So it seems inevitable now that our four year stay in the Championship is over. It’s been a tough few years for the club, no one reading this needs telling that. But that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been good days along the way and here are my top five.
Bolton Wanderers 4-1 Hull City: 23rd February 2013
I remember being encamped in the corner of a sports bar in Exeter for a solid day of Six Nations rugby and of course a lot of drinking on this day. Playing a Hull City side aggressively chasing promotion to the Premier League I for one did not expect much out of this game but how wrong could I have been? Very, very wrong.
Bolton Wanderers came racing out of the traps faster than a particularly eager hound to go 3-0 up within the first eight minutes of this encounter. Darren Pratley did something good for once heading in Lee Chung-yong’s cross to put Bolton one up after just one minute. Then Mark Davies also decided to do something useful rather than passing the ball backwards as he fired Bolton into a 2-0 lead with just over four and a half minutes on the clock.
Then we seemed to have to wait an age for the next goal when West Bromwich Albion loanee Craig Dawson headed home after seven and a half minutes.
Hull’s Robbie Brady netted a free-kick to make it 3-1 but of course the mighty Wanderers were not finished yet. Dawson once again was on target as Bolton restored their commanding three goal advantage.
Others amongst the Bolton squad that day were Adam Bogdan, Chris Eagles and Marcos Alonso. How I miss those days.
That win put us four games unbeaten and set the tone for a run at the play-offs which would ultimately end in heartbreak on the last day of the season because of some team called Leicester City who are apparently a big deal at the moment.
Leeds United 1-5 Bolton Wanderers: 8th March 2014
I believe this was Bolton’s largest ever win at Elland Road and apparently was the first game at Leeds’ home ground since they beat Huddersfield Town by the same score line.
Unlike my previous offering it took Bolton a little while to find the back of the net in this encounter. Joe Mason was on hand at the end of the first half to slot Bolton into a 1-0 lead. Then a second half to forget if you’re of a Leeds persuasion unfolded.
First Middlesborough loanee Lukas Jutkiewicz headed home a Jay Spearing cross to double the visitors lead. Then a shot from Zat Knight put Bolton three up (amazing I know) with Davies heading home the fourth 20 minutes later.
Dougie Freedman’s thoughtful gift to the Bolton faithful Andre Moritz added the cherry on the cake for Bolton with the fifth goal of a remarkable afternoon. Matt Smith headed home the second most pointless consolation goal of the season after David N’Gog’s against Reading in a certain 7-1 loss.
It is so nice to remember that once upon a time Bolton were able to win on the road, not only that but five goals from eight shots on target is somewhat better than what the current crop can do.
Relive this match below, you know you want to;
Bolton Wanderers 2-1 Blackburn Rovers: 26 December 2014
I enjoyed this one. This game boasted the best atmosphere I have experienced since Bolton dropped out of the top flight. Over 20,000 people turned up to this Boxing Day derby and the Bolton fans in attendance were not let down at all.
Blackburn had the better of the first half and in all honesty were unlucky not to go into the break more than one goal up, well I say unlucky it’s their own fault if they want to miss at least two guilt edge opportunities. They did though go into the break one to the good thanks to a Joshua King goal just before half time.
Half time came and Bolton played the ultimate trump card. Some would say it is cheating, after all he does have more Premier League goals and England caps than Lionel Messi and Neymar combined. The legend who is Emile Heskey emerged from the bench I think much to everyone’s amusement, and certainly (as we all know) to Paddy McGuinness’.
If @EmileHeskeyUK comes off the bench today and scores for us I'll personally clean his boots! C'mon Bolton!!!! pic.twitter.com/337PJmBV8w— Paddy McGuinness (@PaddyMcGuinness) December 26, 2014
Bolton would of course go on to score the most unlikely goal. The Iceman Eidur Gudjohnsen played a beautiful ball with the outside of his boot, just another day in the office for him. It went across the penalty area and connected with Heskey’s boot. I for one expected it to hurt some poor Blackburn fans face but low and behold it hit the back of the net and Bolton were level.
Suddenly the home side were very much in the ascendency and just a few minutes later Pratley put the winner into the back of the Blackburn net. That was by no means the end of this match. Blackburn came oh so close to a late equaliser with multiple goal line scrambles in the closing stages but Bolton held on (oh those were the days) to see out a wonderful win.
After that match Neil Lennon made this declaration about Ivanhoe;
"Heskey was awesome when he came on"
And no one laughed.
I know what you’re thinking. It would be wrong not to watch the highlights of this again. I agree so here we go;
Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Bristol City: 20th October 2012
This may seem like an odd one, but being from Bristol this gave me the bragging rights I was craving. Not only that but it was a wonderful comeback win to kick start the post-Owen Coyle era.
City took a two goal lead thanks to a volley and a penalty from Steven Davies. It seemed like they should be home and dry but we all know too well what teams destined for League One do in these situations, throw it away.
That is exactly what City did and Eagles was the man to get the comeback underway with a good free-kick. Spearing then popped up with an equaliser before Martin Petrov scored a fantastic winner.
Oh how I wish that Jimmy Phillips could have repeated this feat this season. But this is meant to be upbeat so let’s leave that thought there.
All the goals from that game are in this golden goals video;
Bolton 1-2 Liverpool: 4th February 2015
This may seem like an odd one. We lost this game you might point out, I know as you can see I noted the correct score above. Why not include the 0-0 at Anfield you might say, I don’t know. Also I know this isn’t a Championship game but it did form part of our Championship stay so counts.
Bolton earnt an FA Cup replay courtesy of a hard fought 0-0 draw at the home of Liverpool’s second team. We were enjoying a brave new ear at this point and dreaming dreams of white hot nights from days gone past. It had all the ingredients of a cracker for Bolton fans and despite the outcome it was a great occasion for me.
Zach Clough, who was having a good game, went over the Liverpool penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot (defiantly the right call no doubt). Up stepped the Iceman fresh from boasting that he had never missed an important penalty. He didn’t disappoint firing past ‘goalkeeper’ Simon Mignolet. Bolton’s brave defiance took a hit seven minutes later when Neil Danns picked up a second yellow card (idiot).
Bolton held out for another 20 minutes before Raheem ‘I like money’ Sterling fired home for the visitors. It looked like we could bravely take the Premier League side to extra time but then Philippe Coutinho stepped up with a moment of magic to fire Liverpool into the next round at the expense of the mighty Whites.
It took them till so late in the game and required two players who have commanded more in transfer fees than the entire Bolton Wanderers Football Club is worth.
What should have made the list? Leave your thoughts below.