My name is Dennis and I have recently been added to the roster here at Lion of Vienna Suite. Just in time for FA Cup weekend.
Given that timing, I thought it would be apropos to tell the story of my first FA Cup run as a Bolton Wanderers supporter. It began in 1999. I arrived in Lancashire at just about the same time Big Sam did. I went to Uni in Bolton, and when I arrived I was not a follower of the beautiful game. When Wanderers defeated Cardiff in front of 6,000 loyal fans in mid-December, I only knew it the next day through the headlines of the Bolton Evening News (Horror Crash Terror!).
In mid-January we beat Grimsby in the 4th round, and some Icelandic guy was scoring a lot of goals, so I finally started to take notice. My first visit to the Reebok soon followed. The last weekend of January we dismissed Cambridge United away from home. It was at this point I bought my first Bolton shirt.
The next FA Cup match was against Charlton, and I saw my first Eidur Gudjohnsen goal. 20K people were there, and the Reebok was rockin’. We had booked our ticket to Wembley. People all over town were wearing their Bolton shirts with pride. "I’m backing Bolton" badges popped up around the centre.
I couldn’t get to Wembley though. I was stranded in, of all places, Birmingham. Birmingham! The second city, home to, that’s right, Aston Villa, Bolton’s opponent in the FA Cup semifinal. I watched in a pub, quietly. That is, until Gudjohnsen skipped past two defenders, got into the penalty box, and cut it back beautifully for an onrushing Dean Holdsworth. As I rose up from my seat and roared my approval, Deano put it over the bar. And about 20 Villa supporters noticed I was in the bar. Let’s just call my exit strategic.
I attempted to find another place to watch the remainder of the match, but this was a different time. There was not a 50-inch HDTV in every pub. In fact, most pubs had no TV at all. Alas, the mighty Wanderers had been defeated. My first FA Cup run was over. But my obsession with the Bolton Wanderers Football Club had just begun.
Until recently, I expressed that obsession for a blog called Musings, also about the Famous Bolton Wanderers, but with occasional digressions into other sports and events. If you would like to check out some of my past writings, including an intense and well-documented hatred of Paul Robinson, you can look there. Also, if you want to follow me on Twitter, because 2 articles a week just aren’t enough, you can find me @dennisrchase.