It's not often any Bolton Wanderers fan will admit to needing anything from Wigan Athletic. They're a shithouse, tinpot club that fluked an FA Cup win and haven't shut up about it since. Oh, and don't even get me started on Dave Whelan and his broken leg.
However, the times are-a-changin’, and come 2017 I think it's high time we buried the hatchet and did all we can to thank Wigan fans, particularly if (and when) we win the league. The reason for that, ladies and gents, is Mr Andrew Taylor.
Born in August 1986 in Hartlepool, Taylor made his mark at Middlesbrough in the early part of his career. He was part of the side that famously beat Manchester City 8-1 on the final day of the 2006/2007 Premier League season. He's also represented England at every level from U16s to U21s.
After spending time on loan at Bradford City and Watford, Taylor left Boro in 2011 with 125 appearances and Premier League experience under his belt. He eventually landed at Cardiff City, where he made 103 appearances before moving to Wigan in the summer of 2014. He then spent the entirety of last season on loan at Reading, before heading back to the north west in 2016 and settling at the mighty Bolton Wanderers.
You’re probably wondering why I’m babbling on about our 30-year-old left back’s career history. Well, it’s because I think he’s fucking awesome, even more so after our dreary win over Shrewsbury Town.
I used to like Dean Moxey; I thought he was a decent attacking threat, if slightly shaky defensively, and my opinion was confirmed when Neil Lennon played him at wing-back on numerous occasions. What Moxey lacks, however, is the intelligence of someone like Andrew Taylor. Our loanee from down the road has bags of experience, is calm under pressure, comfortable on the ball and most importantly; he can defend. I slated his crossing earlier in the season but even that has finally improved - he's slowly becoming a consistent performer for the Whites, and I couldn't be happier. He was one of the best players on the pitch against Shrewsbury and I don't think he receives enough credit for the work he does.
The one downfall of being a cash-strapped big club in a lower league is that you have to scrimp and save wherever you can - one way Wanderers did this by signing loan players and free agents this summer. It's all well and good them performing whilst they’re at the club, but what happens when we get promoted and they have to leave? I’ll tell you what - we’re right back to square one: stuck in the Championship with a bang average squad and not enough committed players to compete at that level.
I hope those behind the scenes are working on securing the services of our successful loanees (Andrew Taylor, Tom Thorpe and, dare I say, Sammy Ameobi) beyond their pre-agreed terms. Should they leave when they’re supposed to, we’re going to have some pretty big shoes to fill.
So, when we get promoted in 2017, we all have Wigan Athletic to thank. They've gifted us a gem that we should treasure forever.