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Billy No Mates

Do rival fans really dislike Bolton, or is our reputation a victim of this year's success? 

Northampton Town v Sheffield United - Sky Bet League One Photo by Pete Norton/Getty Images

The 2015/16 season, thank God, seems like a long time ago. Probably the worst part of the whole ordeal, aside the obvious failures on the pitch and the possibility of going out of business off it, was the reaction of rival fans and managers in the build up to, and fall out from, league games.

Managers of other sides would reel off a list of half-compliments, using phrases such as "good club", "football history" and "it's a shame to see them like they are", feigning interest in our plight with a patronising run-down of pleasantries. When you've been beaten 6-0 away at Bristol City, it starts to grate on you.

It seems appropriate on Easter weekend, then, to speak of somewhat of a resurrection at Bolton Wanderers. What's been interesting this season to accommodate the successes on the pitch, are the new or renewed rivalries that have accompanied our return to the third tier. Whether we're a "big fish" that teams are desperate to beat, or a club that has bent Football League rules to gain an unfair advantage, Bolton Wanderers aren't much liked in League One parts. It could even be a reverse scenario of last season - when you're top of the tree, there's always going to be people shaking branches to see if you'll fall out and break an arm. The club with "a rich history" has become a "hoof ball" football team that has (knowingly or unknowingly) bent Football League rules to sign players.

We asked Bradford supporter @DavidWilman1 and Sheffield United fansite @Blades_Mad for their two penneth on League One this term, and their thoughts on the Wanderers.

@DavidWilman1, Bradford City fan

David, sum up Bradford's season so far

Good, but frustrating. We've been better than last year performance-wise, but we've had too many draws. We signed goalscorers in January but fair too many draws pre-Christmas have hampered us. We've not been as clinical as the two teams on more points.

Phil Parkinson. Discuss.

Legend. Parky gave us some of the best days you could hope for as a City fan. I do think it was probably the right time for him to go. I think its worked out well for everyone concerned in all honesty.

Who's joining Sheffield United in the Championship next season?

Bolton and Bradford (providing we don't get Millwall in the play-offs).

Are Bolton really the "bad guys" of League One?

Not for me. I don't know where this bollocks Twitter rivalry has come from. There are annoying clowns on both sides. Every club is where they are on merit after 40 odd games.

Your contributor Liam likes to say how shit League One is, but I'm not sure his boasting is a fair cross section of the BWFC fan base. If it is, that's probably why people think you're the 'bad guys' of the league.

@Blades_Mad, a Sheffield United fan site

Congratulations on your promotion to the Championship. I don't think many doubt that United are the best side in the division. What made the difference this season compared to the previous five?

Many thanks for the kind words. There's been a few factors, but I think there was one main reason and it's the gaffer. Chris Wilder has given the whole football club a new lease of life. He knows what it means to the supporters, he's obviously a die hard Blade himself, and he's struck that into the players and they've all got on board and it's turned out to be a major success. The scale of the job he's done cannot be underestimated. Back-to-back promotions with his last two clubs as well (Northampton Town in League Two last season). Just so happens we clinched promotion at his old Sixfields stomping ground last week. It's a funny old game ain't it?!

Who's been more important to the Blades: Billy Sharp or Chris Wilder? If you could pick one going into next season, who would you choose?

Again, it's got to be Chris Wilder. Many good managers have come and gone at this football club whilst we've been in League One; managers with decent CVs. Wilder has come in and revitalised the whole club. Billy Sharp has been immense for us this season, and is currently the highest goalscorer in the top four divisions in English football. He's been just as important on the field with his 26 league goals (and counting), but also off the field in terms of getting the rest of the playing staff on board in what it means to be a Blade and what it would mean to the supporters to finally end our six year spell in this league.

He's played the role of captain superbly. He's had a magnificent season, and deservedly won the League One Player of the Season award.

Which sides are going to be joining Sheffield United in the Championship next season?

It's been an intriguing race for promotion all season long. I think it's say to say the Wanderers will be coming up with us, deservedly so too because you've had a very consistent season yourselves.

In terms of the play-offs, I fancy Millwall to sneak in by the skin of their teeth and I can see them banishing the demons of last season's play-off final and going that one step further. It'd be good to see Bradford make it. They're a decent club with good support, plus it'd be another local derby for us to look forward to next season!

Bolton don't seem to have made many friends in League One this season - why is that?

Not too sure about that one. I think it's all just friendly banter as far as I'm concerned. Perhaps the manager you have is perceived to play one type of football that isn't easy on the eye all the time, but it's effective and why should you care if it does the job and gets you over the line? I reckon both of our teams have had three good battles this season.

The first game was a tight affair that saw a wonder goal separate the two teams. Our team and shape has taken a brand new look since the first week of August, it's barely recognisable. I think the circus around Gary Madine and his comments before our clash in February didn't sit well with Blades fans, nor probably Billy Sharp, and I think the really fuelled us up even more for that game to get one over him/you. Not that either side needed an added incentive that afternoon, but it certainly gave us one!

(You can follow David and Blades Mad on Twitter - @DavidWilman1 and @Blades_Mad)