In my experience, there is no topic of conversation that divides people more on a daily basis than football. Everyone has an opinion and, thanks to social media, everyone has a voice. The game itself now lasts for days and days after the fact as aspects of it are constantly dissected and argued about amongst differing fan bases, and this season more than ever, the fanbase of Bolton Wanderers has never been so divided.
On Sunday, Remi Matthews decided to comment upon a tweet that praised his contribution towards Dennis Politic’s goal away at Coventry City. His response was to fire back at fans who he believed were unfairly criticising him, even though the tweet he responded to had nothing to do with this.
As he continued to engage with fans, a writer at Lion of Vienna wrote an article asking the question why he felt the need to do this, and whatever you think of the overall content of the piece, I think most would agree this is a fair question. We are fans, we have a great, established platform given to us to voice our opinions and if any player decides to read our work they should expect to see both praise and criticism in equal measure should we see fit. Frankly, though, I find it astounding that they would come looking to read our work and possibly be hurt by what we say. We are fans, none of us have had professional careers, so why be bothered about what we think? I don’t understand how players make it in the game if they have such thin skin.
The follow-up comment to this train of thought would be “if the players shouldn’t care what we say, then what is the point of a fan site?”, to which I would offer the following response:
On January 21st 2019, fan sites including ourselves lit the touch paper which sparked the large fan protest before we played West Bromwich Albion at home. The match was shown live on Sky and therefore the protest got huge media coverage and support from the wider footballing community. The voice given to fans by these sites started this movement and, though it did not happen right away, said protest helped to get Ken Anderson and the poison that surrounded him out of our club. This is the point of a fan site.
On January 14th 2020, Bolton were utterly humiliated 5-1 away at Lincoln City and it was my responsibility to handle the player ratings for the game. At the end of my article I spoke about Keith Hill and detailed, very explicitly, the issues at the club that I thought he was causing. The article is there for all to read, still, and everyone who engaged with me on Twitter or knows me said that I was spot on and it needed saying. This is by far and away the most volatile article I have written for the site and it got positive feedback, so why then when I have said much less inflammatory things about Liam Bridcutt and Ethan Hamilton, players who aren’t even our own, do I and the site get abuse?
You may know me, if you know me at all, as the “Bridcutt tweet guy”, and my view on him garnered me tens of responses on Twitter that ranged from sensible debate to horrific personal abuse. Marc Iles at the Bolton news spoke about it on The Buff and within the site a counter article was written in response. I went against the grain in my thinking and was ridiculed by pretty much everyone, but when I lambasted Hill, our own manager, I was universally praised. To be honest, I simply don’t get it. Clearly some fans have their favourites and god forbid anyone decide to go against them despite demonstrating facts and figures that support their opposing view. Remember, those of you who supported Matthews, that he wouldn’t have said anything in the first place had some of you not been criticising him.
I love writing for this site and I love the fact, because we are not the kind of site who has to pander to the club if we don’t wish to, we are at liberty to say what we want. If I want to call Hamilton crap for playing crap, because he did against Coventry and has done in every match for us bar his debut, or call out our manager for clear and obvious errors he has made and continues to make, then I can and I will. Anyone who actually reads my work, and those of other writers for this site, know that when praise is merited it is given, but if something is wrong it is our duty to point it out. This is the point of a fan site.