June 1st 1991, Wembley Stadium. Tranmere Rovers beat Bolton 1-0 and are promoted to Division One. Their supporters celebrate.
May 4th 1997. Bolton need to win at Prenton Park and score twice to make it a hundred points and a hundred goals for a season. They do the latter but not the former as Tranmere hold on for a 2-2 draw. Their fans, and manager, celebrate like it’s 1999.
January 2000. With the clubs battling it out for a place in the League Cup semi final, Tranmere move advertising boards around the ground so that long throw specialist Dave Challinor could cause pandemonium in the Bolton area. Tranmere move onto the final. Sam Allardyce bears a grudge.
August 28th 2000. With his grudge still ongoing, Big Sam calls the Prenton Park facilities ‘somewhat lacking’, his players change at The Reebok, get on the coach, get off the coach, play the game, win, get back on coach and leave.
Sometime after Tranmere Rovers fans send letters with razor blades in them to T’Reebok and subsequently, despite having a great many other teams near them, call Bolton their biggest rivals in a fan poll. Bolton fans laugh and then forget about it.
13th January 2004, Tranmere win 2-1 after extra time in an FA Cup third round replay at T’Reebok. Celebrate like it’s 1999 despite playing a Bolton team so poor, Ricky Shakes was in it. And scored.
So, when they win tonight and their couple of thousand fans storm the pitch and again celebrate like it’s 1999, you’ll know why.
‘Against Portsmouth, we underestimated them slightly (No s***, Sherlock. ed.) Many of their players were on trial. I think we went into the game a little half-heartedly and got punished at the beginning. We are a professional club and we are professional players. We had a lot of senior players on the pitch at Fratton Park and there were many things that we did not do properly. I believe that if we had done things properly then we would not have returned home with the result that we did. All we can do is chalk off the Portsmouth result and start putting things right, beginning at Tranmere. Zat Knight puts his finger on the problem that has been haunting Bolton fans since the beginning of last season. I don’t want them to chalk off the Portsmouth result. I want the match report to be the first thing they see when they come into training from now until May, when we can dispense with the services of the aforementioned Mr. Knight.
Tranmere Rovers Team News:
The official Tranmere site tells us that Liam Palmer and James Wallace are likely to return to the centre of midfield while Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro and Andy Robinson could also begin the game.
Player to watch: Owain Fôn Williams
A player with, quite possibly, the most Welsh name you will find in professional football, the goalkeeper is one of the few senior players retained by Tranmere from last season. Hopefully he’ll be busy tonight.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
David N’Gog is out injured after straining his back at Portsmouth but Marvin Sordell is back from the Olympics and Benik Afobe has a couple of days training under his belt. Maybe, just maybe, we will see some goals. Maybe…..
Player to watch: Marvin Sordell
Played well during the time that he played at the Olympics and now he is back maybe he will be given the game time that he needs to prove he is worth a start.
Match Facts & Stats
Bolton and Tranmere have played each other thirty five times over five different competitions since we first met forty years ago. Bolton hold a 16-9 lead over the years with us leading 12-6 at Prenton Park. The club’s leading scorer in the fixture is Super John McGinlay with four. Tranmere are also one of the clubs that Owen Coyle scored against in his time at the club.
The last time the teams met was in a League Cup second round tie in 2009, Mark Davies scoring in a Bolton victory at Prenton Park.
I hate to say 2-0 after Saturday, but there always has to be optimism. So 2-0, especially after the kids won 10-0 last night.
The reserves are at Halifax tomorrow whilst the first team wrap up their pre season at T’Reebok on Friday against Barcelona ‘B’.