Let me tell you a little story about the Bolton Wanderers blogger. It’s tough. In fact, it’s very, very tough.
Day on day, week after week, unless Bolton are playing one of the bigger clubs, information of what is happening in the club is scant, usually coming from the good offices of Marc Iles at The Bolton News or the club itself. Unless either sends out a press release, you can sit here for hour after hour, throwing darts at the left hand side of the December page of the Bolton Wanderers calendar.
Naturally, what has happened to Fabrice Muamba has changed that. Stand at the reception door of the Reebok Stadium and throw a couple of stones and I’d give you evens that you’ll hit a reporter. On Saturday, without showing a second of the game, Match of the Day managed to make us first, even if the presenter of the show did initially think that Fabrice had changed his name to Patrice. Whereas earlier in the season, Nigel Reo-Coker was racially abused on Twitter by a Liverpool fan with barely a ripple of police involvement, yesterday a Swansea University student pleaded guilty to making racist comments about Fabrice on the social networking site.
Suddenly, Bolton Wanderers are at the centre of the footballing world. Our manager and chairman are being shown around the world looking drained and haggard outside the hospital where Fabrice is receiving treatment, Kevin Davies is talking with the kind of eloquence you would normally expect of an elder statesman and the rules of the oldest cup competition in the world may be tweaked.
Indeed, these are strange times. When a well known Manchester United reserve team player tweeted that he had a cold, where he would normally receive some supportive messages telling him to get well soon, instead people called him an idiot for saying such a thing whilst a fellow professional lay in a critical condition.
Football, however, will go on. Twenty four hours after Fabrice lay prone on the floor, players were making the most of an ankle tap to get free kicks. Whilst we have all built up camaraderie over our player, there will come a point where people will once again disagree over whether Darren Pratley should play or be shot out of a cannon from the top of Winter Hill. That is the nature of the game. That is the nature of being human.
Yesterday’s reports that Fabrice’s status had been improved from critical to serious, that he was recognising people and responding to questions showed signs that the road to recovery has started, but he is still not yet out of the woods and all our prayers and best wishes should remain centred on him.
But what happened to Fabrice doesn’t make me any more or less proud to be a supporter of Bolton Wanderers. I am as proud to support them today as I was on August 29 1987, as I was on January 13 1993 and May 28 2001. What this weekend has made me is proud to be human, to see others react in the way that they have. And when the media circus dies down, when the cameras leave the front of the hospital and the stadium and, God willing, Fabrice makes a full recovery, I will look back on the last seventy two hours, still proud to support Bolton Wanderers and proud to be human.
As everyone else should be.
Bolton Wanderers: Proud