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Adios Vicente Calderón : Remembering Atlético Madrid v Bolton Wanderers, 2008

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What a night

Atletico Madrid v Bolton Wanderers - UEFA Cup Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

As I watched the Champions League Semi Final last night between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid, I was constantly reminded by the Fox Sports commentator that this was the final European match at the Vicente Calderón Stadium before Atletico move to their all-singing and all-dancing new Estadio La Peineta at the start of next season.

This got me thinking about my own experience of the ground, back during our UEFA Cup run. So why not join me, in remembering that day.....

It was a terrible season, really, 2007-2008.

Bolton Wanderers remained in the Premier League, but only just.

We had to put up with some shocking football led by a manager who was, in his mind, right in putting league survival first. Nearly a decade on it's a little easier for this fan to reconcile Megson's intentions but by Christ he was a knobhead about it. Football is/was all about hopes and dreams, but there was little of either on display during our domestic campaign.

A ray of sunlight came in the shape of our UEFA Cup campaign. A so-so Group Phase saw us finish in the final qualification slot, behind Bayern Munich, Sevilla and Braga.

Our reward was a Round of 32 draw against Spanish giants Atlético Madrid. Wanderers overcame their illustrious opponents 1-0 courtesy of an El-Hadji Diouf goal in the home leg in front of a packed Reebok Stadium.

So it was on 21st February that plane after plane of Bolton supporters headed to Madrid for a fantastic day out in the Spanish capital.

After a day on the pop, seeing the sights and trying to avoid crippling sunburn, it was to the run-down (even back then) stadium for the game itself.

The home side, then fourth in La Liga, were the clear favourites to win this tie, however were without top Argentine forward Sergio Aguero who was suspended and that seemed to blunt their attack, former Manchester United man Diego Forlan isolated up front.

Ex-Arsenal forward Jose Antonio Reyes and future Liverpool nobody Maxi Rodriguez attempted to support Forlan, but the combination of Andy O'Brien and Gary Cahill stifled their threat.

The game, of course, ended 0-0 and Bolton fans celebrated, as did their team. The mood soon turned, however, with the Madrid police going postal on the visiting fans. With any situation, it's not like we didn't have our share of idiots, but the reaction of the Spanish police was appalling and it led to several fans receiving serious injuries, and others having the entire experience forever tarnished. Their response was completely over-the-top and is one that has since been repeated on numerous occasions where English fans are concerned.

So as Atletico wave adios to their old ground, with it's basic facilities and underpass running beneath the main stand, they will soon be welcoming their shiny new Estadio La Peineta, otherwise to be known as the Wanda Metropolitano for sponsorship reasons. The stadium sits on the site of the existing stadium, incorporating some of the original features, whilst the majority has been demolished.

It is reported that the stadium will hold 68,000 supporters - let's hope that the modern surroundings inspire a more modern approach from their security forces.

As for Bolton, well we've gone to shit since, but it's nice to look back on a time when things weren't quite as bad.

The Teams

Atletico Madrid: Abbiati, Pernia, Pablo (Mista 67), Antonio Lopez, Perea, Jurado, Cleber Santana, Maxi, Luis Garcia (Miguel 54), Reyes, Forlan.

Subs Not Used: Falcon, Fabiano Eller, Ze Castro, Alex Quillo, Dominguez.

Booked: Maxi.

Bolton: Jaaskelainen, Hunt, Andrew O'Brien, Cahill, Samuel, Giannakopoulos (Diouf 59), McCann (Campo 58), Nolan, Joey O'Brien (Meite 85), Taylor, Davies.

Subs Not Used: Al Habsi, Teymourian, Alonso, Vaz Te.

Booked: Joey O'Brien, Nolan, Diouf, Davies.

Att: 30,000

Ref: Jacek Granat (Poland).