Here’s your Parklar bonus…
Right, here`s your little added extra. Your second article of the night. The Dessert to the tasty article I just wrote. It`s about fascists, and Scousers. Please read it, then return here.
I write a lot about how I`m optimistic yet so unbelievably disillusioned with supporting our football club. You might question whether I really love it at all. I do. So as a treat, I thought I might take you back in time, all the way to the year 2000?..
It`s the 21st January, just three weeks into the new millennium. The morning of my ninth birthday (yes, I`m that young), I had the whole customary cards and presents thing. I remember opening one of the presents and finding a yellow Bolton Wanderers away kit. It was wonderful.
I had never been to a football game before. I was jealous of all the boys at school whose Wanderers-supporting dads had taken them to Burnden since the moment they could watch. My family aren`t from Bolton, and my dad was often working away, so I had nobody to take me to the games when I was that small. I would ask my friend every Monday what the score had been at the weekend, despite having never seen the Whites play. I was a Bolton fan for no reason other than being envious of my schoolmates.
I never got a chance to go to Burnden Park, but remember vividly seeing a half-built Reebok Stadium as a six year old. It was marvelous. And when I got that football kit, I finally felt part of something that my friends had experienced for a huge part of their lives. Then there was the card.
The card that came with the kit shared the same design. I remember this as it`s still one of my most prized possessions today. Inside was an invitation to tour the Reebok, followed by the home game against Ipswich Town. I was finally going.
Touring the ground was incredible at that age. It was a structure of intangible proportions, still reasonably new, and full of wonder. Meeting the footballers and staff I had heard about from my friends was incredible. Jussi, Gardner, Whitlow, Holdsworth, Big Sam and the late great Nat Lofthouse. When I met him, I hugged him like I might have had I went to Disneyland and met Mickey. The man had the welcoming softness of a grandfather, and listened as I told him this was going to be my first football game. Wherever you are Nat, thankyou for that. You took the time out for a young fan and I`ve carried that with me for the rest of my life supporting Bolton Wanderers.
The game itself, I think I found quite dull. We drew 1-1, with Deano scoring our goal. I did like it when we scored, but was completely bemused by the lack of commentary within the ground. It took me a few games to get me into truly understanding what was going on, but after that I was hooked. Twelve years later; I`ve been to promotion parties, to cup finals, great escapes and crushing blows. But when I set off on my way to The Reebok, I`m nine years old again.
I`ll be writing for the week. After all the writing this summer, Mr X deserves a break. See you tomorrow.