketers of Headington Cricket Club to maintain their fitness during the winter break; the first football match played was against Cowley Barracks. Headington had no regular home until 1913, when they were able to purchase Wootten's Field on London Road, but this was redeveloped in 1920, forcing the club to move.
A permanent home was found in 1925. The facility was used as a cricket pitch in the summer, a football pitch in the winter. In 1899, six years after their formation, Headington United joined the Oxfordshire District League Second Division, where they competed until the outbreak of the First World War. In 1921, the club was admitted into the Oxon Senior League; the first season included a 9–0 victory, with eight of those goals coming from P. Drewitt; this remains a record for the highest number of goals scored by an Oxford player in a first-team match. At this time a small rivalry existed with Cowley F. C. who were based a few miles south of Headington. During a league game on May Day, the referee gave two penalties to Cowley; the first FA Cup tie played was in 1931, against Hounslow F. C. in the Preliminary Round, ending in an 8–2 defeat for Headington. United spent two seasons in the Spartan League in 1947 and 1948, finishing fifth and fourth respectively, it was around this time that the cricket team left the Manor and moved to new premises near Cowley Barracks.
A move into professional football was first considered during the 1948–49 season. Vic Couling, the president at the time, had applied for Headington to become a member of a new Second Division in the Southern League. Other teams that applied included Kettering Town and future league side Cambridge United. Although the plans were postponed, the First Division was going to be expanded by two clubs, it was discovered that Llanelli had just one vote fewer than Headington. Oxford played its first season in the Southern League in 1949, the same year they turned professional. Former First Division forward Harry Thompson was hired as manager. In 1950, Headington United became the first professional club in Britain to install floodlights, used them on 18 December against Banbury Spencer, they played in orange and blue shirts, but changed to yellow home shirts for the 1957–58 season. The reason for the change is unknown. In 1960, Headington United was renamed to give the club a higher profile. Two years in 1962, the club won the Southern League title for the second successive season and was elected to the Football League Fourth Division, occupying the vacant place left by bankrupt Accrington Stanley.
Two successive eighteenth-place finishes followed, before promotion to the Third Division was achieved in 1965. A year before the promotion, Oxford became the first Fourth Division club to reach the sixth round of the FA Cup, but have not progressed that far in the competition since. Oxford won the Third Division title in 1967–68, their sixth season as a league club, but after eight years of relative stability the club was relegated from the Second Division in 1975–76. In 1982, as a Third Division side, Oxford United faced closure because of the club's inability to service the debts owed to Barclays Bank, but were rescued when businessman Robert Maxwell took over the club. In April 1983, Maxwell proposed merging United with neighbours Reading, to form a new club called the Thames Valley Royals, to play at Didcot. Jim Smith would have been assisted by Reading boss Maurice Evans; the merger was called off as a result of fans of both clubs protesting against the decision. Furthermore, the Reading chairman st
Boston United F.C.
Boston United Football Club is an English football club based in Boston, Lincolnshire. The club participates in the sixth tier of English football; the club is known as'the Pilgrims' in reference to the Pilgrim Fathers, who left England and sailed to North America and founded Boston, Massachusetts. The club's crest, the pilgrim fathers' ship'The Mayflower', is a reference to them; the club's traditional colours are black. Boston's neighbours include Scunthorpe United and Grimsby Town; the club is one of only 12 in the country to run a Centre of Excellence, provides a Study Support Centre and is the basis of the'Boston United Football in the Community Scheme'. Boston United were members of the Football League from 2002 until 2007; the club was founded in 1933. Their first game was a 3–1 defeat at home to Grimsby Reserves on 26 August 1933, when a crowd of 1,544 watched Boston's no.7, score United's first goal. They had a moderate amount of success in various leagues, including the Midland League and Southern League.
The club's FA cup run of 1955–56 included a 6–1 victory at Derby County playing in Third Division North, with Geoff Hazledine scoring a hat-trick. This was a record away win by a non-league team against League opponents in the FA Cup; this set up a Third Round match against Tottenham Hotspur of the Football League First Division at White Hart Lane on 7 January 1956. The match against Tottenham Hotspur was played in front of a crowd of 46,185; the Pilgrims lost 4 -- 0. Over 10,000 Boston supporters attended the game. A number of special train services from Boston to King's Cross were set up for the day, they were founder members of the Northern Premier League in 1968, of which they were champions four times, of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. However, their Northern Premier League title wins were not enough to gain them election to the Football League, when they won the title in 1978 they missed out on league status in favour of runners-up Wigan Athletic, who took the Football League place held by Southport.
In 1985 Boston United went to Wembley for the first and only time in their history for the FA Trophy Final of the 1984–85 season, after Bob Lee scored a winning last minute goal in the 2nd leg of the semi-final against Altrincham at York Street to put the Pilgrims through. Boston lost 2 -- 1 to Wealdstone with Chris Cook scoring United's only goal. Boston United finished third in the Conference in 1988–89, but were unable to build on this and were relegated to the NPL in 1993, they were transferred to the Southern League, winning the title in 2000, went professional in 2001. In their first season as a professional club, Boston won the Conference and were promoted to the Football League. However, in the wake of their promotion, Boston's manager, Steve Evans, former chairman, Pat Malkinson, were charged with breaking the Football Association's rules over the registration of players. Both men received bans from the FA, the club were fined and docked four points from their first season in the League.
This angered some the Conference runners up Dagenham & Redbridge, who believed that any points deduction should have applied to the previous season, which would have meant Dagenham being promoted instead. After their promotion to the Football League, Boston never looked like challenging for promotion to the third tier of the league and most of their time from 2002 was spent in mid-table, with occasional flirts with relegation and the play-offs. In May 2007 Boston were relegated from Football League Two on the last day of the season. Steve Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor on 27 May resigned from the club, two days joined Crawley Town; because of the relegation Boston were scheduled to play the 2007–08 season in the Conference National but this position was placed in doubt after the club's chairman Jim Rodwell entered Boston into a Company Voluntary Arrangement late in their last game so that 10 points would be deducted in the 2006–07 season instead of the 2007–08 season. Although this meant that Boston started the 2007–08 season without a points penalty FA rules dictated that they be demoted 2 divisions as a result of HM Revenue & Customs placing a restriction into the CVA of Boston not being allowed to pay football creditors 100% of what they were owed.
They therefore played the 2007–08 season in the Conference North division, two steps below the Football League. This would be United's first season under the new ownership of David Newton and Neil Kempster, who took control of the club over from ex-Chairman Jim Rodwell. Despite finishing the 2007–08 campaign in 10th place under the guidance of Tommy Taylor, United were still in administration by the 2nd Saturday of May in 2008; this meant they were relegated again to the Northern Premier League Premier Division for the 2008–09 season. Despite coming out of administration just before the start of the new season anyway, Boston United failed to have this decision overturned. Another result of this was that they would have to enter the FA Cup in the 1st qualifying round, something which they had not done for many years, they reached the final of the Lincs Senior Shield but were swept aside by Stamford 4–1,and finished the league campaign in 16th position. A much more favourable campaign the following season saw The Pilgrims finish 3rd in the league where they won the play-offs, beating Bradford Park Avenue in the final thanks to an Anthony Church extra time winner to earn promotion back to the Conference North.
Joint managers Rob Scott and Paul Hurst resigned from the club in 2011 and wer