Writer: Richard McCormick
Date:Saturday February 23 2008
It`s that time of the season again. On Sunday Bolton fans head off up the appropriately named A666 to visit deepest, darkest Blackburn, a place which is short on teeth but big on fingers, and where the phrase 'roll your own` has nothing to do with cigarettes.
There`s a special treat in store this year. REM have re-written one of their hits for the occasion, so the home team will take the field to the strains of 'Slimy Happy People` played by the Feniscowles and District Musical Ensemble, with Obidiah Cleggit on lead banjo.
That`s the Blackburn gags out of the way. Let`s talk footy. This is a difficult one to call. Can Bolton play off the elation of the Thursday`s UEFA cup success, or will they just be knackered? Mark Hughes has made much of his injury situation with defenders Andre Ooijer and Ryan Nelsen both injured, but the seriously large Christopher Samba returns from suspension. The Congolese international has been a hit at Rovers but he was seriously unimpressed with the accommodation provided on his arrival in Lancashire.
'I just remember the storms were so bad, the roof was falling down, and all the electricity went off; there was no light in the room; no TV - nothing,' he said. Welcome to Blackburn, Chris.
For Bolton there are injury doubts for Ricardo Gardner, Heidar Helguson and Danny Guthrie. Rovers deserved their victory at the Reebok in January after a much improved second half performance, but Bolton`s defence has been strengthened since then with the arrival of Gretar Steinsson and Gary Cahill. The battle in midfield will be key, and it`s here that Blackburn look to have the edge. The likes of Kevin Nolan, Ivan Campo and Gavin McCann aren`t exactly blessed with mobility and while Danny Guthrie runs around a lot, he rarely seems to have much idea about the direction he`s heading in.
This is a vital game for both sides. Bolton need the points to pull away from the relegation zone and Blackburn will want to continue the push for European qualification. The odd goal usually decides these encounters and the side drawing first blood will probably go on and win.
Bolton fans are reminded that tickets can be purchased on the day from the ticket office at the away end. Prices are £20 for adults, £10 for crinklies and £7 for sprogs. Those supporters returning from Madrid won`t need scarves or replica shirts to be recognised. They`ll be the ones wearing stitches.
Anyone passing Ewood Park this afternoon may notice a few confused Blackburn fans hanging about outside the stadium. It`s all the fault of our counterparts on the Vital Blackburn site.
`Blackburn Rovers have had a LONG wait since the last Premier League match, but Rovers are back in action on Saturday for the Lancashire Derby with Bolton Wanderers.`
Nip out of the car and tell them it`s tomorrow will you? Ta.
Date:Saturday February 23 2008
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