We look back at the first game after Fabrice Muamba’s collapse
I do feel I have quite a few games against Blackburn Rovers in this series, and today I`ll be writing about another one. I don`t have any special obsession or hatred with Blackburn any more than an average Bolton supporter, but when we`ve played each other over the years the games have often been memorable, either for the actual match itself or the narrative or context of the meeting in question.
One such encounter was in March 2012, when off-field worry met on-field worry. At this stage of the season, the mere notion of a local derby with both teams fighting against the drop would be enough for column inches as it was. But a week earlier, in an FA Cup sixth round tie, Fabrice Muamba had collapsed, and somehow, miraculously, thankfully survived to tell the tale.
At this stage though, Muamba was still in hospital, on the road to recovery. Meanwhile, up at the Reebok, a big mosaic adorned the Nat Lofthouse Stand reading MUAMBA6, and applause and well wishes beamed in from around the footballing world. After an unthinkably hard week for everyone involved with the club, they somehow had to focus on a football game for the first time since that night in North London.
David Wheater, more than most, would stand up to be counted. Two headers from him in the first half gave us a 2-0 lead in a season where our home form was frankly abysmal. In fact, the goals came eight minutes apart, giving us much momentum. But, like the meeting at Ewood Park earlier that season, Blackburn would get a goal to make things uncomfortable. Steven N`Zonzi got on the end of a Morten Gamst Pedersen long throw and reduced the deficit.
There were more chances for both sides, Mark Davies headed wide, and Yakubu very nearly equalised for the visitors. But we held on, and won. A week later, we then went to Wolves, another team down in the mire, and beat them 3-2, but only one win between then and the end of the season, and in particular a finish to the season that saw back-to-back 2-2 draws, saw us drop out of the top flight.