A lovely afternoon was had by all on Saturday, as John McGinlay's team of legends trounced Team Kelly's by six goals to two. The result mattered little, the point of the game was to raise funds for the Trust and Community Trust but, more importantly, give the fans something to enjoy after a truly awful year, to remind us that we are a truly brilliant club.
Everyone involved nailed it, it was an excellent day and I thank them all profusely for making it happen.
Here are five little observations I had from the game:
1) Jay Jay is just as good as I imagined
I wrote in the run up to the game about how I never got to watch Jay Jay when he played for Bolton, so finally seeing him play on that sacred Reebok turf really did mean a lot to me. I couldn't wipe the smile of my face, because he was everything I ever imagined. Obviously he wasn't quite as pacey or explosive as he was in his youth, he was never going to go at anything faster than a trot, but he was still electrifying. When the ball was at his feet everyone had a quick intake of breath in anticipation of what he would do and, not wanting to impress, every time Okocha looked to dazzle and amaze us all. Flicks, quick feet, no look passes, more flicks, literally bamboozling Paddy McGuiness so much that he fell on his arse. It was amazing. For many it was just a trip down memory lane, but for me and no doubt others it was a brief glimpse into the past, back to a better time.
2) David Lee is unreal
He ended up being a bit wasteful at times and the fella can not shoot to save his life, but David Lee is absolutely unreal for his age. He's easily the fastest 48 year-old I've ever seen, it's mad how quick he is, like, I reckon he could beat most of our squad in a 100 meter dash hands down. Not to mention his crossing, have we ever had a better winger at getting to the by-line and throwing in an irresistible cross like that? I don't think so, and Lee's still bloody got it. Actually signing him on for the actual first team to be an impact player next season actually ins't the worst idea in the world, which in its self is fucking mad. I'd certainly take him over Liam Feeney.
3) Fabrice Muamba
Much of the game on Saturday was a laugh and a joke and not much of it needed to be taken seriously at all. But Fabrice Muamba returning to the field, four years on from having to retire from it, was an incredibly emotional moment. Every one in that stadium stood and applauded, firstly when his name was read out and then again when he entered the pitch. Chants of "Fabrice Muamba" echoed around the ground. A lot of horrible shite has happened to our club in recent years, but all of it pales in comparison to what happened to Fab, so seeing him back in a Bolton shirt was simply incredible to see. It's also nice to know he's still gangly and can never really get the ball under control ;)
4) John Bishop is hilariously shite
Not the point of the game at all, but I feel like I'd be betraying my analytical instinct if I didn't point out that comedian John Bishop is hilariously shite at football. The guy deserves a medal at being so bad. At one point in the first half the ball dropped to him near his own by-line, Jussi told him he had time to deal with it and clear it away. Bish let it bounce and then ended up giving away a corner, you could sense Jussi sieving from 50 yards away. Haha, I don't want to seem mean, it just genuinely made me laugh how hopeless he was. But I'm sure he knows it and takes it all in good humour, and I thank him just as much as anyone else for turning up and making the game a hilarious ordeal. Besides, he did more than Sasa Curcic, who came on, fell over twice and then went back off and never returned.
5) We are a fucking great club
It's very easy to forget, with the deluge of shit that continues to get poured on us, but Bolton Wanderers a great club. We have a set of supporters, despite the snarky twitter bitching, who will unite together for causes and did so on Saturday to try and raise funding and awareness for the Trust and Community Trust. We have an incredibly long list of former players who love this club and would come and play in said fund raising opportunity just for the sake of it. Just looking through the photos of the match and all you can see on every players' faces are broad, beaming smiles. They loved playing for Bolton, they love this club.
I get the impression that the match was organised quickly with not a lot of time for preparation, I reckon with a bit longer they'd be able to get even more names turning out in the white again. Holdsworth, Kelly and McGinlay's words at the end of the game really seemed to resonate with everyone, there are people who love this club and we will go forward again. It's almost certainly naive, but I left the Macron on Saturday with an overwhelming sense of pride and hope, maybe better times are on the horizon?