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Bo'ness United Season Review 2023/2024

Bo'ness United Season Review 2023/2024

The Spowarts27 Apr - 16:26
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John Spowart

Bo’ness United Season Review 2023/2024


Bo’ness United’s final game at home to University of Stirling brought the curtain down on Stuart Hunter’s first season as a manager and as first seasons go ‘Hunts’ has done more than a decent job. The BUs finished in their highest position to date in the Lowland League, their third place meaning they should now be invited to complete in the SPFL Challenge Cup.

Hunter came in after the sudden departure of short lived manager Ian Little to Tranent. Appointed in June he had only weeks before the start of the new season but quickly appointed Michael Gemmell as his assistant, bringing in John James Henderson as a player/coach. Joining existing goalkeeper coach Tony Mitchell, the new team then set about putting a squad together for the start of the campaign.


Bo’ness had lost a fair chunk of last season’s squad, Alassan Jones and Lennon Walker, both to Tranent, Nick Locke to Broxburn and Jamie McCormack to Berwick Rangers. After missing the latter part of the previous season, Jamie Todd popped up at Musselburgh Athletic and Zander Miller stepped back from football. Hunter added to the existing pool that already included Daniel Irving and Louis Kennedy from Civil Service Strollers and Fin Malcolm from Falkirk, all signed by Ian Little before his exit.

Hunter brought in Shaun Rutherford from Tranent and Ryan Porteous, Newtongrange Star. Jenna Orr came in as the new physio with other players joining such as Lucas Stenhouse on loan from Livingston, and Kieran Mooney from Keith. Gregor Fullerton was signed up as the second goalkeeper.

As the season progressed there were movements either way, notably Michael Travis signing from Berwick Rangers and Keir Foster on loan from Queen of the South albeit for only a brief spell. Jack Ruddy came in to replace Gregor Fullerton who moved to Stoneyburn and Kieran Mitchell returned to the BUs having signed from Raith Rovers.

The Season

Lowland League

July to September

What was to be a successful Lowland League campaign started well with five league wins including impressive victories at Berwick Rangers and Tranent as well as home to Gala Fairydean Rovers, Gretna 2008 and at Edinburgh University. These results had the BUs in top spot but they lost the next three, two at home narrowly against Albion Rovers, Cumbernauld Colts and at Civil Service Strollers. After that there were two wins at Caledonian Braves and versus Broomhill.

October to December

October started with a home draw against Hearts B where Michael Travis scored two goals on his debut. The BUs then notched up their first win against Celtic B but another two losses came at University of Stirling, the other an unlucky loss at home to East Kilbride. The game did feature another scoring debut this time from Keir Foster on loan from Queen of the South.

An inconsistent first half of the season, though Bo’ness bounced back with wins at home to Cowdenbeath and at East Stirlingshire. After the Scottish defeat at Morton Bo’ness lost versus Tranent, recovering with two victories at Gretna and against Berwick Rangers. The holiday period had two derby matches listed, the first at Newtown Park on Boxing Day a no score draw against Linlithgow Rose. However, the return scheduled for a few days later fell foul of the winter weather. Up to this point it was twelve wins from twenty, the BUs in fifth place in the table.

January to March

The New Year started with three wins against the Shire, Edinburgh University and at Cowdenbeath but lost away to Celtic B in Airdrie. The BUs then beat Gretna before losing at Cumbernauld Colts.

A draw at Albion Rovers was sandwiched by two wins, at home to Caley Braves and at Gala and there were now only five games to go. A last minute Kieran Mitchell goal won the points against Civil Service Strollers to be followed by two memorable results. Bo’ness managed their first ever win against East Kilbride, Scott Dalziel and Ryan Porteous the scorers, and another last minute goal, this time by Louis Kennedy saw Bo’ness win the return derby at Linlithgow Rose.


At this point Bo’ness were third with a chance of moving up to second but only one point gained from the loss at Hearts B and the draw at Broomhill set up the season finale against bogey team University of Stirling. Bo’ness had managed only one win in eight against the students and none at Newtown and they needed the victory to guarantee third spot. As things turned out they did just that, goals from Ryan Porteous, Fin Malcolm and Kieran Mitchell countered the University’s double. Playing two games less than the previous season, Bo’ness finished six places and thirteen points better off, a great achievement for the management team and players alike.

East of Scotland Qualifying Cup

It was only a few weeks into the season when Bo’ness visited Hawick Royal Albert for round two of the East of Scotland Qualifying Cup. It resulted in a straight forward win but in the next round played in early December Bo’ness lost at Newtown to University of Stirling. Once again, the students of Stirling were to get the better of the BUs

South Region Challenge Cup

Seen as second only to the Scottish Cup Bo’ness received a first round bye before receiving what many thought was a favourable home draw against Cumbernauld United. As things turned out it was the West of Scotland side who prevailed thoroughly deserving to progress to the next round. The early exit denied Bo’ness the chance of future potential exciting and lucrative ties.

Scottish Cup

Always eagerly anticipated Bo’ness were drawn at home to Darvel in round 1, a tie to savour even if with some trepidation. Darvel had enjoyed a very successful venture in the national tournament the season before, including their historic victory against Aberdeen before going out to Falkirk. It was not to be this time round for Darvel and as in previous encounters Bo’ness were to get the better of the Ayrshire side with a convincing victory, goals coming from a Ryan Porteous penalty and strikes by Lucas Stenhouse and Ryan Stevenson. In the next round Bo’ness won at Luncarty thanks to a single Tom Grant goal and were rewarded with a third round tie a Championship side Greenock Morton. The BUs gave a good account of themselves but a debatable red card for Ryan Stevenson early in the second half saw Morton to go on and win easier than it might have been. A good first half performance was spoiled due to some controversial refereeing where although the BUs may have lost anyway. they were denied the opportunity to complete the game on equal terms with their hosts.

League Cup

An ever evolving tournament, this time the League Cup was fitted in during the second half of the season, although again on a knock out basis. Bo’ness won at home to Gretna 2008 but went out in the next round at East Kilbride. Well beaten at the K Park Training Academy, Bo’ness were not to reach a third consecutive final.


Although there was no silverware as a tangible reward for the season, Bo’ness United pulled off a remarkable result to finish in third place in the Lowland League including them as one of the top fifty clubs in Scotland. East Kilbride were convincing Champions followed by guest club Heart of Midlothian B making the BUs the best of the rest of the Lowland League sides. Given the manner of Stuart Hunter’s move into the BU hot seat being so close to the start of the new season sees the achievements as even more extraordinary. Hunter and his assistant Michael Gemmell built a squad that gelled quickly, developing a great team spirit that has been apparent all season. The campaign saw some notable results, specifically a first win against East Kilbride and at home to University of Stirling. A creditable performance at Greenock Morton showed the BUs in good light and the excitement of a last minute win at Linlithgow Rose will live long in the memory of BU fans.

Looking ahead, the close season will see some changes although manager Stuart Hunter has retained the services of a large part of the squad. Bo’ness want to build on this season’s achievements including the possibility of some silverware but that won’t be easy in an increasingly competitive Lowland League where all the teams are working to advance. Just to stay still Bo’ness United need to improve and that will take increased efforts off the park to ensure success on it. That work has started and hopefully we will see continued success for our club.

John Spowart
27 April 2024

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