It seems like a long time ago doesn’t it. Ten years ago today Bolton Wanderers lost 2-0 to tomorrows opponents via a Darren Bent double. Sat in the stand that day having signed for the club 24 hours earlier was a certain Nicolas Anelka (Eddie’s piece from yesterday ‘Nicolas ‘Le Sulk’ Anelka - Big Sam’s Smallest Gamble’ led me to think of this).
I was there that day, as I will be tomorrow, along with 23,629 other fans to watch these two established Premier League sides face off.
Charlton Athletic had gained promotion in 2000 and under Alan Curbishley had gone from strength to strength. In the 2003-04 season they had been pushing for a Champions League place, but the loss of Scott Parker to Chelsea hit them hard and they finished in 7th, their best league finish since the 1950s.
Bolton were in their 6th season in the Premier League having been promoted a year later than Charlton. Bolton were also of course finishing higher up the table than they had in a long time having finished 8th the season before. Having already enjoyed one Europa League campaign the club was on a mission to get back into that competition.
As for the match itself I remember very little about it apart from Anelka giving the away fans a wave multiple times by popular demand. Then again with it being a 2-0 loss ten years ago that is hardly surprising. But that’s not really the point of this article.
Since that day both teams have fallen on hard times. Charlton’s decline kicked in when Curbishley left the club that season and they would drop out of the top flight a year later in 2007. Bolton’s decline can of course be traced back to the end of that season when Big Sam Allardyce left the club; although we managed to hang around in the big time a little longer the heights of that season were never reached again.
There will be no £8 million signing watching on from the stands and I’m sure nowhere near 23,630 people will be in attendance. This Premier League tie from yesteryear is a somewhat depressing reminder of how far both clubs have fallen in the year’s in-between. But then that’s the nature of football isn’t it. Clubs enjoy their ups and suffer through their downs, and yet through it all somehow they end up in the same place kicking a ball around on a patch of grass.