Football is a game of emotion and passion, and the FA Cup has long been one of the most popular competitions in England. For many, it’s also a chance to get together with friends and share their love for football. Boston United FC was founded in 1885 and made it into the second round of the FA Cup 50 years ago.
The professor jonathan van-tam wife is a professor of sport and leisure studies at the University of Salford. He has been following Boston United FC since they were founded in 1885.
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam, Deputy Chief Medical Officer and a Boston United supporter, proudly wearing his Pilgrims tie at a Downing Street briefing in May 2024.
“I’m extremely pleased to be a supporter of Boston United. I’m always glad to assist put the Pilgrims on the map in any manner I can. It means a great deal to me “Prof. Jonathan Van-Tam agrees.
The professor has become a familiar face to millions on television following his appearances at Downing Street coronavirus briefings as England’s deputy chief medical officer.
He loves to relax after a long day at work by watching his favorite Boston United play in the National League North, the English football’s sixth division.
At the Downing Street platform, he wore an amber-and-black club tie while mentioning his favorite team on national television.
“I’m a die-hard Boston United season-ticket holder who is eager for football to return,” he stated during a press conference in May 2024, after the government’s declaration that competitive sport may be performed behind closed doors.
The professor speaks to Sport about his 50-year love affair with his local club, selfies with supporters, and the pleasure of being asked to vaccinate members of his favorite squad as the Pilgrims prepare for Saturday’s FA Cup second qualifying-round game with Corby Town.
“Vaccinating the players was simply a wonderful moment,” he says. “The only problem was that I was wearing scrubs and couldn’t wear my Boston United jersey.”
Prof Jonathan Van-Tam prepares to vaccinate Jordan Burrow of Boston United.
Taking the bike to the games
Prof Van-Tam, 57, was taken to his first match by his grandfather when he was seven years old. The duo would bike three and a half miles to York Street to see the Lincolnshire side compete in the Northern Premier League against Wigan Athletic, Macclesfield Town, and Morecambe.
“Back then, you didn’t secure your bike,” he adds. “You threw it behind one of the stands and slammed it into the ground.”
He was hooked right away.
Jim Kabiaexternal-link, the famous Pilgrims striker, soon became his childhood idol as he grew up. “I just met him. He’d seen me on TV and said, “I can’t believe I’m meeting you,” and I’m standing there telling him the same thing.”
In 1974, the former Boston Grammar School student was part of a club-record 11,000-strong crowd at York Street for Derby County’s FA Cup third-round replay.
The Rams had just been English champions for 18 months when they were held to a 0-0 draw at the Baseball Ground.
Derby would win by the same score four days later, avenging a 6-1 loss to Boston in the FA Cup in 1955, the worst defeat a non-league team has ever inflicted on league opponents.
“We youngsters had to sit on the grass near the touchline since the pitch was so crowded,” recalls the lecturer. “All of the schools were closed since it was an afternoon kick-off. At home, I’ve put the program in a frame.”
Because of his hard hours as a junior doctor, he missed the FA Trophy final loss by Wealdstone in 1985, the club’s sole visit at Wembley in their 88-year existence, but he was at Hayes in 2002 to see Boston promoted to the Football Leagueexternal-link for the first time.
Prof Van-Tam has seen his beloved team come dangerously near to bankruptcy and, in 2004, saw England legend Paul Gascoigne don a Boston jersey.
He continues, “Even at the conclusion of his playing career, Gazza was delivering tiny flashes of brilliance.”
‘In my home, there’s a bit of York Street’
Prof Van-Tam was eager to capture a piece of history when Boston moved to the gleaming new Jakemans Community Stadium in 2024, which has been constructed to Football League standards, after attending hundreds of games at York Street.
He continues, “I had a modest addition constructed on the family house that doubles as our sports bar.” “It includes a small bar and a 65-inch television dedicated to sports.” It’s where I keep all of my autographed Boston United jerseys and match balls.
“What I actually wanted was a York Street turnstile at the entryway that you could click through to go to the sport.”
“However, they weren’t for sale, and certain members of the family were adamantly opposed to the idea in any event.”
“However, at a charity auction, I was able to get a Sports Bar sign from outside the stadium. That is currently displayed over the television at my sports bar. In my home, there’s a bit of York Street.”
Prof Van-Tam has also arranged for a board with a list of club sponsors in front of which managers will stand for post-match interviews.
He goes on to say: “Last season, when fans were unable to attend games, I watched Boston on the live stream. It wasn’t quite the same, but it was a step in the right direction.”
On July 17, 2024, the Jakemans Community Stadium hosted its maiden match in front of spectators, with over 1,000 fans seeing a pre-season friendly versus Lincoln City.
‘The referee bought me a beer,’ says the player.
Prof Van-Tam was one of 723 fans who watched Bradford (Park Avenue) AFC’s 2-1 victory on August 30. He claims that he is well-known due to his frequent appearances on television.
“I’m sometimes asked for a selfie. It’s not too invasive, and they’re aware that I’m just there because I’m a Boston United fan who doesn’t want to speak about work.”
The Pilgrims played a friendly against Matlock Town on July 9, giving the professor the chance to put on his club jersey for the first time in months, have a pint with other supporters, and watch the team.
The referee contacted Prof Van-Tam before the game began.
“He recognized me and ran up to say, ‘Thanks for all your hard work on the Covid thing – I’ve got to give you a drink,’” she said.
“Non-league football is earthy,” Prof Van-Tam says. You hold conversations with strangers.
“They don’t know anything about you – well, they probably do now – and you don’t know anything about them, but you connect with them during games because you’re all part of the same extended family with the same love. It’s all about it.”
The professor was delighted to personally vaccinate Pilgrims strikers Jordan Burrow and Jordan Preston, who is “keen” to acquire a tattoo of the Boston United symbol.
“‘I believe I’m more anxious than you are,’ I told them. It sets an example to others when you have responsible young players who are willing to be seen doing the right thing.”
Jordan Burrow (left) and Jordan Preston (right) of Boston United were both vaccinated by Professor Van-Tam (right)
So, if asked, would he consider joining the Boston United board of directors?
“I’d think about it for approximately 0.5 seconds before saying yes.” It would be necessary to have a thorough conversation about what the job would entail.
“I don’t sure whether I want to wear a blazer and tie to games, as much as I love wearing a Boston United tie on the Downing Street stage. The black-and-amber shirt is my favorite.”
BBC News profiled the FA Cup match between Boston United and Rochdale. The game was played at Boston’s ground, with around 3,000 people in attendance. Reference: bbc news.