David’s Five Things from Sunday’s dramatic game:
1. Being a Wanderers fan is brilliant
Admittedly not all the time, and yes there have been some very dark days this season, but right here, right now, it feels fantastic to be a Bolton fan. Forget what has gone on in the 45 games previous, yesterday was a fantastic day for everyone associated with the club. Against all the odds, the rickety old roller coaster ride that is Bolton Wanderers, having come off the rails a few times this season, is now firmly back on track. All the heartache and anguish of weeks gone by, paled into insignificance as the Whites did the unthinkable and avoided the drop in unbelievable fashion, I have no idea how and - as I write this with a slightly fuzzy head - I still can’t quite believe it actually happened, but we did it. Seeing all the players and subs rush over to big Willy as he put the winner in, showed that togetherness we were craving, seeing the fans pour on to the pitch to celebrate with the players and each other at the final whistle was a joy to behold and seeing Parky’s little face with his ruffled hair at the end, bless him, he was as shocked as we were, but you know what, I’m dead chuffed for him, it’s been a tough year all round but after 46 games we were the fourth worst team in the division and that’ll do for me. Football is a funny old game and all the pain and suffering is worth it for days like these, what an unbelievable day it was.
2. Aaron Wilbraham aged 38½ is a true gent
News of the line ups and that Parky had opted for the well groomed talisman instead of ALF was met with some disdain on social media and the terraces. But Parky, having yet again done his homework like the teacher’s pet that he is, knew Forest have conceded plenty of goals from crosses this season, so he stuck to his guns and put his faith in the big man. Unbeknown to Aaron, he was about to play the best 95 minutes of his life, going on to score the winning goal that guaranteed our survival and forever etch his name in the Bolton Wanderers history books. It’s fair to say Wilbrahamovic has been given plenty of stick this season, none more so than when he came on against Sheffield Wednesday before snatching an equaliser late on to which he reacted brilliantly and with great dignity. But on Sunday, no one could question his heart and his work rate, chasing down and getting into great positions. OK admittedly he missed a few sitters, but he managed to go the distance and found himself in the right place at the right time on 88 minutes, without a whisker out of place, nodding in the winner. His comments after the game were first class, well done that man.
3. A week is a long time in football
After the crushing defeat against Burton, dreams that we could escape the drop had all but vanished. But as the week went on and the pain subsided, we succumbed to our old nemesis, Hope. The positivity around the place from the Under 23s triumph in the play off final against Forest and Ken’s daily inspirational essays asking us to buy tickets and get to the club shop, all had us believing that maybe the impossible was possible. And so it turned out. If Parky had sat down with the fans before kick off on Sunday morning and wrote down exactly how they wanted the day to go, I don’t think even they could have dreamt up what happened at the Macron yesterday. It’s the stuff of fairy tales, So many times this year we have crumbled when we went a goal down, and even the most optimistic of fans must have feared the worst as Forest volleyed in their second yesterday with ten minutes to go. But not this time, this time it really was closing time at the last chance saloon and we were fighting for our lives. When it mattered most, we never gave up, we delivered and that hope that we have been clinging on to all season finally gave us our rewards. To grab a late winner, Burton and Barnsley to lose, Cardiff to bag us a bit more Madine cash and Wheats to give us more comedy gold, everything just fell in to place at the right time, amazing. It was a million miles from last week and I think we have all flaming deserved it.
4. We have more reasons to be cheerful
Those two minutes could just have changed the path that Bolton Wanderers will take. It’s hard to imagine what would have happened if we hadn’t won and golly gosh it was a close run thing, but the gloom has been lifted in an instant and all of a sudden we look like a different club with a different future. More importantly, we did not undo all the hard work from last year to clinch promotion and have to start all over again. With the sad news we will not be travelling to Accrington next year, the Whites can look forward to two other local derbies with both the pie eaters and the dingles fluking promotion. There are some interesting away days to be had, not least we have the opportunity to punish Stoke again. Everyone is positive again and we need to keep it that way.
5. Next season starts here
Clearly, we have made plenty of mistakes this season and we need to learn from them quickly. The certainty of Championship football obviously makes our outlook a lot rosier but we need to set out what we need to do differently and who we want to do it. Much was said about players in and out of contracts and the unrest that has caused, so now we know where we’ll be playing next season, some tough decisions, (without the sentiment) need to be made, For me, unless we get new owners, Parky will still be in charge next season and rightly so in my opinion. Ok it was a bumpy ride but by hook or by crook we have achieved what we set out to achieve; promotion followed by consolidation on a budget of next to nothing. I think he deserves his chance with a competitive budget to see where he can take us. Day after day there is talk about further investment from far and wide so we need to sort that quickly so funds can be made available for him to strengthen the squad. With so many players out of contract it certainly will be an interesting summer to see who we can bring in, it will also be interesting to see whether we will give the youngsters a chance who have done so well this season, I hope we do. We definitely do not want to be in the same position next year as we were this, as my nerves will never take it. All in all, it has been a season of ups and downs, but its mission accomplished and onwards and upwards for next year where we’ll do it all again...
It’s been emotional, it’s been Bolton Wanderers.