A lovely piece from bwfc_85. Enjoy…
A lovely piece from bwfc_85. Enjoy…
When I was a kid, I chose to be an Everton fan.
I can just remember football at my Primary school, Brandwood St, Deane, Bolton. A homemade sock-ball, expertly stitched by one of the mothers from the PTA, being hoofed about the uneven play yard. The high-pitched, dinner-lady whistle, bringing an end to the hectic and erratic game of ‘football`, played out by 16-a-side teams of mostly friends. The whistle didn`t just signify the end of playtime; it meant you had to petrify yourself to the ground like you had stared in the eyes of Medusa. Of course, if you were bearing down on goal and one-on-one with the ‘keeper as the whistle blew, coming to a complete standstill not only proved almost impossible to achieve, but also gave the goalkeeper, who was already stationary, a personal and morale dilemma… especially if the score was 33-33.
However, whichever side you were on, whichever position you played in (and it could vary from minute to minute) or if you played in the ‘schoo` team` or not, no-one supported Bolton Wanderers?no-one. In fact, some of the boys hadn`t heard of Bolton Wanderers (alright, I hadn`t). You either supported Liverpool or Everton. Ok, there were a couple of mavericks who would support Man Utd, one I think supported Spurs. But the majority, vast majority, were either the red or blue part of Merseyside. That`s just how it was. The early 80`s, no-man`s land of Bolton Wanderers` history was my formative years of football. I remember turning to my granddad and saying, ‘?Bolton has a team?`
I chose Everton. I was an Everton fan. I used to tell people ‘I am an Everton fan`. Those words would leave my lips. At the time I`m sure I meant it I would question ever saying that nowadays, like it was a misty dream I once had, but for the fact I remember having the shirt as well. The blue shirt with the white panel across the chest and shoulders, you remember the one? I liked it. I loved it. I loved it like I loved all of my birthday presents I received. But now I know that`s all it was: a meaningless item of clothing.
I still had the aforementioned Everton shirt when I was reluctantly dragged along to my first Bolton game at Burnden Park. I can`t remember who we played but I do remember the away team scored early and led 1-0 for most of the match. Me being the size of a smurf, standing in the Burnden Paddock, suffice to say I missed nearly every kick of the ball. But what I didn`t miss, like a man missing one of his vital senses, was the atmosphere. What I could see, however, was what it meant to the people around me as the team from Bolton pushed for an equaliser for 80 minutes. We left the game at the beginning of injury time; my friend`s older bother giving up hope of an equalizer with the score still at 1-0. Then, crossing the bridge over the railway, I heard a sound that still resonates with me today?a Burnden roar! ‘Bolton has scored` my friend`s brother said stood with his hand cupped at his ear. Of course we ran home to see if what we thought we heard was true. Sure enough, there it was on the vidiprinter. The game I had been at and the score was on the TV. On the TV!
That was it, I was a Bolton fan; Bolton fanatic, to give it`s full phonetic. From that day on, I wanted Bolton Wanderers to have everything Everton had and I felt I could make a difference. I also understood from that day I was never an Everton fan. I said I was and believed I was, but I wasn`t. How I know? Everton didn`t keep me awake at night or bolt me upright from my slumber. They didn`t make me lose my appetite. They didn`t make me feel sick with worry and excitement at the same time. They couldn`t turn my love to hatred for them within a 90 minute period, or vice versa. They didn`t force me to spend extended time on the toilet (sorry) or spend money I didn`t have. They didn`t make me sing, dance, scream, swear or even cry. No, my soul was reserved for something else; something more than just a football team and much more powerful than a faith or religion. I enrolled myself into the one-and-only, super-army that would take me on more journeys and roller-coasters than an X-Factor contestant could possibly imagine.
I didn`t choose my football team, like Ian Brown says ‘I don`t have to sell my soul. He`s already in me.`