No story of Boston would be complete without reference to its sporting heroes who have achieved local, national and international recognition. Among them are many footballers, no fewer than six Olympians and two ocean rowers.
Bill Julian who was born in Boston in 1886, played for Boston Town before joining Arsenal in 1889. When the team turned professional in 1891 he had the honour of being its first captain. Bill later played for Spurs and in 1895 became the British Ladies’ Team coach. Another Boston born footballer who started his career at Boston Town was Richard Leafe (1891-1964). His £2,000 transfer fee from Sheffield United to West Ham in 1922 was a record for the time. Chris Woods, from Swineshead, joined Nottingham Forest in 1976 as a 17-year-old and later went on to play for clubs such as Norwich City, Glasgow Rangers and Colorado Springs, USA, which he joined in 1996. Ray Tinkler was a well-known FA referee, serving from 1961 to 1976 with first division teams both at home and abroad. He was also an FA Councillor and chairman of the Referees’ Committee.
In the field of motorcycling Bernard Codd (1934-2013), a former Boston Grammar School pupil and Dickie Dale (1927-1961) were winners of the Isle of Man TT races. Dickie in 1951 and Bernard in 1956. Neil Kent, another of Boston’s TT racers won the Mountain course and in 2010 received the John Goodall ‘Spirit of the Manx’ Award, created to recognise sportsmanship, endeavour and commitment. Neil died following an incident while on a TT practice run in 2011. Motorcycle trials champion Emma Bristow won the first of many European and the World Women’s Trials Championships in 2014.
The town has had its share of Olympians starting with Albert Robert Mills who ran in both the 1920 and 1924 marathons. England’s goalkeeper Michael Pinner who began his football career at Boston Grammar School and played for such clubs as Manchester United and Chelsea appeared for Great Britain in the 1956 and 1960 Olympic Games. Swimmer Melanie Jane Marshall participated in both the 2004 and 2008 games. She also won six Commonwealth medals in 2006 and has since become an award-winning swimming coach to Adam Peaty who won Olympic gold medals in 2016 and 2022.
Boston born hockey players Hannah McCleod and Christa Cullen were members of the 2012 UK Olympic bronze medal winning team. They also took gold at the 2016 Rio games. Both have since been honoured with the MBE for services to hockey. There are many other sporting heroes, such as footballer Jack Manning and cricketer Cyril Bland and two mighty seafaring brothers Steve and Mick Dawson. The brothers attended Carlton Road School. They later became Royal Marines and ocean rowers. Steve Dawson has rowed the Atlantic in both directions on several occasions and his brother Mick became the first to row the Pacific Ocean with Chris Martin in 2009.