Goalkeeper Paul Bastock on breaking Peter Shilton’s world record, retirement and why Wisbech Town can win the league
It’s not every day that a non-league goalkeeper breaks a world record – so the days leading to Paul Bastock’s 1,250th career appearance have been a bit hectic for the Wisbech Town stopper.
The 47-year-old is set to match England legend Peter Shilton’s record tomorrow when the Fenmen travel to Sleaford Town in the UCL Premier and he will set a new record when he takes his place between the sticks when Wisbech visit Thetford Town in the FA Vase on Saturday.
Bastock has been inundated with messages of support ahead of his record-breaking week, and admits that writing his name in the history books has been all he can think about.
“It’s hard not to think about the record, what with all this media attention!” he said.
“I’ve been speaking to a lot of journalists and I’m doing a piece for Radio Coventry this week so it’s been pretty busy.
“The record has definitely been at the forefront of my mind but hopefully the football will do the talking and we’ll get good results.”
While Bastock may not be a household name in English football, he holds a special place in the hearts of Boston United fans having made 678 appearances for the Pilgrims – an achievement that saw him voted as the club’s all-time cult hero in 2005.
He kept a young Alan Shearer and Matt Le Tissier at bay when winning the FA Youth Cup at Coventry City in 1987, but says that one of his greatest achievements is still being able to pull the gloves on three years shy of his 50th birthday.
He said: “Helping Boston into the Football League was a highlight and winning the FA Youth Cup at 16 was another but still being able to put the gloves on every week is up there.
Paul Bastock’s career
Born: May 19, 1970 in Leamington Spa
Nicknames: The Cat, Bazza
Clubs: Coventry City, Cambridge United, Sabah FA, Fisher Athletic, Kettering Town, Aylesbury United, Boston United, Scarborough, Dagenham & Redbridge, St Albans City, Rushden & Diamonds, Worksop Town, Royston Town, St Neots Town, Dunstable Town, Stamford, Corby Town, Wisbech Town.
Honours: FA Cup Youth winners, Coventry City, 1987.
Southern Football League Premier Division champions, Boston United, 2000.
Conference champions, Boston United, 2002
Conference South play-off winners, St Albans City, 2006.
“I played the other week and one of the other side’s players came in the changing room and said ‘your keeper ain’t half good’ and one of our lads said ‘yeah, he’s 47!’ so it’s always nice to get a bit of praise at my age.”
But, despite his evergreen performances, Bastock says this season will be his last and he will instead turn his attentions towards bringing up the next crop of goalkeepers – and on improving his displays on the golf course.
“I’ve been saying I’ll retire for the last 10 years but this year will definitely be my last,” he said.
“I thought about retiring a few weeks ago but Setch (Wisbech manager Gary Setchell) pulled me in and said we’ve got something good going this season and convinced me to stay on.
“The FA has made getting your coaching badges hard by making you sit down and do loads of paperwork and I’m an old dinosaur so I’m way past that!
“I’ve got my goalkeeping school so I’ll keep that going and I’ve managed to get my handicap down to nine so I’ll keep working on that too.”
Bastock’s Wisbech go into tomorrow’s meeting in Lincolnshire looking for a 13th game unbeaten in all competitions, and the veteran stopper is convinced the Fenmen have enough quality to challenge for silverware.
“There’s no reason why we can’t go all the way in the league and make it to Wembley,” he said.
“The lads here are a crop above the standard of the rest of the league but the main thing is that we’re all playing with togetherness.
“We’ve got a great set of lads, there’s always plenty of banter flying about – especially about my age – and we’ve got a great mix of experience and youth.
“We’re 12 unbeaten and Setch has been a breath of fresh air with his enthusiasm so there’s no reason why we can’t get automatic promotion at the end of the season.”
Bastock’s record-breaking run is yet to be recognised by the FA, but the keeper says he will settle for a clean sheet come Saturday – and would reject the chance to net his first ever goal if offered it from the spot.
“I took a penalty for Boston once and I hit the crossbar and it bounced back to the half-way line, so I won’t be taking a penalty again!” he said.
“I’m not one to run up the other end celebrating if we score because I believe it will spur the other team on to get one back even more, but if we get a corner in the last minute I might have a run up there – but the problem is I might not make it back!”