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It Doesn’t Stop Here

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Just 4,050 minutes to go

Wycombe Wanderers v Bolton Wanderers - Sky Bet Leauge One Photo by Andrew Kearns - CameraSport via Getty Images

There’s many a Bolton Wanderers fan waking up today (not just the 1800 that sold out the away allocation of tickets at Adams Park) with a pride-hangover. Some admittedly will have a very real hangover of their own to contend with, but all will have a sense of “did yesterday really happen?”

Who would have thought that a 2-0 defeat to Wycombe Wanderers would inspire so much positivity from our fan base? Not one rendition of “Parky Out”. Yes, there were the odd songs belted out at the EFL and a certain Northern Irish striker, but the overall vibe of the day was one of being relieved and proud that there is still a Bolton Wanderers Football Club. The plaudits of Wycombe fans and, thanks to social media, fans all over the country have been well earned. The rapturous noise when the side had made it to half time without conceding a goal was spine-tingling.

Think about that for just one minute. We were celebrating getting to half time at 0-0 against a team we in previous years would have demanded to put to the sword. We put our differences of opinion over Dean Holdsworth, Phil Parkinson, the administrators and Football Ventures to one side and basked in the sheer joy of having a football club to support. And wasn’t it a thing of beauty?

To those 1800 Bolton fans who made the 7 hour round trip yesterday, you were amazing. The confidence boost you gave this inexperienced team cobbled together with just hours until kick off was of immesurable worth. Players like Yoann Zouma able to cast aside any nerves as the clamour of nearly 2,000 supporters swelled their chest and instilled belief that they could put on a show for their audience. The eyes of football fans, pundits, writers and commentators across the country were on you, and you showed them all what it means to be a Bolton fan.

Not one eyelid would have batted had 80 foolhardy souls turned up in Buckinghamshire, politely applauded the unfamiliar names on the teamsheet, and skulked out of the exits when the second Wycombe goal went in. After all we’ve been through, nobody would have begrudged the fans from losing heart.

But this is Bolton Wanderers, and these proud Lancastrians have enough northern grit to fuel that long trip to High Wycombe and back. There’s 145 years of history flowing through the veins of this football club. It was there when the Football League itself was founded, and against the very real threat of extinction, it’s still here now.

Now comes the challenge. You’ve set your standard for the season. You did it for the curtain raiser, but will it be there in 45 games time? When the curtain closes on the season, will you be there declaring your undying, unwavering, passionate support for your club, even if it means relegation to League Two? Will you lose heart if we lose the first 8 games of the season? Will you give in to the temptation of venting your frustrations at the manager and his players?

Bask in this moment, but embrace it. Let’s do it again. And again. And another 43 times to boot. Yes, even at the University of Bolton Stadium. Let’s create an atmosphere, home and away, that makes these young professionals fall in love with the badge. The fans were the ones who took that Bruce Rioch side of the 1990s under their wing in the third tier, and created an atmosphere around the club so electric that players like John McGinlay began a life-long love affair with the town. Let’s fill out boots and do it all over again.