Bolton Wanderers winger Rob Hall was 'hurt' seeing Leicester City fans celebrate at the Reebok Stadium
AS the away dressing room vibrated with the bass from a deafening stereo and joyous chants of “championes,” it was an entirely more sombre situation some 30 yards down the corridor.
Wanderers had played host to the title party nine years ago when Chelsea claimed the silverware with two games to spare – but Sam Allardyce’s side could at least console themselves with the fact they still had Europe to aim for; a target they achieved with a draw at Portsmouth a week later.
This time there was a lot less pomp and circumstance, Nigel Pearson’s Leicester parading their trophy in front of around 1,000 travelling Foxes fans and a handful of chosen media.
Wanderers sloped respectfully off the pitch to allow their visitors to enjoy the night – their season had ended some weeks earlier once survival was confirmed.
Then Rob Hall summed up what it was like to be a guest at someone else’s party following the 1-0 defeat that confirmed the Foxes as champions.
“It’s horrible,” he said. “We wanted to win the game, of course we did, so to see their fans so happy hurts.
“I don’t really care about Leicester, I wanted to make sure our fans are happy.
“Hopefully they are okay with the performance we put in. We want to push forward as Bolton Wanderers, we shouldn’t care about any other teams.”
Hall is perhaps in a minority among the Whites camp in that he is in no rush to see the season end.
The young winger has featured in the last three games, something of a rarity for him in the second half of the campaign.
“We’re not really playing for a lot but there are lads who are getting into the team right now who are itching to just play football, myself included,” he said.
“That’s all I want to do. I’m getting in a couple of teams now and it’s a bit annoying that the season is coming to an end.”
Hall exploded onto the scene with a goal against Shrewsbury Town in the Captial One Cup but has found himself marginalised for long spells, much to the chagrin of the Wanderers support.
The ex-West Ham trainee is pragmatic about his spells out of the reckoning, reasoning that it was done with his longer-term improvement in mind.
“My season started well but then the middle part I was out of the team,” he said. “I think that was the stage where the gaffer really wanted me to work hard behind the scenes and really draw me into the style of play he wants from me. Maybe it took me a bit longer to adjust than he expected, I don’t know, but the season is ending strongly and I feel good.
“I feel like I’m improving and more importantly, the team is improving. I hope we can keep pushing and try to win the last two games of the season to take it into the next one.”
Tuesday night’s hero was Lloyd Dyer, a jet-heeled winger who has been a constant thorn in Wanderers’ side since they dropped down into the Championship.
The Leicester wide man has 11 years on Hall – but the 20-year-old Wanderers prospect was quick to acknowledge his wonder strike that settled the game.
“He doesn’t look 30-plus and he certainly doesn’t move like it,” he said. “He’s a good player and I’ve played against him twice now – I back my own pace against anyone but he’s a really quick lad.
“I was saying to one of the lads in the dressing room that I’ve never seen him come in on his right foot, let alone hit one in the top corner. Credit to him, that’s what wins you games. You need people to step off the bench and that’s why Leicester are champions.”