Deputy editor Malcolm Dawson writes: M Salut in his journalistic drive to attract more and more readers to the site deliberately provoked fans of that fine old club Bolton Wanderers by suggesting that they were a spent force, undeserving of success. (His views not mine!) But still he managed to get another response to his request for the views of our FA Cup opponents. Of course it’s freezing cold here in County Durham and with the threat of a few inches of snow overnight there’s no guarantee the game will go ahead, which will no doubt bring smiles to our Canadian readers and fans of the Green Bay Packers who have been known to dig snow holes to avoid hypothermia during the playoffs. Robert Hurst, from the Burnden Aces fan site, took up the challenge and answered the questions set by Colin Randall.
Salut! Sunderland: I got into terrible trouble with some of your supporters, suggesting that a team that cannot muster more than 7,200 for a cup tie at home to PL opposition didn’t deserve either a good run or promotion. There was an element of mischief in my comments – I hoped for a reaction and got one – but tell me why I was wrong
For a fan of another team, I can see why it would look that way. But the performances our “players” have produced this season have, for the most part, been disgraceful Very few players put some passion into their performances and we’ve been getting bad results against lowly teams and DESERVING to come away without 3 points. So pay a tenner to watch that on a January afternoon just after Christmas? No tah. I wouldn’t actually mind where we are the league as much if the players actually looked like they gave a damn. (Mmm. I can remember a few of those at the SOL a few years back too – ed) To say our fans don’t deserve promotion or a cup run isn’t really fair though, after all the crap we’ve had to sit through over the last 2 years or so. The players certainly don’t deserve promotion though. And for what it’s worth, I think if we’d been drawn against any team outside of the top 6 of the Prem there would have been a similar crowd on the day.
At 2-0 you must have been thinking you were sure to win. Did either our poor start or late recovery surprise you?
I didn’t actually attend the game, so I can’t really comment on either teams’ performance. But I was fairly surprised to see us go up by 1 goal, never mind two. But after the amount of points we’ve dropped this season it certainly wasn’t surprising to see us give away the lead.
Dougie Freedman would probably take honourable exit and hope to move on towards the playoffs. There’s quite a gap – do you still see it as achievable this season?
I think Dougie’s the type of manager who likes to have a go in the cups, he got Palace to the Semi’s of the League Cup last year. If we can play our cards right in the transfer window, we might be able to make a late push for the play-offs, but unfortunately at the moment our players simply aren’t good enough.
What have been your own highs and lows as a Bolton supporter?
Some more recent highs were getting to the FA Cup semi-final, beating a strong Tottenham team 4-2 and bringing players like Wilshere and Sturridge to the attention of their managers. The lows would obviously be relegation last season and our terrible start to this season.
Who are the greatest players you have seen – or wish you’d seen, ie from earlier times – in BWFC colours and who should have been allowed nowhere near them?
I dearly wish I’d been able to see Nat Lofthouse playing. The man’s a legend at the club. Recently, it’s been amazing to see the likes of Gary Cahill and Jack Wilshere go from Bolton to being England starters. Kevin Davies has been a legend in his time here, as was Jussi Jaaskelainen.
Any thoughts on Sunderland – the club, players, fans, region?
Not really. I don’t mind Sunderland, and have no reason to dislike them.
Do you think referees are finally confronting the divers and wrestlers or are they fighting too much of an uphill battle in a game riddled with cheating?
I don’t think there’s much that referees can do. If they can’t see at the time that it’s a dive, but video evidence says otherwise, then the FA should take action to punish the guilty player.
If not dealt with in answer to question one, how tough is it to maintain interest in the home town club when you have the Manchesters so close by?
Guess the score in tonight’s FA Cup Third Round Replay between SAFC and Bolton Wanderers … for fun or for the win one/buy one Martin O’Neill mug prize option.
We’re unfortunate that we have a few successful clubs nearby, so a lot of youngsters tend to support them. Supporting Bolton is passed down in families nowadays, as is the case for many other clubs of our size.
Will you be at our game, how many Wanderers fans do you expect to make the trek and what will be the score?
I won’t be at the game. We’ll probably take a few hundred. I’m not sure about the score, but I’ll go for a close Sunderland win.
FINALLY: a paragraph about who you are, what you do, your involvement with the site and your history of supporting BWFC
My name’s Robert Hurst, I’ve supported Bolton all my life and I’ve been a season ticket holder at the Reebok for the last few years. I do Q&A articles and write the occasional blog for Burnden Aces, which is a BWFC fan website and forum.