Date: 11th February 2016 at 10:41pm
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We knew he was unwell, except for the few who thought it was all a sick smokescreen. But we didn’t know the exact story, and on Wednesday evening news emerged that at the age of 63, long-standing chairman Phil Gartside had passed away after a fight with cancer.

Firstly, it should be noted a man has passed away. A man with a grieving family. This is a club that has death with far too many tragedies in the last few years and thoughts should be with the family.

Gartside leaves a legacy of two halves. There were highs and lows, and he was at the helm of one of the club’s most successful periods in his first eight years at the helm. In his recently-released autobiography, Sam Allardyce says the first few years of his time as Wanderers manager was when he had the best relationship with any chairman in his career. While Allardyce was arguably the one with the ideas and the inspiration to overhaul the training facilities and get the players in, Gartside had the faith to buy into it and those days were special.

Many who dealt with him seemed to take a liking to him. Neil Lennon has spoken well in Thursday’s press conference, and players past and present were quick to play tribute.

But in time, that relationship with Allardyce soured, and after a final refusal to make funds available for a Champions League push in January 2007, Allardyce felt compelled to move on from the club.

Decisions in the post-Allardyce era have been questionable to say the least. Appointing someone with no managerial experience to follow in Big Sam’s footsteps was a risk. To then describe the man as ‘the Better Sam’ was then just asking for it.

While Bolton were unlikely to establish themselves as a top eight club forever, there was still a chance to build on something. Instead, too much money was thrown at bad buys, at the hope of just staying on the Premier League gravy train,with the odd bad managerial appointment thrown in. There also seemed to be little in the way of a contingency plan since Eddie Davies has decided to stop putting money into the club, with fans left largely in the dark.

But when times were good, they were good, and if the present mess can be sorted out, in years to come we can remember those good times, and learn from the mistakes.

 

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