Later on today, three and a half thousand hardy souls will take their life in their hands and cross the border into the badlands/wastelands of South Lancashire.
Not since Captain Oates looked behind him and told his frostbitten friends that he was going for a walk and may be some time have people taken such a terrifying step into the known.
This is a little unfair on Burnley. It is, after all, not their fault. And they never forget.
Like elephants. No, not that they don’t forget like elephants. That is so last paragraph. I was commenting on what some of them look like. All grey skin, like they haven’t seen the sun due to being locked in the coal shed and only being let out when there’s a full moon. And they have big noses as, due to all being born so ugly, the nurse smacks their faces to get them to breathe, rather than their backs like other folks.
It is into this den that Bolton play their first game in the second tier since 2001. And what a game to start with. Eighteen thousand knuckle draggers, the majority of them spitting invective at Owen Coyle for their perceived slight, just because he left them for a better club. Naturally, they will see our relegation as some kind of divine providence, sent down by their God (known locally as ‘Sovereignringy’) to prove them right. And if that’s what they want to believe….
We had to play them at some point I suppose, and getting this game out of the way as early as possible allows everyone to focus on other things. Over three thousand Bolton fans will make the trip, something not seen unless there is free travel. You suspect they will be heard.
‘Football is the best game in the world. We`re going to a very difficult venue against a very good side with a terrific young manager, but it`s a game we`re all looking forward to, getting out there playing and showing our quality. Good side? Check. Terrific manager? Check. Showing our quality? Check. Relegation hasn’t changed some parts of OC’s press conferences.
‘They are crowing about a 2-2 draw with Barcelona at the Reebok in their final pre-season friendly although if you look closely it was a Barca B team!! Our resident monkey, Turfmanphil, is back this season. Crowing about Barcelona? You? Me? Anyone…? Anyone…?
‘All I can do is prepare my team the best I can, know what’s at stake, know how much the supporters care about this game and every other game we ever play when we put on the Burnley shirt and represent this football club and give our best to them.‘ Eddie Howe says, well, very little.
‘I’m ready. Zat Knight. A town weeps.
Burnley Team News:
I bought Danny Ings once in Football Manager and he spent most of the four years with my club on the sidelines with one thing and another. So, there is little surprise that he is out for three to six months with a cartilage injury. The dope. Marvin Bartley and Keith Treacy also look to be out. Chris McCann is 50/50.
Player to watch: Charlie Austin
Seventeen goals in fifty games isn’t a ratio of Lionel Messi proportions, but it is better than anything we’ve got. The twenty three year old has been around the block already, having started at somewhere called Thatcham Town, where he scored more than a goal a game, but he made his name at Swindon Town, scoring more than a goal every other game. He is the sort of player that will cause any defence problems. So our defence will be having kittens.
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
Fabrice Muamba has retired, Stuart Holden is in the States and David N’Gog is lying down. Compared to last season, that’s a pretty empty medical room.
New signings who should play some part in the game include Matt Mills, Keith Andrews and Benik Afobe. Andy Lonergan should be on the bench.
Player to watch: Chung-Yong Lee
Ushered into the team in the forlorn hope that he would be able to pull something out of the bag and save us at the end of last season, LCY has had a summer of rest and recuperation and is ‘LIKE A NEW SIGNING’. There are those who susggest that Chris Eagles should keep the right sided berth. To those I say, you play your best players in the biggest games and, no matter what you think about Burnley’s prospects in the Championship, this is THE biggest game. LCY to start or a statement will have been made before we have kicked off.
Match Facts & Stats
The home team hold a 42-40 overall lead in the head to heads with that extending to 29-14 at Turf Moor. The first game between the sides was at Pike’s Lane in 1888, Burnley winning 4-3.
The club’s leading scorer in the fixture is Joe Smith with nine between 1914 and 1925. The leading second tier scorer is Jack Milsom, who scored seven, including four in one game, between 1934 and 1935.
The last time the clubs met was last season as Burnley won their cup final 1-0. The last game in the league was the Premier League fixture in January 2010, LCY scoring the only goal.
A familiar face as Jonathan Moss takes control of our first game back in the Football League. He took control of two Bolton games last season, the 2-2 FA Cup game at Macclesfield and the 3-2 win at Wolves, booking Wheater, Robinson and Klasnic. The didn’t take control of any Burnley games last term, the last being their 2-0 loss to Nottingham Forest in April 2011.
There should be more scope to get things right this season, so let’s start off with……………..let’s see………..off the top of my head……..2-0 to Bolton.
Busy week. Derby come to T’Reebok on Tuesday and then Forest come on Friday.