Bolton Wanderers defeat at Reading was a car crash on what has often been a rocky road

The Bolton News: The back page of The Bolton News following the Reading defeat The back page of The Bolton News following the Reading defeat

LAST weekend’s worst defeat for nearly 32 years was a watershed moment for Wanderers.

Here, Craig Hall from Bromley Cross, a Bolton fan for 40 years, gives his perspective on that result

 

AH the Wanderers. For so, so long they were the reason for smiling and, possibly more likely, for frowning.

A bad result on a Saturday could lead to a weekend of depression or an overwhelming high. Family and friends would spend time with me or avoid me based on the score.

I first went to Burnden Park in 1976-ish. In those days it was with my dad and my fishing stool – a little something for me to stand on to help me see over the fence.

The games were few and far between then and it wasn’t until the 1985/86 season that they became a regular thing.

I went from 0 to 100 per cent in no time, and that was me – dedicated to BWFC.

The early years were mainly a struggle, but it didn’t seem to matter a great deal.

Yes, there were some dire times in the bottom division and on the way down to it, but expectations were low.

The Fourth Division saw a clearout of the dead wood and the club began a revival. Slowly, at first, and then it started to gain momentum.

Eventually, as all will know, that culminated in promotion to the Premier League and a move to The Reebok.

I think that pretty much is where it all started to go wrong for me.

I’m a traditionalist and I don’t much like change. That is not to say I didn’t understand the logical reasons for moving from Burnden Park, but the swanky new ground always feels a bit soulless.

We have never really found our voice there, and now after all these years I suspect anyone under 30 knows the words to hardly any songs – just a few repetitive chants to the accompaniment of a big bass drum.

The TV money has killed the game. When you see how much income the clubs take at the gate compared to other streams of income, they could pretty much let everyone in for free without it having a detrimental effect.

In fact the grounds would be full and the overall product better.

Clubs chase the dream. They spend what they don’t have to sign players who are represented by agents. All are lining their pockets and killing the game.

Monday night’s back page of The Bolton News was brought about by the worst defeat in 32 years – a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Reading.

It had been coming and it set me off wondering about previous defeats that stay in my mind.

The 6-0 thrashing at home to Man United in the Premier League; 5-0 at Wembley against Stoke and the 2-0 play-off final defeat to Watford.

So where do they go from here? £163.8million debt – irrespective of who they owe the money to – £28m of that in the last 12 months.

Even if they can reverse the trend and show a small profit of say £2m it would take 80-odd years to clear the debt, and that assumes no interest.

The latest accounts just don’t feel right. I can’t help feeling we are setting ourselves up for administration and starting again.

It won’t be painless, but I reckon it might just beat 80 years of having nothing at all.

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