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Sleepless in Southend

Insomnia, Wanderers and 1863

Parky had a dream

It's midnight as my head hits the pillow. Across the Atlantic it's five A.M. and it won't be too long before the people of Bolton wake up to face the wrath of Wednesday. I'm not sleeping. It doesn't take long before my mind is on Tuesday's victory over Phil Brown's Southend United.

This week I visited the battlefields of Gettysburg, the largest, bloodiest and most decisive scene of the American Civil War. The site where General Lee sent thousands to their deaths in an ill-fated advance into Union lines; almost certainly the turning point in the war itself.

Just hours before kick off (3pm local time) my mind wandered to another potential turning point. Wanderers were playing away at Southend. The weekend's home draw was a disappointment, but other results seemed to go our way. Coming into Tuesday, we had a real opportunity to put one foot in The Championship.

"But this is Bolton Wanderers", the pessimistic Gollum us fans all accommodate in the dark corners of our minds seems to appear at moments like this; "they'll always do things the hard way". Even with our current away form, it would be very "us" to drop points at Southend. Maybe the draw at home to Chesterfield was a sign that our form is dipping at the crucial final hurdle?

Not this team. Not this season. Not this manager. Phil Parkinson - our very own Ulysses Grant. After years of managers who talk a good game yet fail to deliver, we've finally got a man who can lead us into battle. Another tight, close contest was decided by a late goal, naturally from a set piece. The Bolton of old would have dropped points there, but the shadows of last season have been cast aside by a man cut from the same cloth as Rioch.

The warriors in yellow took their due adulation at the final whistle from the 700 or so away fans, undoubtedly weary from the physical demands of the hectic fixture schedule at this time of the season. General Parkinson saluted the travelling support. The battle cry was clear: "and now you're gonna believe us, the Whites are going up". With a ten point cushion and just 15 left to play for, it seems only a matter of time before it is confirmed.

We can't settle here. Our attention must turn to Sheffield United, sitting just three points above us. He might not say it in public, but Parky will still believe that the title is in our reach. Sharpen those Blades in the famous steel city, because Parky's Army are coming for you.