When the news broke this weekend that BGM had been involved in a Gateshead pub brawl, the usual hysteria ensued about his behaviour. Just when Madine was enjoying his best run of form in Wanderers colours after a regular Friday night chippy tea, he manages to get himself in trouble with the authorities. Bolton fans do not have to cast their memories far back to the last Madine scandal – “pig-gate”. When BGM was ordered back onto the team coach at Bramall Lane last season, it appeared as though his Wanderers career was over. The fans had seemingly lost their patience, mainly because they had to suffer Conor Wilkinson’s attempt at being a footballer in a grudge match against the league leaders.
Fast forward to November 2017, and Madine’s performances have never been better. Even when his supporting cast of Sammy Ameobi and Josh Vela were out injured, Madine was leading the line, indicating the level of performance expected in The Championship. With Ameobi and Vela around him in recent games, the side has created infinitely more chances, showing a willingness not only to defend resolutely, but outscore opponents both home and away.
What he and the club didn’t need at this crossroads in the season was a report that their striker had been arrested after an altercation in a Gateshead pub in which bottles were allegedly thrown, resulting in a man needing stitches to fix a facial wound. However, the club has reported that it expects Madine to evade charges from Northumberland Police.
We’ve seen it all before: a local lad come good goes home for night out with friends, only to be badgered by neighbourhood do-nothings intent on aggravation. You never know, it could have been a small group of Sunderland fans angry that he dominated their defence in the recent fixture at the Stadium of Light (naturally filled with the genetic resentment that only being born and bred in Sunderland can harness). Who are we to judge Madine’s reaction when hounded, if this proves to be the case? Most of us will never know what it is like to be constantly under the scrutiny of the public, be it for the countless number of selfies that modern football fans so adore, or to face the abuse of half-cut halfwits. An individual with a reputation such as Madine’s becomes a target for the barnpots who hope for a short video recorded on their mobile phone to provide them with the retweets they so desperately crave.
Madine is a victim of his reputation. He arrived at Bolton Wanderers having served five months of an 18 month prison sentence for two charges of actual and grievous bodily harm. He’s no angel. We’ve known that for some time. But we cannot be quick to judge him in this case without the facts coming to light.
When Josh Vela was reportedly thrown out of a local bar for threatening to assault a female member of staff, the event was dismissed as a drunken young footballer overstepping the mark. When David Wheater embarked upon the mother of all benders after Wanderers’ promotion, he was rewarded with cult hero status. This had also been the case in the land before social media – Stig Tofting came to England having been found guilty of head butting the owner of a cafe in Copenhagen. Rather than face outrage, fans responded with an “I-wouldn’t-want-to-mark-him” attitude. Madine has never enjoyed the dismissive attitude that others have benefitted from. My point isn’t that he does deserve preferential treatment; it is rather that nobody does.
Despite Madine’s recent form, it appears as though Bolton Wanderers fans are never far away from criticising their first choice target man. Had BGM enjoyed a favourable reputation in football, the reaction to the events of the weekend would have been very different. With Bolton Wanderers attempting to climb out of the relegation zone, Madine and all around him must concentrate on what matters: football. Fans and commentators need to follow suit should Madine escape criminal charges. Until the facts are known to the authorities, we cannot presume Madine’s guilt or innocence. What we can do is look forward to Friday’s game at Deepdale and hope that Madine is available to play his part.