Date: 16th October 2012 at 9:59pm
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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.


7 Replies to “Bolton Wanderers: Memories Of Old”

  • You think you were young, I was four on the 21st January 2000. My first (season ticket) game, as I can’t remember my actual first game (bad, I know), was the match against Tottenham some years later when Campo scored from 40 yards out. Oh how things have gone downhill since I’ve started going. Maybe I should stop.

  • Lovely piece Al. Brought a tear to my eye thinking about my own first game nearly 60 years ago! I loved Burnden so much as a kid and Nat was my hero then and now. So sad to think what has happened since Sam left us. Can Gartside get it right at the fourth time of asking………………?

  • My dad first sat me on the fence of the Burnden Paddock in 1976, I was only 7 and can remember that I kept turning around to make sure he was still there. Then in 1995 I took my son and sat him on the fence in the Burnden Paddock and he would keep turning around to check I was still there, it was a strange moment. I’ll never forget being sat on that fence as a 9 year old watching Frankie Worthy, it was like having a movie star playing for us. Other than Frankie i’d say Super John was the greatest.

  • my dad was a miner for 40 years, worked on the coal face as a ripper, brought up 2 disabled children, he could’t afford the entrance fee so would wait until half time when they opened the gates at Burnden Park, he then walked in for free and watched the second half. As I grew up he would tell me about Nat Lofthouse, Harold Hassall, etc. As a teenager I played with my mates on the pitch at Heywood School every night, this elderly scottish guy would sometimes join us ( he was in his 40’s then ) later learned he was an ex Wanderer who played for Scotland – Willy Moir, a team mate of Nat’s. I used to walk from Morris Green to Burden Park every match day, full of hope and anticipation, as a kid in the late 60’s I was literally crushed – lifted off my feet – when the crowd of 58,000 came off the Burden Embankment the day we lost 1-0 to Liverpool in the FA Cup 5th round, , Ian St John scored the winner after Francis Lee and Wyn Davies had both hit the woodwork for us. Years later I was dancing in the rain at Southampton after John Byrom, twice in the last 10 minutes, ran from the halfway line beating 3 defenders en route to score goals, pulling a 3-1 defecit back to 3-3, we lost the replay 2-0 ! Took my own son to Wembley in 89 watching the Whites win the Sherpa Van Trophy !, a few years later down under, I almost crashed on the freeway listening to the commentary as we beat Reading 4-3 in the Play off Final. Seen great players come and go – Paul Jones, Sam Allardyce, Willy Morgan, Johnny Byrom, Peter Reid, etc. Seen some *****e as well ! I understand Roy McFarland was a dreadful manager where as Bruce Rioch and Colin Todd were great managers, all fabulous famous ex Derby players under the great legendary Brian Clough – certainly need the latter type now. I remember when Todd’s lad smacked Phil Brown, broke his jaw ! for a derogatory remark he made about his dad. Maybe one of our current players should have smacked Coyle – might have knocked some sense into him, then again you ******** hit someone that stupid for long enough

  • My two finest memories are seeing Steve Bull getting knocked out by SJM, and seeing Steve Bull getting knocked out by Chris Fairclough. I’ve been going on and off since I was 6 in 1989 (my first game was the LDV Vans Trophy final) and I’ve had a season ticket since 1993. When things go wrong I’ll scream and shout but I’ll always be there to do it. Can’t imagine any other way.

  • My first games were at 15yrs old back in 89, in the Burnden Paddock, right next to the away fans, where all the singing was done. Great times, remember walking from Bromley Cross to Burnden(and back) once on Boxing Day for a match coz the buses didnt work. Funniest memory was a home game against Tranmere , loads of us were throwing our coppers(pocket change to the non-northerners) into the away end, when suddenly I looked up as a full can of coke was hurled back into the paddock!! 6p for a can of fizzy pop, those were the days..

  • Obviously, supporting Bolton at Burnden Park in the late 80’s and early 90’s, we saw Division One teams rarely visit our humble ground. But when Southampton did in the FA cup (1991?) it was hilarious seeing the away fans decked out in their beloved clubs attire, chanting and clapping hands ascending up the Normid escalator thinking it was the away-end! Haha, obviously, we didn’t put them straight… or the Villa fans, or the Liverpool fans… I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Hull away behind that goal was like watching a real life Rocky film. Nothing since that day, in or out of football, has given me that much exhilaration. Thank you, BWFC for my teenage memories!

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