Rafa Mazzarella starts his second UCL Division One season as Bourne Town boss at home to Buckingham Town this Saturday looking to build on last term’s encouraging top-ten finish.
After a torrid 2013-14 season under club legend Darren Munton when the Wakes finished second from bottom, the improvement was a welcome surprise along with the potential shown by 2014-15 player of the season Aaron Jesson, midfielder Henry Dunn and striker Josh Hales.
But “Rafa the Gaffer” and his side will have to go some way to matching the Wakes’ successful effort of 1990-91 - 25 years ago this season.
After the excitement of the 1990 World Cup in Italy and England’s semi-final heartbreak against West Germany, the nation was ready for the 111th league season.
Bourne went into it under a cloud, starting the season £3,000 (almost £6,700 in today’s money) in debt and struggling to form a working committee that would run the club.
But the mood off the pitch was in total contrast to the confidence on it, with player-manager Mark Mitchell and his assistant Jimmy Jackson having guided the Wakes to fourth place in what was the Nene Group UCL Premier Division season of 1989-90, with 70 points after winning 19 of their 42 league games.
Darren Munton, Dave Scotney and Les Lawrence scored an incredible amount of goals, but there were a hell of a lot of lads who also made it happen - just as much as the lads up front.Steve Appleby, captain of Bourne Town FC during the 1990-91 double-winning season
Club captain Steve Appleby, who ended the title-winning season as supporters, players and overall player of the year, said: “It all started in the summer when the lads went to Amsterdam for a team bonding trip.
“There was already a good team spirit, but the trip gave us the closeness that went a long, long way towards the season we finally had.
“We had a side full of quality, but raw quality with the likes of Les Lawrence (ex-Peterborough United), Stuart Hodson and Jeremy Moulds (former AFC Stamford defender).
“We seemed to have a bit of everything and because of the team spirit we had, any knocks that we had were taken as a team.”
After a pre-season that included matches against Lincoln United, Pinchbeck United and Sleaford Town, Bourne started the 1990-91 season with a 2-1 defeat to Blackstones in the Lincs FA Senior Cup and an opening UCL 1-1 draw at Eynesbury Rovers with Dave Scotney on target.
Mitchell said after the game: “I was a little disappointed not to have collected all three points after dominating for long periods.
“But having said that, we could have found ourselves 3-0 down in the first 15 minutes, so it was particularly pleasing to have weathered that early storm and to fight back.
“With a little bit more luck, we could have won but with several players still on the injured list, I feel we’re capable of having a good season once everyone is fit.”
However, a statement of intent from Bourne Town was delivered on August 22, 1990 with a 5-1 win at home to S&L as Darren Munton grabbed a brace and strike partner Dave Scotney was also on target.
Munton then bagged a hat-trick in a 3-2 win at Cogenhoe United as the Wakes went on an unbeaten run in league and cup through to September.
Club captain Steve Appleby said: “The season couldn’t have gone any better, with a set of lads who were willing to go to war for each other.
“Darren Munton, Dave Scotney and Les Lawrence scored an incredible amount of goals, but there were a hell of a lot of lads who also made it happen - just as much as the lads up front.
“Our philosophy was to go for broke and attack every time because we had a fantastic spine to the side and our manager Mark Mitchell knew us as players.
“We had goalie Andy Carr who was a Pat Jennings-type keeper, right-back Glenn Notley who we called ‘Ceefax’ because every little thing that was going on in football he knew about it and Stuart Hodson who was one of the best footballers I ever played with.”
The Wakes did have setbacks, a 6-0 hammering at Northampton Spencer in November 1990, heavy defeats at Histon (5-0) in the FA Vase and Wembley Town (4-1) in the FA Cup.
But Bourne ended up winning the league on April 13, 1991, with a 2-1 home victory over Potton United - in front of more than 400 fans at Abbey Lawn - with a header by Lawrence and a late free-kick by Munton to permanently paint his name into Wakes folklore.
As the Free Press reported at the time, Bourne had “a squad of players strong enough to outlast their adversaries”.
So a first UCL title in 19 years and UCL Benevolent Cup glory came to the Abbey Lawn under Mitchell and Jackson, a double act Appleby described as “a young manager who was learning as he went along and an older, wiser head who was a father figure to the players”.
As the then UCL chairman Terry Bates said at the end of an unforgettable season: “Success on the park is only a small part, albeit the most important part, of the jigsaw that makes up a football club.”
Bourne Town: Andy Carr, Glenn Notley, Gavin Smith, Jeremy Moulds, Darren Bloodworth, Mark Smitheringale, Steve Appleby, player-manager Mark Mitchell, Darren Munton, Les Lawrence, Dave Scotney, John Rawdon, Chris Moyses, Shaun Burke, Ian Robson, Stuart Hodson, assistant manager Jimmy Jackson, chairman Eric Hayhurst, vice chairman and secretary Don Mitchell.