It’s hard to figure out if the EU’s decision to ban roaming charges a couple of months ago is going to end up being a blessing or a curse. Before the ban, refusing to fork out a month’s salary for a modest data bundle on holiday placed you in a kind of internet quarantine (on the odd occasion you weren’t in a bar demanding to know the WiFi password). Such isolation could often be quite refreshing, particularly when trying to immerse yourself in the cultural delights of a foreign country.
But that’s all changed now, and I’m not entirely sure for the better.
Sure, on the one hand you can now Instagram photos of your currywurst. On the other hand, you’re also now able to subject yourself to live updates of Boston United losing 4-0 at Southport whilst in Berlin’s David Hasselhoff museum, which is exactly where I found myself last Saturday.
The bad news of an opening day defeat would once have been delivered as a terse one-line text from my dad several hours after I asked for it, but in 2017 it unfolded in real-time as I was gazing upon a startling large mural of a topless Hoff, signed by the man himself.
Seriously, don’t ask.
After leaving the museum, I was even able to watch a video of Southport’s first goal on the metro – a seven second looping horror movie which left the walls of Rosenthalher-Platz U-bahn station reverberating to the expletives of an angry Englishman.
I can’t help but feel like I jinxed it. Less than 12 hours earlier, inside the kind of underground Berlin bar that looks like the builders walked off mid-way through construction, I had been eagerly discussing Boston United’s pre-season prospects with the kind of wide-eyed optimism you only associate with someone who is either very drunk, or doomed to be wrong about absolutely everything. “And this will the first time anyone’s ever talked about the Vanarama North in THIS place!” I declared, moments before I nipped to the toilet and discovered it had recently been vandalised by some York City fans.
York, of course, are favourites to do well this season, but they too had a rude awakening the following afternoon. But hey – you only have to look at all the results of the opening day to understand that Boston and York were in good company, with pretty much all of the pre-season hot tips having their bubbles burst.
The opening round of games served as a timely reminder that there are simply no easy games in this league, and even the top sides will probably taste defeat more frequently than last year’s bunch. Still, losing the first game definitely stings more than a routine defeat on a wet Tuesday night in December, particularly when the defeat is a heavy one.
After allowing the imagination to run riot during the phony war of pre-season, the sudden dose of reality can lead to immediate reactions that ignore both logic and context, which is unfair given only 90 minutes of a very long season have elapsed. We shouldn’t forget that the Pilgrims are attempting to knit together an entirely new side, something very few managers have managed to do successfully over a single summer. Even the Hoff would struggle. And while that excuse can’t be used indefinitely, it is still worth bearing in mind over these first few games.
But all that aside, you can also forgive Boston supporters – particularly those who travelled to Merseyside – a feeling of wearied resignation as they watched their team slip to another heavy defeat on a day when absolutely everything seemed to go wrong. Pilgrims fans rightly feel overdue another day like that brilliant thrashing of Stockport four long years ago. Adam Murray will know this more than anyone else, and his candid reaction after the game Southport pulled no punches. Nor did Gregg Smith when issuing an apology on Twitter later that evening. No football fan, especially one who made a long cross-country commute, wants to hear a long list of excuses on their way home, and neither Smith nor Murray attempted to pin the blame elsewhere.
So no – it wasn’t a great start. But that’s all it was: a start. I doubt anyone at York or Salford is panicking just yet; nor should we.
But seriously, if you’re ever in Berlin when Boston are playing, maybe stick your phone away and just appreciate all the Baywatch memorabilia. It’s better for the blood pressure.
Really, don’t ask.
Terrace Chatter originally appeared in The Pilgrim