This is it, people. This is what our season has been building up to. The crescendo of a final day chance for the Wanderers of Bolton to book a place in the Championship play-offs. The controversial mini, two-leg, knock-out tournament which climaxes at Wembley and boasts a revenue windfall so big, it’s almost the financial girth of the debt BWFC finds itself in at present.
The sweating and nail-biting going on at the Reebok come Saturday, won’t be from the promise of playing in the Premiership, it will be because the underdogs of Blackpool have a legitimate shot at pooping the party. The game against the Tangerines will be a pulse-racer regardless, but I’ve had enough ‘downs’ this season to feel- if given the impossible opportunity- I would by-pass the game altogether for a top-six finish. I’m sure a lot of you would do the same, but the game is going to be a nerve-shredder, however you look at it and not one you’d want to forfeit. I just don’t know how much more of this season’s antics I can take. If I could pick-and-choose our future, I would have another season in the Championship where we could add some flair to the foundation. That’s just me, so because I’m not Harry Potter, I say this to you, ‘Vegas of the North’…
Blackpool as a kid for me was the 80’s so, ‘Track and Field’, ‘Out Run’ and ‘Double Dragon’ swallowed my money. It baffles why I enjoyed ‘Track and Field’ so much. Hitting two buttons rapidly meant not gazing on the entertaining screen but fixating on the aforementioned buttons. Many a time, one of the kids watching would have to tap me on the shoulder, ‘the race is over mate… You false-started’. What must that have looked like? A 10 year old; eyes down, index-fingers bashing two buttons for no reason, while the arcade screen continuously flashes ‘GAME OVER’? Well, for all that humiliation and all those newly issued £1 coins your arcades gobbled up from my pocket money, you owe me tomorrow, Blackpool. You owe me, big time!
‘I haven’t spent a lot of money and I’m proud of where we are. I’m very proud that the same lads that were here when we walked through the door in October are the same lads that are (closing in on) the play-offs.’Dougie giving himself a back-handed compliment and deservedly so. ‘We’ve prepared in exactly the same way, The lads are very relaxed. We’ve been in this position for the last three months, having to win games of football, so they’re very comfortable about what they’ve got to do on Saturday.’
Bolton Wanderers Team News:
There’s a big hole at the back after Craig Dawson’s loan from West Brom came to an end. David Wheater and his amazing chin is the hot favourite to step up to the plate. As we know, the recalled Stuart Holden is back where he belongs, so he must be riding a uni-cycle while juggling 3 powered-up chainsaws to show Dougie he’s up for this one from the start. Ta Daaa!
Player to watch: Stuart Holden
We need someone or something tomorrow. We need a defining moment for the season to put the decorative piping round our promotion cake. The story of our season has had a hook at the beginning, a obstacle to overcome in the middle and is heading for a dramatic climax… It’s just missing a main protagonist. You could argue the hero is Dougie himself, but I see him more as the author. We need someone on the pitch to bring the fairy-tale ending the fans are all craving. Step forward, Mr Stuart Holden, your time has come…
Blackpool Team News:
I’m sure there’s a defender among their ranks who will face a late fitness test, or a midfielder who will feel ill on the day but will be passed fit. There may even be a kid from their youth ranks who Ince wants to have a look at now their Championship status is secured. It matters not. Tom Ince and Matt Phillips are fit, well and likely to start. I just hope Alonso and Ricketts have had their Shredded Wheat.
Player to watch: Thomas Ince
There’s no nepotism here, this kid is the real deal. Will he still be at Blackpool or plying his trade in the Championship next season? I wonder what daddy thinks? Wherever he is next term, doesn’t help our cause… He will be on the pitch tomorrow, unfortunately. 18 league goals and 14 assists for a winger whose just turned 21? Blimey…
Match Facts & Stats
Blackpool have faced Bolton Wanderers 93 times in competitive matches with The Whites winning 36, drawing 26 and losing 31.
The finish to the unwritten novel doesn’t have the hero falling at the last hurdle, does it? Unless it’s extremely post-modern like ‘No Country For Old Men’, of course. There’s no Anton Chigurh in this story or on the pitch tomorrow, thank God, so expect a predictable Hollywood ending… 3-0 down, coming back to win Rocky-style 4-3. Yeah right… 2-1 Whites.
Anything from Watford or Hull at home for the first-of-two shots at a chance of playing at Wembley, or Blackrod away in pre-season.