We’ve seen plenty of lads move on from the Boro’ – but few who then decided to come back. Michael Bostwick is one of those few. Bozzie’s return in January 2022 after spending 10 years away from the Lamex was, to start with, a short-term deal; loaned in from Championship side Burton Albion by then boss Paul Tisdale. That in itself counted as a statement of intent in our books. But we’d go onto double down on that decision six months later; a change in manager not getting in the way of the player’s return on a permanent deal after the Brewers decided to release him.
Of course, Bozzie isn’t the first of that epic squad who won back-to-back promotions at the start of the 2010s to return. Ronnie Henry, Joel Byrom, and Chris Beardsley also came back at various points with different degrees of success. For Bozzie, his time away was unique in that he’d converted from midfield general to defensive rock. After injuries kept him out of the side for part of the 2021-2 run-in, the player would eventually return and do the job we all knew he could. No matter the Brewers didn’t think Bozzie’s services were required for the second half of the season. He showed us he still had a lot to offer. And that was enough for Steve Evans to capture his signature.
Michael Bostwick: First Boro’ spell
A utility player in the true sense of the word, a 20-year-old Michael Bostwick signed for Boro’ in summer 2008 after leaving Ebbsfleet United. Bozzie was part of Fleet’s 2008 FA Trophy-winning squad and – at such a young age – had the chance to make a real name for himself by enrolling in the Graham Westley Mk II revolution. It was a chance he took, becoming one of non-league football’s hottest prospects. Of course, he wouldn’t be non-league forever; Bostwick doing his bit to help us into the Football League.
During the 2008-9 season, Bostwick exerted himself across the back and midfield lines. He gave gaffer Graham Westley that option in both. But it was centre midfield where he led by example. He powered Boro’ through our 2009-10 title-winning season. And it was no wonder that bigger clubs started sniffing around before we made the jump into League Two. So often a valuable player for us, Bozzie had an ability to make the tough tackles and to chip in with goals with his venomous strike; indeed, it was his tracer bullet that went in off the post that stood-out as we beat Newcastle United in the 2010-1 FA Cup.
It’s also proof of his stamina that you rarely saw Bostwick miss successive games – if one game at all. And so he went on; contributing goals during the 2011-2 League One season, all of which seemed to be from in excess of 25 yards. The fact that we held onto his services for so long was to our undoubted benefit. It came as no surprise in summer 2012, however, when Boro’ finally relinquished their grasp on him; not before he moved into our list of the most club outings. At more than 200, it’s no mean feat…
Stats do not include expunged Chester City fixtures in 2009-10.