Spyin' Kop: Bolton away

Posted by blurred on December 29, 2005, 06:37:47 PM

Like the Roman God Janus, often depicted with a double-faced head, at this time of year football fans find themselves simultaneously looking back over the last year, and looking forward to the next. 2005 will go down as one of the more remarkable years in Liverpool’s long history for the juxtaposition of being bettered by our neighbours for the first time in nearly two decades, yet winning our fifth European Cup at the same time. What will the rollercoaster that is 2006 hold for the Reds? Who knows…

Another year over, a new one just begun…

In our first game of last year we went down on New Year’s day 1-0 at home to Chelsea, although Rafa’s side that starts 2006 is in demonstrably ruder health than the class of 12 months ago. Indeed, we find ourselves in the middle of our best run of results in over a decade, after notching up our ninth successive league win in the Merseyside derby yesterday, and having only conceded two goals in over two calendar months since our reversal at Cystal Palace in the League Cup on October 25th.

Our first opponents of the new year, Bolton Wanderers, are also ticking along quite nicely. Seventh in the table at the time of writing and progressing well in the UEFA Cup, Sam Allardyce’s men must be fairly content with life at the Reebok this year. Indeed, Bolton can be seen as a bit of a bogey side for the Reds, having famously dumped us out of the FA Cup in the 92/93 season, and having notched a couple of Premiership wins against us in recent history, including our last visit to the Reebok in August 2004. Indeed, Liverpool know that they will be in for a tough game against the whites, as the history between the sides shows. In 119 matches Liverpool only just shade the contest, having won 46 to Bolton’s 42, with 31 draws. While Liverpool fans may be hoping for a repeat of the 7-2 thrashing meted out in November 1930 (or even a repeat of the more recent 5-2 victory in 1995) Bolton are definitely a tricky customer, and not one to be taken lightly, and certainly not at the Reebok...



Bolton Wanderers - Major Honours:

FA Cup Winners:
1923, 1926, 1929, 1958

Runner up: 1894, 1904, 1953

Division One Champions: 1997

Division Two Champions: 1909, 1978

Division Three Champions: 1973

Division One Play-off winners: 1995, 2001

League Cup Runner up: 1995, 2004



Some facts you might not know about The Wanderers…

They were involved in the first Wembley FA Cup final, which is also more famously known as ‘the white horse final’

The first Mexican to join an English team signed for Bolton this year (Jared Borgetti)

Their defeat against Fulham this season was their 100th in the Premiership

Bolton are the only team to have never been beaten in European competition

They have spent more time in the top flight since the league’s inception than out of it

The Reebok Stadium is the only British stadium to feature separate tunnels for home and away sides

The record transfer that they have recouped is £4.5m for Jason McAteer in September 1995, and their record spend is £3.5m for Dean Holdsworth from Wimbledon in October 1997

Nat Lofthouse is the club’s record league goal scorer with 255 between 1946 and 1961

To mark their 125th Anniversary the club created a ‘Hall of Fame’ for former players. Its members include Nat Lofthouse, Alec Finney, Warwick Rimmer, Doug Holden and Roy Greaves.
Bolton’s last six games:

WDDWLD

The 2-0 win at home to Arsenal at the beginning of that sequence is probably the more remarkable result, although the Trotters will not be happy to see chances of 3 points spurned at home to Aston Villa the following week thanks to conceding a late Angel goal, and also missing arguably the best chance of the game in their 0-0 against Sunderland in their most recent fixture on Boxing Day. Their only loss in the last six came against an impressive Wigan side in the League Cup (2-0) to go with a 1-1 draw with Sevilla to see them through to the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup, and an impressive 4-0 demolition of the mighty Everton. :)

The voice of the fans…

A few weeks ago when I got this assignment, I decided to have a meander around the internet and, through the wonder of Google, came across The Wanderer, which is a great little site with a thriving forum where I have found myself posting more and more. Some of our RAWKites are members there, and the passion and knowledge of the fans comes across immediately. Rather than just interview a couple of fans as per most Spyin’ Kop’s, I threw the gauntlet down to anyone who wanted to answer any of our questions, and the below is something of a mish-mash of the best that The Wanderer has to offer (along with a couple of inputs from RAWK’s resident Boltonian Interloper, Elli ;) ) The usernames have been kept to hide the true identity of the respondents :D




How is your season shaping up so far? And how does that compare to your pre-season expectations?

mummywhycantieatcrayons: Very nicely thanks. We've more than held our own in a tricky UEFA Cup group, especially for debutants like ourselves, and we don't appear to be 'doing an Ipswich' as a trade off for that moderate success. Before the season I was worried that we might be found out due to lack of cover at the back, and thought that getting into the knock-out stage of UEFA whilst maintaining a top-ten position would be a fantastic effort. So far, we've succeeded in doing that and we are well-placed in what looks like might be a close battle for the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places.

Harry Genshaw: Far better than I could have expected. 30 years of watching Bolton keeps telling me to prepare for disaster around the corner, yet Sam keeps surprising me and things just keep getting better.

Bruce Rioja: Very well, better than I'd expected. At the end of the day, and for all the Champions League aspirations of the Jonny come latelys, we are, a first division (or whatever it's now called) club riding a crest at the moment. Ultimately, the poor crowds will become poorer again as soon as we dip.

Gertie: Season is shaping up well so far, although I half expect another tricky spell similar to last December when we couldn’t win a game for toffee. All my pre-season expectations are every year is to get to 40 points as quickly as possible and then anything else is just for fun.

Elli: I'm absolutely amazed by our league performance. OK we had a couple of (fucking) lucky escapes and comebacks so far in Europe, but I seriously expected us to be in the bottom 10 by 4 or 5 weeks in. At this point I'd just like to record the fact that I went to my club's first ever European game, despite being a shite armchair/long distance fan most of the rest of the time. I can't honestly claim to have enjoyed all of it, as my texts to Col and J-P at half time bear witness ("we’re fucking shite!") but well, you know yourselves that you can turn things around in the second half... So back to the question – I’m impressed and surprised so far, but we’re only halfway through the season, not even that, and as I just said, lots can happen in the second half.

Nolan seems to have been getting his fair share of plaudits recently – has he been your best player this year?

Mofgimmers: Nope. Haim again. Awesome. Also, Kevin Davies has been another revelation!

stinkythefrog: Nolan has been superb this season . Personally I don't think there is a lot to choose between him, Jussi and Ben Haim in terms of quality but Nolan has the goals so gets the plaudits.

Elli: No, I don't think he's been the best - others are well worthy of mentions, such as Vaz Te, but he has been a huge driving force behind the team and is an excellent captain

Plodder: No, I don't think so. I think with his goals he is getting the headlines but for consistency look no further than our keeper. Jussi is performing very well.

Bruce Rioja: Best player is subjective. If you were to ask "Which player has upped their overall contribution the most?" then Nolan wins it hands down. Furthermore, he's grasped the concept of us needing more goals from midfield, he's also assumed the captaincy with the maturity of a much older man.

And who has disappointed?

Gravedigger: Only Jaidi comes to mind and only for the two howlers he made. The rest have good and bad days but you have to remember that it is the team as a whole who we have to judge performance on. No clear cut victim at this time of the season.

Harry Genshaw: Definitely Jay-Jay. He'll go down in Bolton folklore for what he's done in the past but its just not happening for him now.

Bench: I would say Stelios. He has been largely mediocre at best and has not hit the dizzy heights of his performances last season. Having said that it take him half a season to get into his (rather small) stride, so we may see (yet again) another Stelios come-January. Most people would say Okocha has been the most disappointing this season but I don't think that holds much water - sure, he hasn't performed anywhere near his best but he has done the job that Sam has asked of him. Not only that, but Okocha isn't as influential in our midfield as he once was and for that reason we haven't needed to rely on him. Stelios on the other hand is played almost week-in week-out, largely due to our formation, and has been peripheral at best.....

mummywhycantieatcrayons: It has to be Okocha doesn't it? The criticism of him by many Bolton fans is way out of proportion considering his vital contribution to our success in the last couple of seasons, but he does seems to be forever struggling for form these days.

We saw Vaz Te score a belting (and vital) goal for you away in Portugal a few weeks back. Is he the best young prospect at the Reebok, or are there others that we should be looking out for in months/years to come?

Mofgimmers: To be honest, I think Joey O'Brien has been our best prospect. Stepping up when required and becoming more and more a valuable asset to the first team. Vaz Te has been threatening for a while, but needs to sort his attitude out and starting pushing.

Nat_bwfc: It was a cracker, although my view was clouded by Super Bock! He is not the only young guy to be coming through - Joey O'Brien, our 19 year old Irish defender is cracking. He won academy player of the year last season and was not even in Sam's plans for this season, but due to Hunt breaking his leg he was forced to pick him and what a player! Fully came into his own in the game in Turkey and it will be hard for Hunt to find his way back into the team.

Elli: We don’t do young prospects mate, you’re confusing us with Spurs. We’re Bolton. 34 is plenty young enough thanks ;) Oh, but not Roy Keane. Come on we’ve got Diouf, surely that’s enough time in court?!

Soldier_of_the_white_army: I am a very keen watcher of our youth team and there is one player I hope continues to improve, and that is the young American lad Johann Smith. He is one of the fastest players I have ever seen and has massive amount of promise. He needs to learn one thing though and that is how to play with a team.

Obviously no team can be made up entirely by academy players, and so managers have to dabble in the transfer market. Big Sam seems quite adept at wheeling and dealing; who would you say was his best bit of business?

Mummywhycantieatcrayons: In terms of sheer impact on the club's philosophy and reputation, the signing of Youri Djorkaeff on a free cannot be surpassed. He was brilliant while he was here and encouraged other players to join the party. It is a great source of personal regret for me that Youri is not here to live out the European dream for Bolton Wanderers that he shared with us and did so much to set in motion.

SOTWA: I expect most people to say Youri, I on the other hand will go out on a limb and say Gardner. Out of all the signings our club has made he is the one player has and continues to justify the 1m we paid for him long ago. Along with Juusi he is our longest serving player who when asked to move to a position he had never played before did so with the minimum of fuss and to great effect. When in a few seasons time we are talking about how great Diouf, Speed and Bruno were, Gardner will still be bombing up and down that left flank. He may not be our best player, but good business goes, I believe this to be Sam best.

Super Kevin Davies: Jay-Jay Okocha. Yes he no longer shines as brightly as he used to do, but he was one of the first big names, he believed in Sam and his vision for BWFC, and he was the catalyst that has made us what we are today. We owe a lot to Jay-Jay, I hope Bolton fans do not forget that!

One link between our two sides, apart from the M62, is a certain Mr. E Diouf. What do you make of him as a player, and as a man?

SOTWA: Player: Fantastic

Man: Tit

Bench: I don't bother reading the Media in terms of which player has disgraced themselves this week - whether it be Keane, Rooney or our man Diouf. I don't pay my money to see them become good public servants (although their elevated public status is a gift, not something that is deserved and they should be mindful of this in their actions) - I pay my money to watch good football.

And that's what Diouf is - a good and talented footballer. Say what you like about the man, but as a footballer – well…you lot lost out on that one…

Bruce Rioja: A superb footballer, bought as a forward but played as a winger by Houllier. On the field he doesn't do himself any favours. He gets constantly fouled, but because he goes to ground so easily will always be the boy that cried wolf. I've met him a couple of times and he has been nothing other than a perfect gentleman. A better PR agency might be a good idea.

Bolton get labelled as a bit of a ‘foreign legion’, but what is your opinion on the large Spanish influx at Liverpool under Benitez, and the foreign player debate as a whole?

mummywhycantieatcrayons: It's a complete non-debate for me. A manager should play the best eleven he can get his hands on and is under no moral obligation to play players from the Uk or anywhere else. Clearly, Benitez knows the Spanish game and you might say he has made it work OK in his relatively short time at the club. Still not sure about Crouchy though. ;)

Gertie: I understand why Benitez brought in players he knows and can work with and he also has a strong Liverpool influence with Steven Gerrard and Jamie Carragher so no real trauma there. Some of the Spanish players are quite hot so that’s good! I also like the song that Liverpool sing to all the Spanish players names to the tune of La Bamba.

I get soooo wound up about the Foreign Merceneries tag that Bolton gets labelled with, like we’re the only team in the world to have brought in foreign players. We do supplement that with good home grown players: the 2 Kevins, Nicky Hunt, etc. It just is lazy journalism at the moment. Plus it’s exciting seeing the likes of Ivan Campo and JJ Okocka in a Bolton Shirt.

Plodder: I do believe it is diluting the "grass roots" football production of English players in English leagues. But all the teams have foreign players in differing numbers and the costs involved in bringing in say an English player from League One (or whatever it is called now) is far in excess of recruiting equally skilled foreign talent. A club that has a manager from a certain nation is proven to have the pulling power on his compatriots, just like Arsene at Highbury with Petit and Vieira and Henry all coming in under him. The fact that Benitez has had a similar influence is also good for the league. But he is not after all just about Spanish players. He did spend £7m on Crouch after all :D

What are your best and worst memories as a Wanderer?

SOTWA: One thing no one can ever take from us is the fact that it is never boring being a Wanderer. Be it either Promotion, relegation, Europe or in the cups. The best moment for me was avoiding relagation from the Premiership for the first time. It was the big change for our club and allowed us to get a foothold in the Premiership which helped to push us onwards and upwards.

The worst? Wow there are so many. Losing the Carling cup to your lot, multiple relegations, losing the play off final to Watford etc, but the one that sticks in my mind was Dean Holdworth's balloon shot against Villa in the F.A cup semi final. We missed playing the very last F.A cup final at Wembley that year because of that, and having won the very first one winning the last would have would have made history.

Harry Genshaw: Best: The play off win V Reading in 1995. A game that summed up life as a Bolton fan.

Worst: Relegation to the 4th division after Aldershot beat us in the play offs in 1987. Any time I gripe about someone or something wrong with todays team, I need only look back to that day to gain a little perspective.

Mofgimmers: I think everyone is going to say this, but the best day to be a Trotter was beating Reading in the play offs. Incredible. Worst? When the Mancs beat us 6-0 at Burnden.

Elli: For the worst, I just need to pick any 5 minutes at random from the Colin Todd era. The best two were 1) the realisation we’d made it to our first season in Europe and subsequently 2) getting up the steps into the stadium with my mate Alex (who then left early, fucking idiot) the night of the Plovdiv match.

Any particular memories of games against the Reds?

SOTWA: The 2-2 draw at Burnden park in the F.A cup. Andy Walkers header and Alan Thompson (I think) slotting one past the keeper. That was a great game.

Bruce Rioja: Yeah, You lot pulling it back to 2-2 at Burnden in the third round in Jan 92. It was the day after my Grandad died and I honestly thought that he was looking down on us as we went 2 up by half time. Guess the old boy was saving it for the replay at your place!

Plodder: A certain 5-2 humping at Anfield back in 1995 I think. :( Or a 3-2 win in the league cup :D Going on history and previous form, it doesn't look good for the Whites.

Gertie: The goal that Dean Holdsworth scored in our first season back to the prem and it got that Sander Westerveld sacked. I was sat next to a bunch of scousers who were in our end and I won £6 from them betting on first scorer I had Ricketts and they had Fowler, then we went for a fiver on the result and bingo up pops Deano!! The lads handed over their money which was decent of them.

I also sat in the Liverpool end when we beat you in the Carling Cup with my friends who are massive Liverpool fans. That was my first game at Anfield and it killed me not to jump up and celebrate when Youri slotted home the penalty!

Every team gets their fair share of a kicking from the press, be it due to lack of goals, unambitious play, foreign players – what’s the biggest mis-conception about Bolton, in your opinion?

Mummywhycantieatcrayons: They see us as being one dimensional and crude but in reality we mix things up as much as anybody else, which is why we are difficult to beat. However, most of what they say about us is actually accurate, even if it is often with an unnecessary degree of spite. The biggest misconception of all is that employing foreign players over the age of thirty is, in itself, a morally reprehensible thing to do.

Super Kevin Davies: Two words - 'Long ball' - what a load of tosh! We can play it direct, as can every other team in the country, yes Mr.Mourinho, your blues are the worst culprits you hypocrit! But we can play it on the ground, look at the team we have, how can half of those players only ever play long ball?!

Bruce Rioja: We only play long ball!

Mofgimmers: That we only play long ball.

Two words: best ever player to pull on the white shirt?

Mofgimmers, mummywhycantieatcrayons, Bench, Harry Genshaw, Bruce Rioja, Gertie, Super Kevin Davies: Youri Djorkaeff

SOTWA: Nat Lofthouse

Gravedigger: Gudni Bergsson

Plodder: Djorkaeff/Hierro

stinkythefrog: Jay-Jay Okocha

Nat_bwfc: Fernando Hierro

Two words: favourite ever player to pull on the white shirt?

Mofgimmers: Well, it's 3... Fabian De Freitas

mummywhycantieatcrayons: Youri Djorkaeff

SOTWA, Harry Genshaw: John McGinley

Bench, Plodder: Gudni Bergsson

Gravedigger: Nat Lofthouse

Bruce Rioja: Frank Worthington

Gertie: Nobby Nolan

stinkythefrog: Andy Walker

Super Kevin Davies: Kevin Davies

Nat_bwfc: Jay-Jay Okocha

Something I’ve noticed on your site is the ‘Knight Nat’ campaign. Care to fill us in on what it is, how it started, and where it’s going?

Bench:

Something we started some time ago. A thread was started discussing whether Bolton Wanderers should honour the contribution of its longest servant, Nat Lofthouse, with a statue:
Quote
This was met with mixed reactions and after discussion with other contributors to the site we have taken a long look at the situation and decided that it’s about time Nat received the ultimate accolade - The Knighthood.

This appears to be quite an extreme suggestion. How on Earth could a group of Bolton fans possibly get someone to be made a Knight Of The Realm? The answer is pressure. And that is where you guys come in. Before all that, let’s have a look at what makes Nat such a hero in this town.

http://www.thewanderer.co.uk/content.php?content=feature&id=114

Above is an extract from the Knight in White Satin? Campaign . And it’s not just for Bolton fans. It’s for any fan who would like to see a local hero honoured the way in that he fully deserves. Don't forget - he wasn't just a Bolton player. He was the Lion of Vienna - a true England great, and one of the few who have never been honoured with a knighthood, like so many of his contemporaries...

At some point in the near future it seems that we shall get our ‘new’ Anfield. What did you make of your relocation from Burnden Park, and do you feel ‘at home’ in your new gaff? What can Liverpool fans expect when we have to shift stadium?

Mofgimmers: It's difficult. Like sleeping in a new bed. It takes a while to get used to it and you start to get all dewy eyed about the old place. However, progress is progress and to be honest, The Reebok is one of the best things that's happened to BWFC.

Plodder: Like losing a favourite uncle. But getting a new nephew. Both much loved but completely different. Definitely needed, but sorely missed. I still don't feel the same affection for the white metal crab as I did for Burnden Paddock

stinkythefrog: Slightly different for us in that Burnden was a real dump. Anfield isnt great these days but still streets ahead of Burnden . I love the new stadium as I take my 8 year old which would have been a nightmare at Burnden with the terraces. You do feel strange and uprooted almost like you're at an away match for a while but it doesn't last long.

mummywhycantieatcrayons: Obviously I have some great memories as that's where I have my first memories of the Whites, on the terraces with my dad. But the fact remains that all businesses have to move on, and a crumbling old ground with a supermaket at one end was not suitable for a modern club, especially one playing in the Premiership with European ambitions. The Reebok is fine stadium and you learn to love it very quickly, even if the atmosphere isn't quite what it used to be. I'm when Liverpool eventually get the new stadium it will be very impressive and people will soon get used to it, even if Anfield always retains a special place in their hearts.

Moving on from the atmosphere, are there any songs that we should listen out for when we come down to the Reebok? Any favourites?

Mofgimmers: The old favourites... 'SIIIIGN ON, SIIIGN ON...' and the classic 'El Hadji Diouf will spit on you'

Harry Genshaw: Its unlikely to be anything original i'm afraid.

Gravedigger: You're a long haired tosser from Liverpool.

mummywhycantieatcrayons: We're not known for our variation when it comes to chants. We just have to pray that people don't break out into 'Easy! Easy! Easy!' and you can, of course, expect the traditional 'Sign on, sign on'.

Hopefully there'll be cause to sing 'Nolan for England!'.

And finally, any predictions for the game?

mummywhycantieatcrayons: Yeah, we'll beat you. Probably by one goal.

Nat_bwfc: The Reebok is becoming a fortress... 2-0 to Bolton.

Super Kevin Davies: Crouch has always caused us problems at the million different clubs he has played for against us, so I think he will give you an edge. I'd be expecting a loss to be quite honest, but I'd be happy with a draw. So 1-1 (Crouch and Nolan to score).

Plodder: A very tight 0-0. Maybe a sneaky 1-0 to Bolton at the Fortress Reebok. From a set-piece of course. :D


Many thanks to everyone at The Wanderer for taking their time to answer the questions and for helping me with some of the research for this. If I could ask people from RAWK to take a look at the 'Knight Nat' campaign (links above, and also on the main site of The Wanderer) as I'm sure all help would be appreciated. The online petition recently reached 1,000 signatures, and good luck to those involved with that. I'll see you back on the forums sometime in the new year.

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