Date: 10th January 2013 at 3:06pm
Written by:

That is that, the end.

So. Here we are. The parting of the ways. The walk into the sunset. The end of an era.

Yes, the time has come my friends, to say farewell. After two and a half years and eight calloused fingers and two calloused thumbs, it is time to hand Vital Bolton over to the next generation. I think I’m the third editor on this site, which makes me either Jon Pertwee or Roger Moore in the lineage. I think I’ll go for Roger Moore. I prefer safari suits to cloaks and rubber Loch Ness Monsters.

It’s been an interesting thirty months or so as we went from expectation to despair to outright worry and then disgust. From a healthy eighth place in the Premier League to the bottom half of The Championship. Very few have fallen so far, so fast.

Looking back on the first articles I wrote, a Spurs preview and then match report, it is difficult to see the same writer. I recall someone once called me as funny as a wet weekend in Wolverhampton on a Bolton News forum. Thankfully as time, and the writing, progressed that person’s view changed. As, I hope, did others.

I never claimed to be a tactical genius and many will have seen that I hardly ever talked about that particular facet. This was partly due to the fact that OC only had one tactic, which seemed to make the job easier. And I never had a real go at the club.

Well, that particular record is about to go.

Bolton Wanderers are no longer my club. They are my team and I went through too much (getting lost in Burnden Park, getting thrown out of Old Trafford, Division Four away trips to Scunthorpe) to not support the team. But the club, on the other hand…..

I do not understand the top of the club. I do not understand how a man who has overseen such a reversal in fortunes as Phil Gartside has is still in charge of Bolton Wanderers. A man who said that Sammy Lee was a better manager than Sam Allardyce. A man who appointed Gary Megson and said that people who knew football understood the appointment. A man who appointed Owen Coyle a couple of years after recommending him to Burnley and appointing Megson instead. A man who has managed to keep his rarefied position in the club whilst others have lost theirs following relegation. And a man who has managed to send Bolton Wanderers into a debt so large, they haven’t started building the part of the tunnel where the light will be.

Now, I understand that the debt is owed to Eddie Davies and…blah..blah…blah. That is not the point. The point is that the club is in debt, regardless of who it is to. And the man who has overseen it is Phil Gartside. Most top bosses who would have overseen such an increase would have been out on their ear. Phil, limpet like, clings onto his position and shows no signs of budging.

I was at the fans forum when someone asked him if he thought he was the common denominator in the club’s demise. He replied yes, before Jack Dearden butted in and said that he had been the most successful chairman in the club’s history. Well, he isn’t. And nor does he ever have the chance to be again. Granted, he oversaw eleven years in the Premier League, but that is nothing compared to the many years in the top flight and the FA Cups. True, he oversaw two European campaigns, but one of those was sacrificed to the great god of the Premier League. And we are still in colossal debt. He allowed Gary Megson and Sammy Lee to spend indiscriminately without allowing their immediate predecessor to spend the money that he thought the team needed to get into the Champions League.

Ah, yes. The rose tinted spectre of Sam Allardyce. There is no denying that Allardyce is one of the best managers in recent times. Not at the biggest clubs, although he wasn’t given time at Newcastle. But to keep Bolton, Blackburn and West Ham on an even keel, and do better than expected, is an achievement unmatched by many. And what did Gartside do? Gladly gave him his P45.

There is no knowing what would have happened if that money had been spent on the player that Big Sam thought would take us to the next level. We may be where we are now. We may not. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. And Big Sam has always been a mercenary. But for every Championship goal that hits the back of our net. For every Zat Knight slip up. For every underachieving manager since, the malaise started the day Sam Allardyce, for whatever reason, walked out of our club. And the one person to blame for that is Phil Gartside. And for the good of the club, the team and the fans, he should do the decent thing and step aside. Take a lifetime board membership. Take a vice presidency (not presidency, he’s no Sir Nat). But let someone with fresh eyes come in a do the job.

Mr Gartside, you’ve had enough time. And time’s up.

Apologies, if you thought that this would solely be a trip down memory lane but I have always avoided calling for people’s heads. Not that my opinions will count for anything down at T’Reebok. But there is a reason why my team is now different to my club. And the above is why I no longer feel that Bolton Wanderers are my club. Look, I don’t want to go back to the days when we have a superstore in the corner of the ground. But I also don’t want to go back to the days when we are playing in the third tier and I have a real fear of that. It doesn’t keep me awake at night. Next door’s dogs do that job just fine. But it does make me think sometimes. And then I get a cold sweat.

Anyway, I’d like to thank you for your continual readership over the past couple of years, and hope you continue to read under Al’s stewardship. I am proud of what has been written, especially the Burnden Park disaster piece and the reason why I support Bolton. This site has been called poisonous and full of bile by such luminaries as Emma Davies, which should have you running to it every day.

You didn’t think I’d leave without giving her the oxygen of publicity did you? For shame.

Thank you for the comments on Twitter and the various articles. They do mean a lot and it is with a heavy heart that I’m finishing. I may return in one form or another at some later point. We’ll just have to see how life goes.

So, in the famous words of Zico Kelly, goodnightgodblessbyebyetakingthedogforawalkcantbeatmemamspie.


24 Replies to “Bolton Wanderers: Sweet Sorrow”

  • You know how I feel about your writing and your articles. You also know then, how saying all the usual stuff when someone leaves something, would sound like generic mush off a Hallmark card. All I’m going to say is, the biggest compliment I think I can give you: In the two years of suffering I’ve had to endure as a Bolton Wanderers supporter, your articles are the only things that have kept me sane.

  • This is my first comment on here and hopefully will be less negative than aussiemike (easy aussiemike, only joking). I would like to echo bwfc75s’ sentiments. I’ve been an avid reader for a couple of years, through the lows and the so lows it makes the lows seem high, and you have always kept me entertained. Good luck with things moving forward. I reckon you’ll miss it so much you’ll be guesting before you know it. Cheers Mr X

  • All the best to you Mr X. After a somewhat shaky start with your juvenile nick names for the players you have matured and entertained us all with your grown up writing! Thanks and good luck pal. Us Vital Bolton fans have been served well in the past few years by Richard McCormick and now by Quentin. A new era beckons.

  • I forgot to say that I could not agree more with what you have to say about Darkside. It is staggering how this breed of “person” manages to survive in “business” when if we do the slightest thing wrong at work we are gone.

  • Thank you for all the time you have invested in making honest comments about the various matters that have occured over the last few years. It appears the good times are over for now and they look like being gone for quite a while. In truth, we just do not know when the club will hit rock bottom but it could happen if Dougie does not get us playing, defending and getting back to back wins real soon. Enjoy what you are off to do.

  • As the others said it’s been great reading the atrcoles over the past few years. Lets hope you can pop in every now and then.

  • We’ll miss you, Mr X. Good luck with the alcoholism. And, for the record, I think you were a bit too nice about Mr Gartside. Don’t forget that he’s on the board of the FA and proposed a two-tier Premier League with no promotion from or relegation to the remainder of the Football League. And that was just over a year after Allardyce left. He knew he’d got it wrong then (Allardyce arrived only a few weeks after Gartside took his current job) and he knew he’d still got it wrong when he tried to revive the ploy another year afterwards. Gartside got lucky once right at the beginning, and has been getting it vastly wrong ever since. The guy would destroy the very fabric of English football itself just to make sure he keeps his fat wage packet.

  • I can’t really remember how long ago I first stumbled upon Vital Bolton; hazarding a guess it was about 2 years ago. What I enjoyed from the start was your combination of measured writing (neither partisan, cloyingly positive nor caustically negative), considered opinion, informative content and humour. Your writing talent really has burgeoned over that time and you have written some pieces of towering quality that were genuinely moving; I hope you carry on writing somewhere and continue to develop as a writer. The other thing about the site that has developed over time is the emergence of a community here. A community of diverse souls with very varied opinions united by two things; a common irrational irresitible devotion to Bolton Wanderers being one of them. The other has been you, Mr X. Throughout your tenure as Glorious Leader your warmth, honesty, commitment and good humour have shone from your writing. We will all miss you. Thank you very much.

  • Hang on. I take all that gushing ********* back. You lied to us. You said you would reveal the reason we could not have a “Nobody” on the MoM vote. You didn’t. Mr X we demand you return to the despatch box to answer the charge…

  • Gracious farewells Mr X and sincere best wishes in your endeavors, as you would expect I of course allign myself with your parting article, for many fans open criticism towards the club you loyaly support is tantamount to treason, it contradicts the relationship, how can you love your wife and be hostile towards her at the same time – it is simply not constructive, however, within the context of supporter and club I feel every fan has the right to point a finger when individuals fail. For Gartside it appears his most important responsibility is to have the right manager running the team, in this respect his appointments can turn good, as with Allardyce, or they can turn bad, regardless of ill luck and good fortune, whatever the outcomes he takes full responsibility. He cannot steal Big Sams success as his own while washing his hands of the disasters thereafter, even our most distinguished military generals fell on their swords following campaign failures that exposed their follies and lack of judgement. Successful chairmen across all fields utilise the knowledge of others who know better than they, a clever man knows he himself does that have all the answers, I would expect our chairman to appoint our managers on the guidance and concensus of sharp minded football wise advisors, however, it appears Gartside beliefs he knows best, as though his power rise within the FA has earned him the right to run our beloved club as an autocratic dictatorship, akin to a neo nazi bureaucracy – I am right when I am right and I am equally right when I am clearly wrong, therefore only those below me can fail, never myself. He shares a trait with Adolf on that one. In all fairness he can be forgiven for making one seriously bad decision, we are not privy to the true reasons behind Sams departure, but for all his decisions thereafter to be equally bad is unforgivable. His consistent ineptitude has been so lasting and damaging it truly beggars belief that Eddie Davies has not removed him before now. In all honesty, I was prepared to accept his logic for holding faith with Coyle late last season, our survival seemed assured until fate twisted the knive in those last 2 games. When he proceeded to stand by him at the start of this season I knew immediately Gartside had truly lost the plot in continuing to place the vital interests of this club, that are entirely dependant on team success out on the field, in the hands of a manager who had produced nothing but failure throughout his 2 year tenure. On the bright side the BBC forecast a dry day tomorrow !

  • We’ve incorporated Americanisms in our football and more I’m sure are imminent (the salary cap being one). But there’s one Americanism that we’ve not adopted from American football that Bolton especially should have done. I’ve been a fan of the NFL (for my sins) since the 80’s and when a Head Coach (manager) in the NFL gets canned (the Sack) the General Manager (Chairman) goes with them! ‘You hired him…’ In fact, this year two GM’s were sacked and the Managers stayed! That would have meant, if Eddie Davies had done the right thing, Gartside being sacked and Big Sam stayed. The least we would have got was Gartside going when Megson did. Somehow our Chairmen (decision makers) seem devoid of liability for their own actions. Something even the Yanks have rectified.

  • its easy for me to take quick pot shots at Gartside or others, though it can be far from correct to do so when you are not armed with the true facts. My frustration is generally expressed through my comments and many times after I have posted a comment I wish that I had said things differently. I dont know exactly what remit Gartside has and who has the final say on player and manager appointments. In fairness to the directors and ex managers, had we avoided relegation last season we may now be in a far better position even with Coyle still in place and Gartside would not be in the firing line, he might argue its easy to base our arguements having the benefit of hindsight. I would counter this by claiming the measure of any chairman and manager is how swiftly they resolve problems when they first emerge, allowing things to slide relentlessly backwards for more than 2 years is a clear sign failure has embedded itself amongst those running the club. Weeding out failure can only begin when you make those responsible accountable and take the neccessary steps to prevent it occuring again.

  • It would appear that I’m a little late for the party, as sad as it is that this is a party for me. All I’ll say is that I wish you well for all of your future endeavors, and I hope that one day, you’ll be drawn back by the undoubted allure of this site.

  • Aha. Yes, the thing about the polls is that there are only 14 spaces and, as both OC and DF invariably use all 3 subs, there is no room for a “none of them”. Pretty simple really.

  • Got to say that I do detect a few reasons for positivity recently. By all accounts the Sunderland performance was a decent one. Despite not picking up a massive number of points, there are signs that we are better under DF than OC. Above all, the return of Holden, Wheater, Mavies & Vela is a huge fillip for the club. Add to that the performance of a few of the academy players who look able to step up to the first team and the long-awaited appearance of Mercurial Marvin who just might be the answer to our goal scoring woes. Add in the unknown quantity that is ex-Verona striker Craig Davies and maybe the odd loanee to come. And perhaps the future is looking a little brighter than the recent past has been. Let’s hope so!

  • Amongst all the positive vibes being aired courtesy of a reserve game, injury updates and a £300,000 transfer, the only thing that matters is results. Optimism is great, the more the better and signs off the field are certainly better than of late. With only 20 games left we no longer have the cushion of time and space, unless we start winning regularly as from tomorrow we are likely to miss the play off spots. Freedman knows every single result from here will be significant. I hope the new lad adds some grit and fire to the attack, with Wheater and Holden back shortly thereafter the team should have a different dimension, all mentioned are capable of scoring in this league, particularly from set pieces.

  • Don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying that everything in the Wanderers garden is suddenly rosey. Mike is dead right in that we do need to put together a seriously successful run of results just to make a play-off place. Maybe now that management and players have had a good few weeks together they will have developed a better understanding of what is required from each other. And if the returnees and young players and new guys can add some zest to the team then I think some cautious optimism is in order. God knows it has been a long long time since we could last say that!

  • Really can’t see the point of having a column, which is meant to represent the fans’ point of view, and not pointing out until the very last one – that Gartside is an ongoing disaster. Since this has obviously been your opinion what has been the point of concealing it? Football is all about opinion, that’s one of the things that makes it so interesting. Given the platform, why hide an important one. Silly, really.

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