Two years ago, on the final day of the 2016/2017 season, long-time and long-suffering Boston supporter Adam Upsall turned around on the terrace at Curzon Ashton and admitted the reason he’d made the trip that day was to ensure the season was indeed over.
“I want to make sure it’s actually finished with my own eyes,” he said. “I need to see it end.”
RUBBERNECKER Adam saw it end all right. As an exercise in misery-fuelled voyeurism it couldn’t be topped: we got hammered. It wasn’t hard to understand why he felt he needed to personally see it, a bit like a witness at an execution. Most fans who showed that day had done so out of morbid curiosity than any desire to cheer on a bunch of players they knew would never wear a Boston shirt ever again. It had been a horrible campaign, best summed up by that astonishing 9-2 defeat at Fylde and Dennis Greene’s disastrous attempt at rebuilding his team in the wake of the Ferriby play-off debacle. The Pilgrims finished 15th that year, way off the pace, and by the time of that Curzon game Greene was long gone. Lucky him – we had no choice but to see it out. I had never been so happy to see a season finish.
END CREDITS I suspect many of you may feel the same way today. We’ve still got a game at Hereford next week, but today’s match marks the final game of a hugely disappointing season here at the Jakemans. Just about everything that could have gone wrong has gone wrong. Our FA Cup run ended against a team we all had to Google. The Trophy wasn’t much better. Our home form has been atrocious. Our summer signings turned out to be duds, and there’s been a constant turnover of players ever since. The heightened expectations of the summer merely added to the disappointment. Ah well. At least the pitch has looked great.
The key now is to get busy signing up players who not only want to be at Boston but who know the league and connect with the club and its fans
I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER Craig Elliott is probably just as relieved to get this one finished. He certainly pulled no punches at the recent fans’ forum, but he handled the criticism aimed his way with the good grace and confidence of a man who has a plan to fix his team. The key now is to get busy signing up players who not only want to be at Boston (and he’s made a great start in announcing his early retentions) but who know the league and connect with the club and its fans. To that end, the club are moving to a new training base, and someone raised the prospect of open training sessions here at the Jakemans – which sounds like a brilliant idea unless you’re Dan the groundsman.
LONG HAUL Elliott admitted that building a team like that is going to take time, perhaps two or more seasons, so we probably shouldn’t expect all the current side to be transformed into title-winning juggernauts in just one summer. That kind of time-frame would give us time to get to know the players and rekindle a connection with the squad that’s been missing in the last 18 months. Perhaps flying in the face of a difficult season, the forum was good natured and constructive. Certainly, there were enough positive vibes to cheer up a few grumpy Boston fans ahead of next season. Well, until the Darlington game happened. So let’s just pretend it didn’t.
TIME TO SAY GOODBYE There was also news about the ground situation delivered by a clearly-emotional David Newton. And once he’d delivered it, a few Boston fans got a bit dewy-eyed too. With the lease here at the Jakemans expiring at the end of next season, it’s now all but certain that 2019/20 will be our last at one of non-league football’s grand old stadiums. In a year from now we’ll be watching the very last game of football played on this site. It’s simultaneously terrifying and thrilling, and the last season here will be full of emotional lasts. With Kettering winning promotion last week, there’s a good chance we’ll get to give the place a good send-off with a proper festive derby at least. I expect they’ll bring more than 26 fans for a start. But the clock is already ticking, so savour today’s game and the post-match awards because this is the last ‘normal’ end-of-season game you’ll ever see here. You can be sure that next year’s will be very, very different. You’ll probably be crying for a start. And not just because we’ve lost on penalties in the playoffs. Again.
Anyway, that’s enough. We’re done for another season. Enjoy today’s game and what’s left of your Easter Monday. Have a great summer. Relax, rewind, think about something other than football for a bit.
Thanks for reading – see you back here in August?
This article originally appeared in The Pilgrim matchday magazine