A goalkeeper from Wisbech Town FC is set to break a world record held by England and Nottingham Forest legend Peter Shilton.
Paul ‘the Cat’ Bastock should make his 1,250th competitive career club appearance in Saturday’s FA Vase tie at Thetford (November 11).
Bastock (47) is currently on 1,248 games and is expected to equal Shilton’s record of 1,249 appearances in a United Counties Premier Division game at Sleaford on Wednesday (November 8).
It’s been a long labour of love for Bastock who was handed his Football League debut by legendary Posh boss Chris Turner when he was manager of Cambridge United 30 years ago.
Wisbech are Bastock’s 17th club. He’s a legend at Boston United, whom he helped into the Football League under the management of Steve Evans, and still fondly remembered as the number one when Coventry City won the FA Youth Cup in 1987.
‘The Cat’ kept a clean sheet in a quarter-final victory over a Southampton team that included Alan Shearer and Matthew Le Tisser.
“I’ve loved every minute of it,” Bastock stated.
“A lot of hard work has gone into lasting this long, but I’m as buzzing for this weekend’s FA Vase tie as I was when I made my Football League debut.
“I’m lucky to have usually played for teams battling at either end of the table. If there wasn’t so much to play for I might struggle to get up for the games, but I feel fit and agile enough to continue for a bit longer.
“I’ll be thrilled when I finally get past Shilton’s record, but even more thrilled if Peter or the FA would get in touch to acknowledge it. I’ve tried to contact Peter, but I’ve been ‘custard pied’ so far! It’s a shame as Peter was one of my heroes growing up.
“I’ve had some great times. One highlight was obviously my Football League debut for Chris Turner at Cambridge United. I kept a clean sheeet in a 0-0 draw at Colchester so I was happy.
“John Beck (Cambridge coach) gave me a £25 bonus to go out after the game, but I was teetotal at the time so I didn’t use it. I’m not teetotal any more.
“Winning the FA Youth Cup was another thrill as was getting into the Football League with Boston. I’m a bit of a legend there as I made a club record 670-odd appearances and still live in the town.
“I also won a couple of play-offs with St Albans, one of which took them into the Conference. I love winning and keeping clean sheets just as much now as I did in those days.”
Bastock stumbled into the Wisbech camp almost by accident. He started the season at higher level Corby Town, but suffered a rare injury in a pre-match warm-up.
He helped Wisbech as a one-off for a previous FA Vase game, got back into the Corby side, but was promptly sent off and didn’t play for the club again!
Wisbech were happy to snap him up. They haven’t lost a game in which Bastock has played and he’s currently on a run of four consecutive clean sheets.
“It’s great at Wisbech,” Bastock added. “The team are playing well under manager Gary Setchell who has been a breath of fresh air.
“I left Corby after I was sent off in the fourth minute of a game. It was the centre-half’s fault as he underhit a back pass by about 10 yards, but I’ve landed on my feet at Wisbech.
“I hope I’m selected at Sleaford and at Thetford as I’ve kept four clean sheets in a row.
“If I can keep another clean sheet on the day I break the record that would be perfect.”
THE CAT’S FACTFILE
Born: 19/05/1970 Leamington Spa
Football League debut: 25/03/1988 (aged 17) Colchester United 0-0 Cambridge United (League Division Four). Former team mates include Dion Dublin, Liam Daish, Steve Claridge, Phil Chapple and Lee Philpott.
Record appearance holder for Boston United: 678 games
Has also played locally for St Neots and Stamford in the last couple of seasons.
Passed Peter Shilton’s 1,005 league appearances in March 2015
Clubs played for: Cambridge United, Bath City, Fisher Athletic, Kettering Town, Aylesbury, Boston United, Scarborough, Dagenham & Redbridge, St Albans City, Rushden & Diamonds, Worksop Town, Royston Town, St Neots Town, Dunstable Town, Stamford, Corby, Wisbech.
He’s been capped by an England non-league team.