Bolton Wanderers: Sweet Sorrow
Yes, the time has come my friends, to say farewell. After two and a half years and eight calloused fingers and two calloused thumbs, it is time to hand Vital Bolton over to the next generation. I think I'm the third editor on this site, which makes me either Jon Pertwee or Roger Moore in the lineage. I think I'll go for Roger Moore. I prefer safari suits to cloaks and rubber Loch Ness Monsters.
It's been an interesting thirty months or so as we went from expectation to despair to outright worry and then disgust. From a healthy eighth place in the Premier League to the bottom half of The Championship. Very few have fallen so far, so fast.
Looking back on the first articles I wrote, a Spurs preview and then match report, it is difficult to see the same writer. I recall someone once called me as funny as a wet weekend in Wolverhampton on a Bolton News forum. Thankfully as time, and the writing, progressed that person's view changed. As, I hope, did others.
I never claimed to be a tactical genius and many will have seen that I hardly ever talked about that particular facet. This was partly due to the fact that OC only had one tactic, which seemed to make the job easier. And I never had a real go at the club.
Well, that particular record is about to go.
Bolton Wanderers are no longer my club. They are my team and I went through too much (getting lost in Burnden Park, getting thrown out of Old Trafford, Division Four away trips to Scunthorpe) to not support the team. But the club, on the other hand.....
I do not understand the top of the club. I do not understand how a man who has overseen such a reversal in fortunes as Phil Gartside has is still in charge of Bolton Wanderers. A man who said that Sammy Lee was a better manager than Sam Allardyce. A man who appointed Gary Megson and said that people who knew football understood the appointment. A man who appointed Owen Coyle a couple of years after recommending him to Burnley and appointing Megson instead. A man who has managed to keep his rarefied position in the club whilst others have lost theirs following relegation. And a man who has managed to send Bolton Wanderers into a debt so large, they haven't started building the part of the tunnel where the light will be.
Now, I understand that the debt is owed to Eddie Davies and...blah..blah...blah. That is not the point. The point is that the club is in debt, regardless of who it is to. And the man who has overseen it is Phil Gartside. Most top bosses who would have overseen such an increase would have been out on their ear. Phil, limpet like, clings onto his position and shows no signs of budging.
I was at the fans forum when someone asked him if he thought he was the common denominator in the club's demise. He replied yes, before Jack Dearden butted in and said that he had been the most successful chairman in the club's history. Well, he isn't. And nor does he ever have the chance to be again. Granted, he oversaw eleven years in the Premier League, but that is nothing compared to the many years in the top flight and the FA Cups. True, he oversaw two European campaigns, but one of those was sacrificed to the great god of the Premier League. And we are still in colossal debt. He allowed Gary Megson and Sammy Lee to spend indiscriminately without allowing their immediate predecessor to spend the money that he thought the team needed to get into the Champions League.
Ah, yes. The rose tinted spectre of Sam Allardyce. There is no denying that Allardyce is one of the best managers in recent times. Not at the biggest clubs, although he wasn't given time at Newcastle. But to keep Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham on an even keel, and do better than expected, is an achievement unmatched by many. And what did Gartside do? Gladly gave him his P45.
There is no knowing what would have happened if that money had been spent on the player that Big Sam thought would take us to the next level. We may be where we are now. We may not. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. And Big Sam has always been a mercenary. But for every Championship goal that hits the back of our net. For every Zat Knight slip up. For every underachieving manager since, the malaise started the day Sam Allardyce, for whatever reason, walked out of our club. And the one person to blame for that is Phil Gartside. And for the good of the club, the team and the fans, he should do the decent thing and step aside. Take a lifetime board membership. Take a vice presidency (not presidency, he's no Sir Nat). But let someone with fresh eyes come in a do the job.
Mr Gartside, you've had enough time. And time's up.
Apologies, if you thought that this would solely be a trip down memory lane but I have always avoided calling for people's heads. Not that my opinions will count for anything down at T'Reebok. But there is a reason why my team is now different to my club. And the above is why I no longer feel that Bolton Wanderers are my club. Look, I don't want to go back to the days when we have a superstore in the corner of the ground. But I also don't want to go back to the days when we are playing in the third tier and I have a real fear of that. It doesn't keep me awake at night. Next door's dogs do that job just fine. But it does make me think sometimes. And then I get a cold sweat.
Anyway, I'd like to thank you for your continual readership over the past couple of years, and hope you continue to read under Al's stewardship. I am proud of what has been written, especially the Burnden Park disaster piece and the reason why I support Bolton. This site has been called poisonous and full of bile by such luminaries as Emma Davies, which should have you running to it every day.
You didn't think I'd leave without giving her the oxygen of publicity did you? For shame.
Thank you for the comments on Twitter and the various articles. They do mean a lot and it is with a heavy heart that I'm finishing. I may return in one form or another at some later point. We'll just have to see how life goes.
So, in the famous words of Zico Kelly, goodnightgodblessbyebyetakingthedogforawalkcantbeatmemamspie.