Having supported Wanderers home and away since the age of six, away days are something which I have gradually become addicted to. Constantly feeling the urge to start some form of revolution at home, the only way to demonstrate this is away games where anything goes and the atmosphere is always electric, and I love it.
Sadly however, in the last few seasons, Bolton Wanderers seem to have adopted a habit of struggling on the road and this season has been no different, dampening spirits somewhat, but not to the extent which you’d expect…
Our previous spell in the Championship ended without us successfully attaining a win away from home and with only one win away from the Macron this season and everything relying on a win at Burton on Saturday, relevancy suggests it’s worth investigating what the issue is and why our fans are so loyal, irrespective of our current situation.
For year upon year, the club has prided itself on making the Reebok/Macron a fortress and given the focus and consistent home form since our relegation from the Premier League, retaining this is something which has clearly been somewhat of a priority. Unfortunately, this has had a dire knock-on effect on our form elsewhere and has ultimately formed our gradual downfall.
Despite our poor away form being common knowledge amongst our fanbase, it is still confusing as to why we cannot replicate our relatively impressive home form on our travels. Beyond the obvious theories that home wins are usually easier to retain, defined by the supposed ‘home advantage’. However, what forms this is something which we don’t have any of…atmosphere.
Providing that this is non-existent in all three of the home stands, it seems illogical that our situation is so backwards. The only explanation for this is that the team are simply more comfortable playing on their own turf and its familiarity is clearly something which they value highly and struggle to adapt quickly to unfamiliar territory.
Understandably, this often bemuses our away support which has to be said, must be one of the best in the league in terms of attendance, loyalty, volume and optimism throughout, regardless of the result. Irrespective of the wall of noise which follows the team everywhere and anywhere, they often fail to perform in an any other arena which is often taken over, intimidated and dominated by travelling Wanderers fans who pay good money week in week out for.
Other than at Bramall Lane therefore, the loyalty and continuous support from kick off to the final whistle has been recognised as commendable given how often we have fallen at that first hurdle.
So why do we still go you ask? As football fans, any obstacles that are thrown at us tend to be ignored, shrugged off and we are tempted into experiencing that buzz one more time which rarely happens, but to experience that pure moment of emotion and elation it is a feeling like none other. The potential of the light emerging at the end of the tunnel on
Saturday deep into stoppage time is something which cannot be experienced or witnessed anywhere else and it’s simply unmissable .
I’m hoping Saturday will match the likes of Port Vale at the end of the last season and the likes of Barnsley which, admittedly was a brilliant game at Oakwell a fortnight ago. The second half there was something which I hadn’t seen in a very long time, both on and off the pitch. The team were rejuvenated and helped back into the game by the immense noise which came from the 2,500 fans in the away end and the delirium that the goals caused in the stand was something which any football fan would’ve given their left arm to be a part of.
As you’d expect, Saturday was always going to be one not to be missed, unfortunately for many however it will. A hugely impressive influx of fans have flocked to social media in the hope of a spare ticket for the spectacle which lies ahead. Unfortunately, for many, it’ll prove to no avail, but the commitment to the cause is what counts and its great to see.
It is a shame that our allocation is so limited as I’m sure we would’ve easily sold another two or three thousand tickets given the opportunity and the annual popularity of the final away day of the season on top of the rather nervy occasion, for which I’m sure there’ll be plenty desperate to get a piece of the action in any which way they can.
Regardless though, the stands packed to the rafters with Bolton fans and will no doubt be giving it our all to will the team over the line from start to finish in desperate hope of three points and the return of a celebratory feeling which has been missing for so long at the final whistle for both players and fans. Given that the team can put the hard work in again, it deserves to be repaid to both parties and if there’s ever a time to do it, it’s this Saturday.
So..it comes down to this. Despite our form, the unbearable pain that a loss poses, travel expenses, ticket costs, beer prices, the often infuriating hoof-ball, the weather and every other possible deterrent to witness another Bolton Wanderers away game, it’s happening all over again.
1,600 hardened Whites fans, including myself, have kept the faith and will make the journey to Burton Albion to back the lads for one more ninety minutes in a game which effectively determines our fate.
With everything at stake and our future hanging in the balance, I plead of our beloved football club that Saturday will be a day to be remembered and not be one to tragically forgotten, that the fight, determination and passion seen at Port Vale, Barnsley & Sheffield United can be replicated and given that we keep our heads both on and off the pitch, it’ll be enough to secure our survival come 5pm.
As we have all season then, those going to the game, tuning in on the radio, at home and abroad, watching on iFollow, streams and beyond, let’s get behind Parky and the lads and get us that win together and show everyone that we will not die as a Championship club.
Please Bolton, I love you.
As a certain someone would say…believe.
This is it.
Bring the noise and lets do this.