When I was roughly seven years old, my grandad and I disturbed the resting place of a baby mole. It looked like an enlarged jelly baby (minus the icing sugar). At first, the mole pup seemed dead, however the odd jerk of movement or shiver from the cold November air suggested there was life in the little blighter still.
Grandad and I shared a look - yes, it was alive, but barely. It's life on this earth was coming to a gradual and painful end. "This is a timely reminder of the futility of all existence", grandad's eyes seemed to say. It was at that point, as we swaddled the pup in hand towels, that Football League chairman Greg Clarke took our refugee mammal and with a Tony Yeboah left foot volley, acquainted our newborn buddy with the brick wall of the garage.
At 19, I saw a man savagely beaten on Nelson Square. As his head hit the cobbled street, one of his many assailants turned to his friends, begging them to stop. "We've got free shot vouchers for J2 that run out at midnight. He's had enough". As logic battled with Jägermeister in their minds, they decided that the sweet nectar of apple spurs would bring more joy than another jab to the already defeated victim's body.
As the victim stumbled to his feet, tasting the blood congealing in his mouth and digesting the throbbing pain accumulating in his ribs, an ambulance was called. Onlookers rushed to his aid, offering condolences and a fag. At this point, Greg Clarke stepped out of a Hackney carriage and delivered three swift roundhouse kicks, rendering the man unconscious.
Last Thursday, Greg Clarke approached a homeless man. "Hungry?". The question didn't need an answer. Clarke stroked the man's Staffordshire Terrier, tickling behind its ear. He reached into his bag, and revealed an All Day Breakfast sandwich, squatted next to the man, and ripped it open. Clarke took a liberal bite, attempting to achieve the desired ratio of sausage:bacon:egg. "Mmmm, delicious". Clarke ate the lot, aside from the crusts, which he threw at some nearby pigeons. He took a £10 note from his pocket, and used it to wipe the crumbs from the corners of his mouth. He located the telephone number of the Co-Operative helpline on the sandwich packaging, declaring himself thoroughly satisfied with the product he had purchased. He patted the vagrant on the head, and left.
All three of those metaphors are based on true stories (I'm guessing). The Football League in its transfer embargo has done its level best to punish Bolton Wanderers beyond short term repair. Any hopes of a miraculous journey to safety have been thwarted by the news that we cannot sign any new playing staff; hardly a punishment as the club cannot pay its existing staff. Of course, our financial situation means that players will have to leave in January. Who will make the Wanderers team by the end of the season will be the result of who is left, rather than who is best. And to think, we laughed at Blackpool.
Well, I certainly did.
A transfer embargo makes little to no difference to the club - we are all but relegated already, and the money was not available for new signings under the incumbent ownership anyway. This is a punishment for a football club that has already punished itself.
A message for Greg Clarke and all at the Football League: punish us all you want, we've already been punished enough by our own. As fans, we'll be there in League One, League Two, North West Counties or Bolton Sunday League. The Championship wants to see the back of us, and the feeling is mutual.
Eat, drink, be merry, and avoid thinking about Bolton Wanderers like the plague. If you're one of the 1,600 Wanderers going to Rotherham, show the Football League that regardless of its actions, they can't impact upon a club's most important institution: the fans.