Fan’s View 23/24 – No.42: Bolton away

Article by Paul Beasley Wednesday, March 13th, 2024  


Bolton Wanderers 5 Oxford United 0

It’s just not worth wasting much time on this. I was dropped back at home a bit gone 1:00 am and I was tempted to grab a whisky and bang out this FV there and then. I decided against because the prospect was just too depressing and I’d likely have used every swear word known to mankind.

I’m not even bothering watching replays to look for any crumb of comfort because there won’t be any. This morning Mrs FV informed me that even my normally placid son was shouting at the TV as they suffered in the comfort of our home. That says all I need to know.

Just think what those of us who travelled up north to support our team went through. Yes, that’s SUPPORT. We deserved something at the end of it. We got nothing. Worse than nothing. Wasted time and money. The cost of getting into a football ground and travelling around the country isn’t cheap.

It was embarrassing. It was humiliating. I hate it having to sit there slumped in our seats close to the crowing home fans. We had to take it, we had nothing to give back. Giving nothing was what the team did.

Bolton who, let’s not forget, had only won five points from their previous five games, were all over us from first to last.

We didn’t have one shot on target. Bolton had eight and five of those went in. Could easily have been more. We had only 36% possession. Really, that high? And I can’t recall us doing anything meaningful with the ball when we had it. We certainly were incapable of keeping it and creating anything resembling attractive football with a good chance on the end of it.

We were clueless, rudderless, second best at everything.

I’ve been watching the yellows for a very long time and this ranks as one of the worst ever performances they’ve put in.

There are no excuses. We’ve got a budget that is a very competitive one. Colin B informed us in the last FV that in 2021/22 we had the 6th highest wage bill in L1 and we know this has not been cut back last season or this. Colin has also previously told us that Bolton’s expenditure “isn’t crazy, as one would expect from a club that nearly went under, and their cost of sale (wages) was seventh of the 17 clubs that report the figure at just over £8m.” Yet some people have it in their heads that clubs like Bolton, with a much larger fan base than ours and with a much bigger and better ground than ours, spend way more on wages than we do.

Then there’s the “you have to give a manager time” argument. Yes, but yawn. Stick your head deeper and deeper into the sand why don’t you. Whenever a new manager/head coach comes into a club they obviously inherit a playing squad. They never start from scratch.

We’ve got some talented players at the club but they’re not remotely showing it. It seems lessons are never learned.

We only played for a few minutes at the end of each half against an awful Cheltenham side. We came to the Toughsheet Community Stadium and did not play at all.

There’s something radically wrong. Des Buckingham may be a nice bloke but all the evidence thus far points to him being way out of his depth. If he were to turn things around and get us into the top six I’d rank that a bigger miracle than Leicester winning the Premier League in 2016.

Thankfully we’ve got enough points already to have no worries about the drop but if he’s still in charge for next season that trap door would be a massive concern for me.

I can write what I want here, within reason and have to say that I feel sorry for Martin Brodetsky who has been tasked with penning the match reports on the club’s official site now that Chris Williams has moved on to pastures new. “Heaviest defeat of the season”. Bolton “creating chance after chance”. “Despondent Us.”  What does that tell you?

222 of us were there. There was a lot less than that number at the end. Even I had said to the driver with a quarter of an hour to go that I’d be happy to leave. I have never said that before but I wanted out of there.

We did though stay until we were finally put out of our misery. And then, unbelievably, a good number of our remaining fans clapped the players. I know I’ll likely get criticised for this because I have done in the past, but really! What is that all about? “They don’t mean to play badly”. How about meaning to play well? “They try hard”. Not as hard as Bolton.

I keep saying I’m grateful to our owners for their financing of the club and the progress being made on moving to the Triangle and I really am but from wherever they live in the world do they have any idea what we, the fans, are going through on a night like this in Horwich?

I have no positives whatsoever to report about the football.

Hardly a saving grace but the Horwich pubs far from disappointed. Various drinking establishments become familiar territory when we play many of the same teams regularly although a bout of covid put paid to my Bolton trip last season.

The Crown is a good starting point with its ample car-parking spaces; vehicle registration needing to be tapped in on entering the pub. Plenty of Joseph Holt beers to choose from with other local brews on offer too. It does, as my mate said, have a bit of a Hungry Horse feel about it but I won’t hold that against it. Very northern prices and good value food.

Just around the corner the Brewery Bar above the Blackedge brewery was again deserving of top beer marks. The manager’s knowledge of the brews available helped with our choices. Blueberry flavoured beer, really? Excellent actually as it was not overpowering.

Then finally onto a new one for us: B33R@33. It’s only been going for a couple of years, converted from an old shop unit by some local beer enthusiasts and the quality of the ale matched that in the Brewery Bar.

Then it all went downhill.

A few of the 222
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