Whites players should feel embarrassed, says Bolton Wanderers old boy Alan Gowling

The Bolton News: Alan Gowling Alan Gowling

IT may be more than 30 years ago but former Wanderer Alan Gowling still recalls the fateful day the last time the Whites were hit for seven goals.

Saturday’s 7-1 humbling at Reading for the class of 2014 brought it all back to Gowling who was in the side managed by George Mulhall that fell foul of the infamous plastic pitch at Loftus Road and lost by the same scoreline in May 1982.

The weekend defeat – the heaviest since that QPR hammering – left boss Dougie Freedman shell-shocked and captain Jay Spearing apoligising to the travelling Whites fans.

And Gowling said the 1982 side had exactly the same feelings of embarrassment.

He told The Bolton News: “It was a nightmare and a total embarrassment.

“We got hammered and let the fans down and did ourselves no favours in the process.

“We were not a bad side – we had players like Peter Reid in there.

“But we did not come to terms with the artificial pitch at QPR at all.

“We played more like Torvill and Dean; we couldn’t get the right footwear and it was all new to us.

“We still should not have been beaten seven, though.

“It has taken me 30 years to forget it but the weekend brought it all flooding back.”

Gowling, who spent four years with Wanderers, said the current crop of players should feel just as embarrassed and need to put it right straight away when they host Cardiff City at the Reebok Stadium in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

“We just wanted to get it out of our system quickly and that’s what this side will want,” Gowling added.

“I was shocked when I saw the result from the Madejski and really disappointed.

“The players need to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they are doing their best because no-one comes out of a result like that with any credit.

“Dougie Freedman will get some flak but once those players step over the white line at 3pm, the control moves into their hands and it is about having the right attitude out there.

“There will probably be some soul searching this week but they must look to Cardiff and focus on that.

“It is a tough game for them on Saturday but having that challenge may well work in their favour – I certainly hope that it does.”

Gowling and his team-mates responded in 1982 by ending the Division Two campaign with back-to-back home wins.

They beat Derby County 3-2 and Sheffield Wednesday 3-1 – the forward scoring on the final day against the Owls. Historically, Wanderers have often responded in the right way to heavy defeats.

After the 5-0 humiliation against Stoke City at Wembley in the 2011 FA Cup semi-final, Wanderers went on to beat Arsenal 2-1 at the Reebok in their next outing a week later.

In the 1935/36 season, a crushing 7-0 reverse at Manchester City was followed up by a 3-0 home win against Leeds and four years earlier, a 7-1 thumping at Sheffield Wednesday was forgotten inside four days when Charles Foweraker’s side beat Grimsby Town 5-3 at Burnden Park.

In 1950/51, it took just two days to erase a 7-1 defeat at Wolves from the memory banks when the Whites beat Chelsea 1-0 at home on September 4.

However, in 1889/90 campaign, it worked the other way round.

After scoring seven in successive matches against Derby (7-1) and West Brom (7-0) on home soil, Wanderers lost the very next match 7-1 at Blackburn. They also lost 7-0 at Burnley later that same season.

Freedman and co will settle for a win of any kind on Saturday to consign the Reading result to the history books.

But Gowling agrees with the Scot that new faces are needed and quickly.

He said: “I heard Dougie say many of his players are not good enough after Saturday’s defeat and the results back that up this season.

“While no-one saw a 7-1 defeat coming, it has been a disappointing season so far.

“I agree he needs fresh faces but he has the problem of there not being a lot of money at the club and having to work on a tight budget.

“He has stated the need to ship players out but I can’t see anyone knocking on the door for any players – not just after Saturday but on the season as a whole.

“It’s tough at the minute but the priority this week is getting the right response from his players.”

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