BROWNE ON THE BALL: Fylde thrashing was the low point which led to bright beginnings

Jay Rollins in action against Fylde.
Jay Rollins in action against Fylde.

Duncan Browne looks back at a low point for the season... and suggests it’s time to show how far this Pilgrims squad has come.

Boston United’s 9-2 thrashing at AFC Fylde was a day to forget.

But days like those stick in the mind.

As the final whistle blew, the pummelled Pilgrims made their way to the away end to shake hands and offer their apologies to the supporters who had made the almost 400-mile round trip to freeze in a hailstorm and watch their side humbled.

The gesture was appreciated. The performance was not. Those in attendance won’t forget either in a hurry.

In some ways, that game was the end of the old and the start of the new.

It was Dennis Greene’s final full match in charge, while Jay Rollins, Nat Brown, Ben Gordon and Lewis Hilliard are the only Pilgrims who kicked a ball that day who will be eligible for selection this weekend.

On Saturday, Boston play Fylde for the first time since that day, November 5, 2016 - desperate to stop a miserable run against the Coasters.

Fylde have won their last four games against Boston, scoring 20 times and conceding just four.

The Pilgrims’ only victory against the club came in the first meeting between these teams on November 1, 2014, when Joel Dixon marked his debut with a penalty save.

Since then it has been all Fylde, and a fifth-straight victory will see them crowned National League North champions this weekend.

It’s been a meteoric rise for the club which, under its previous name of Kirkham and Wesham, were celebrating winning the West Lancashire League a decade ago.

You can understand why fans of older, struggling clubs, go green-eyed when they see these new money teams, full-timers in England’s sixth-tier, power up the pyramid.

In a season when Fylde - who drew a crowd of 479 for their top-five clash with Boston the previous campaign - moved into their plush new Mill Farm home, Rushden & Diamonds’ Nene Park stadium was being bulldozed, leaving many to draw Ozymandias-esque parallels.

But like it or not, Fylde are currently a team on the up.

Momentum is very much with them.

Fans are packing into the stadium.

The club is reaching out to the community and - on matchdays and during the week - making all the right noises.

Their template for sustained success isn’t too similar from United’s either.

So, if Fylde do wrap up the title at the Jakemans Stadium on Saturday and a post-match interview from the Pilgrims’ camp suggests witnessing such scenes should be an inspiration for Boston to take into next season, don’t take it too badly.

Five years ago, Jason Lee stood in the tunnel at newly-crowned champions Hyde and said: “This club is what we want to emulate in the next few years.”

Hindsight’s a wonderful tool, and at the time I understood the message Lee was sending to his underachieving squad.

But I think we all know which of those two clubs may still be up there in another five years’ time.

But first things first.

If Boston have serious hopes of challenging for promotion next season, they have a superb opportunity to show what they’re capable of against the champions-elect this weekend.

I could be snide and say an 8-2 defeat may be seen as an improvement.

But in reality, it is time for the Pilgrims to lay down a big marker for next year.