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Bolton Wanderers: 1966 And All That



Evening everyone. Another cracker from Skopelos Chris. Enjoy…

There was a picture in the Times sport section the other week, before the England Brazil game, of Pele taking a turn in goal during a training session with the Brazil squad on Wanderers Bromwich Street training ground during the 1966 World Cup, watched by a healthy turnout of locals.

Ι was there. I was only three at the time so I only know this because my Dad, who took me, told me the story later on. I was too young then to be interested by Brazilians of a footballing or indeed any other variety! This reminded me of some of the great players I've been lucky enough to see in a white shirt over the ensuing years at Burnden and the Reebok - from Peter Thompson and Franky Worthy to Okocha and Campo. And also made me reflect on where we have been over those years, both up and down, to where we are now and why I and quite a lot of us of a BWFC persuasion feel so gloomy about the current situation.

Depending on how old we are, I guess we all have our own image of the Wanderers; what it means to support them and what we expect them to be. When I first watched them, Bolton were on a depressing slide from being a once ever present First Division team (in old money) towards the Third. Since that initial decline, it's been the cliched roller coaster going from third up to first, then all the way back down to fourth; only to rise back again to the heights of Premiership stability and Europe, with a load of Wembley finals along the way, to now, three quarters of the way through our season and down to three points off the Championship drop zone.

Back when I was a young boy watching Wanderers, I dreamed of and wished for us to be a big first division team again, with games on the telly, big crowds and all that. And we eventually got there, and even with all the ups and downs, nearly half of my Wanderers watching life has seen us in the top division. Which is why I suppose it seems so rubbish now. A come down, and a team constantly failing to deliver on expectations. Someone wrote in these columns a while back that we needed to remember that we don't just deserve, because we are Bolton, to be in the top flight. That like the Leeds's and Forest's and Leicester's of the world we need to acknowledge that we are where we are, sadly on merit, and so to speak, get over it.

But it's not that easy. Just as it was heartbreaking to see us collapse away from the first division in the early eighties, so it is now to see what seemed such a solid and potentially longstanding tenure in the top flight fall apart; and all the more so because of this season's passionless and impotent attempt to get back. It's easy to get frustrated and angry about this but we shouldn't be booing during games however much it might be deserved. That can't help, though the performance on the pitch will always be the catalyst for the atmosphere at Bolton and rarely vice-versa.

The problems at Bolton lie ultimately in the direction of the club, not with the current manager who has just picked up a torch that was very much going out. I can't say I am massively confident he can reignite it but I am ever hopeful. If Wanderers are to turn it round, momentum needs to be built quickly now in order to build confidence, and also hopefully keep some sort of a decent squad in place to mount a proper challenge next year.

We don't deserve to be in the top division, but with all that's been built up over the last fifteen years or more, we should be in it. It would be shameful if the club let that slip and settle for a life in the lower divisions.
The Journalist

Writer: AlParklar Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Thursday February 14 2013

Time: 7:26PM

Your Comments

Really great piece Chris, I couldn't agree more. As I have said many times on here the booing really doesn't help. I have to admit the players performances don't help either on occasion, but sometimes we have a responsibility to lift the players if they can't do it themselves.
Boltongav
How league clubs operate has been permanently changed by the Bosman Ruling and the Revenue streams from Sky and Marketing. The Premier League has evolved into no more than a luxury boys club for the elite clubs, the numbers made up by other clubs who will enjoy their brief taste of success rubbing shoulders with the best, though innevitably their flame shall dim as they fall from grace. In tandem with this the media promote the hype, patronising supporters with propaganda focused on trying to justify the greed and waste - the best league in the world, the best players in the world, home grown superstars, the creation of false idols. Marketing at its best - Football has been highjacked to the detriment of its history, its supporters and its local players. 35 years ago there was a level playing field amongst clubs, local lads played for their home town teams and supporters related with them. Today our leagues are awash with foreign players showered with ridiculous sums of money, instant millionaires on guaranteed contracts, regardless of performance or results, they have no self identity with the club, most of our players knew little or nothing about Bolton Wanderers before they came here, we are simply the club willing to employ them for a short while on whatever kings ransom has been agreed. We the supporters have no say in these affairs, yet we display our loyalty to the banner, to our town team regardless as those in charge enjoy the lifestyles the club provides for them, at a micro level it basically is a display of the corrupt priviledged class system, in our particular case its the charge of the light brigade all over again - incompetent leaders taking us to death while they remain enveloped in luxury. After saying all that we sure have a tough game this Saturday - hope the new lads all get a game, including Holden, and I personally don't care a damn about anything other than victory - a true BWFC football supporter
aussie mike
Good article, i can relate as i am sure can many BWFC fans to your hopes and dreams held for our club during the journey we have been lucky enough to experience during our time as fans. For me the last 25 years. It is fair to say that although disappointing this is just another chapter in this journey and maybe its not realistic to expect to be on the ascent all the time. That said it doesn't make itany less disappointing watching your team slide. Mike the reality of top flight football is frightening. It beggars belief at how rediculously exaggerated the realms of what is financially acceptable have become. It seems football has just evolved to copy the model of society as we know it with a rich and poor divide. It wont stop though will it. Who has the power to cap wages, transfers, tv deals, sponsorship? is it fifa or is it a political matter. i just cant see it ever being a level playing field, however it would be good to see more of an effective incentives to produce homegrown talent over foriegn bought imports
Danfarn80
Before this Season's Championship Season, All I knew was PL. I started in our second Season of 11 years of PL Footie.
Muur
Agree Dan, it's unrealistic to expect us to always be on the up and I think most people would have been happy to see us just stay still and survive in the prem. What's disappointing is seeing us actually going backwards. Hopefully that's now been addressed and its good to see DF's words about this in the BN today. Time will tell I suppose next season
Skopelos Chris
 

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