Ah for the romance of the FA Cup. The great leveller that gives a whiff of glory, however fleeting, to the lads from below, and sometimes deep below, the Premier League. Didn’t we all turn our thoughts in May back to the day – whether or not we were there, or even alive – our Division Two heroes overcame the then mighty Leeds United of Don Revie to win the cup? Don’t some of us possess replica shirts from the previous Cup Final win, against Preston North end in 1937? Don’t we all want Blyth Spartans to get one over Big Sam this weekend? Well, yes. But then, how many Premier bosses will field weakened sides, vaguely hoping for some sort of run but not if it means compromising prospects of a top six finish, or survival, in the league? And how many fans of either side will turn up at the Stadium of Light, eight days after a 44,000+ gate for Sam’s real team? But hey, we’re due a run ourselves after the dismal early exits of recent times. Craig Johnson* – found at the Bolton Wanderers FC fansite BWFC UK Forum – feels the same about his club. It’ll be his first visit to Sunderland, and he expects to go back to Lancashire with Bolton’s fourth round place we secured, or at least a Reebok replay to look forward to……
Hello and happy new year to all the fans of Sunderland AFC from a supporter of the greatest football team in Lancashire, Bolton Wanderers.
Let’s get on to the topic of our clubs up and coming encounter… I shall be making my first ever trip to the Stadium of Light and Sunderland in general this Saturday.
With former Wanderers first team coach Ricky Sbragia as your new manager and Bolton fan favourite El Hadji Diouf currently playing for you, it should certainly make for a fantastic atmosphere and a great game of football.
Our recent run of form makes our 4-1 victory over you in November seem like a very long time ago. Our home defeat at the hands of our arch rivals Wigan Athletic last Sunday has left a very bitter taste and all Bolton fans are hoping that a good performance and a victory on Saturday will give our players the confidence to turn our recent poor league form around.
Maybe it’ll be the 100th Bolton victory in a match I’ve attended. See you all on Saturday and may the best team win. Now it’s time for me to tackle the questions:
What did you make of our prospects – yours and ours – at start of the season, and how has your opinion changed?
To be honest, I thought both our clubs would be in the relegation battle this season. And right now, we are! However, I do think we will both stay up this season. I can’t see West Brom and Stoke being able to stay up and I think Pompey will crash and burn now Redknapp’s left them for good.
4-1. Brilliant Bolton, sad Sunderland or a bit of both?
Personally I think it was a bit of both! We played amazingly well that day. But I have to admit, Sunderland’s defence were offering our forwards early Christmas presents!
Last time you saw us home or away? Any other memorable clashes?
That would be our 2-0 home victory over you at the end of last season. We were in fantastic form and a win in that game all but confirmed another season in the Premier League for us. That game was also memorable because it was our home supporters’ last chance to see Dioufy in a Wanderers shirt as he had already announced his intention to leave in the summer. He was a great player for us, and provided Big Sam at Blackburn doesn’t take him in January, I still wish him all the best at Sunderland.
Ever been to Sunderland, Stadium of Light or Roker?
This Saturday’s match will be my first visit to Sunderland. I look forward to seeing what looks to be a magnificent stadium.
Which club and/ or player/s do you love to hate?
All Bolton fans despise Manchester United with a passion. We have lived in their shadow for so long now, all we want is them to fail at every competition they play in! However, the rivalry has made our three victories against them since we came up in 2001 glorious occasions. We also have fierce rivalry with Blackburn Rovers, Wigan Athletic, Manchester City, Bury and Tranmere Rovers. As for players, that would have to be Robbie Savage! I, and all Bolton fans, have always disliked him. And that match against Leicester City, where he got two of our players sent off has guaranteed the man will never receive a worm welcome to the Reebok Stadium.
Any Nat Lofthouse stories?
Nat Lofthouse is by far the greatest player to ever wear a Bolton kit. I will always remember his reaction to Bolton getting promoted in 2001. He is a man who truly loves Bolton Wanderers, and Bolton Wanderers will always love him. The man is simply a legend and it’s a crime that he has yet to be knighted for his services to football! As for a story, my uncle once played in a Sunday league team with Nat’s brothers (so he says, anyway)
What about staff/players linked to both clubs eg Hurley, Reid, Todd, McCann, Allardyce etc?
Well, i’ll have to start with Big Sam! The new manager of our enemies Blackburn Rovers. It truly hurts us to see him talk down Bolton’s chances of survival to the press and then take over at our local relegation rivals! I’ve heard that he plans to bid for Dioufy in january! I hope Dioufy doesn’t go to Blackburn, because that would be a big kick in the teeth for us! Peter Reid will always be a favourite at Bolton, he always defends us when people try to pull us (and the way we play) down. McCann is defiantly one of our better players at the moment, a midfield workhorse who is always passionate, whoever he plays for. A true great!
Megson – hero or villain?
Now that’s a very interesting question! Its a bit of both really. On one hand, he has bought some great players to Bolton. Matty Taylor, Gary Cahill, Johan Elmander and Gretar Steinsson being some very good examples. On the other hand, he plays very negative tactics. Until recently, he wouldn’t make a substitution unless we had an injury and he went through a of spell of attacking our fans in the press earlier this season! All in all, I think we could have done better than Megson as manager when Sammy Lee left. But really, there is no one else available at the moment who could do a better job. So as long as we are in with a chance of staying up, I think we should keep hold of Megson and hope he continues making world class signings for the club.
Club v country. Who wins for you?
Bolton Wanderers always comes first for me. I hate it when our players have to play in international friendlies. However, I do get a sense of pride when I see Bolton players playing for their national team. Stelios winning Euro 2004 with Greece was on of the highlights of 2004 as far as i’m concerned. As for England, how has Gary Cahill not had a call up? And why does Heskey get picked ahead of Kevin Davies? Only Fabio Capello could answer those questions. All I can say is that I’m shocked the only Bolton player to be picked for England since we came back to the top flight is Michael Ricketts.
Will you go on Saturday? Score?
I’ll be there on Saturday. I’m hoping for a Bolton win and I’m quite confident we’ll get one. However, if we don’t win, I think we’ll certainly get a draw.
* Craig Johnson on Craig Johnson:
I’m 21 and have been an active Bolton supporter since Sept 26 1998, when my older brother took me to my first ever football match. It was a 3-0 victory for Bolton over Huddersfield Town at the Reebok. Ever since that day, Bolton Wanderers has been one of the most important things in my life. I have attended 218 competitive Bolton matches home and away since then, in Division One, the Premier League, the FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup! In all the matches I’ve been to, I’ve seen my team win 99 times, draw 66 times and lose 53 times. Out of all the matches I’ve attended, my two favourites are the 3-0 victory over Preston North End at the Millennium Stadium in the Division One Play-Off final on May 28 2001 and our 1-1 draw at Vit