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Last Game

BWFC v Peterborough

Sunday 30th April 2017


BWFC 3 : 0 Peterborough

Back in August 2016, I hadn’t got a clue how we would fare in our first season back in the third tier of English football. No money, disheartened and diminished squad, a transfer embargo in place and it had taken us ten years to come back the last time we were relegated to this level. With a new management team under Phil Parkinson in place, my optimistic view was to stop the slide and avoid further relegation, to stay in business and to enjoy a tour of League One grounds, either new or not visited for a long while.

By the end of August, I was in a state of shock. Motorway jams had severely curtailed any pre-match refreshments but we were top after winning our first four matches and we’d even won two away matches, a feat as rare as hen’s teeth in recent times. Away days were no longer going downhill from the kick-off.

Sombre September brought some reality back to the situation as Phil Parkinson got to know his squad and despite trying different formations, the goals dried up and we failed to win a match. Particularly disappointing was our loss at Rochdale with such a great following. At least our cracking start had given us some breathing space to find our best team and formation.

October to December proved to be a period for results, as new loanees settled in and the squad came together. We piled the points on as I piled the pounds on after some great fodder at Northampton and Peterborough. We were back up to second, culminating in beating the leaders, Scunthorpe United in added time.

Disruptions to the team with Sammy Ameobi not returning and Zach Clough leaving, meant January was almost a barren month. At least we give Big Sam’s Palace a run for their money in the FA Cup and my lunch of the season was found at the Greyhound in Longford, Coventry but things were slipping again on the League front.

The turning point came in February as we ran out of full backs and Phil Parkinson tried the 3-5-2 formation, which eventually proved to be our winner. It took time to get it sorted as results were mixed and we headed to Fleetwood on a poor run, looking over our shoulders at keeping a play-off spot. Faced with a long list of away matches, we needed something to give us a boost over the final run in. There were 12 cup ties to be played. Out of the blue, Darren Pratley was named in the team after being out since the opening match of the season. It visibly lifted the fans before the match and it certainly lifted the team as we hammered our main rivals to start Magic March and the belief that we could get automatic promotion. Away trips were a joy as the fans grew in numbers and we stuffed Gillingham, Oxford United and Shrewsbury in quick succession.

Ominously, we lost Ben Alnwick, Andrew Taylor and Gary Madine in the Shrewsbury match and the goals dried up in four of the first five matches in April. The exception I believe was the most important goal of the season, Mark Beevers in added time at Roots Hall, Southend. That goal meant that it was in our hands, promotion was ours to lose.

As we slipped up at Scunthorpe United and Oldham Athletic, Fleetwood Town maintained their challenge, narrowing the difference to two points as we headed to Port Vale. Nothing less than three points would do. Never mind Brexit, the General Election or North Korea, Gary Madine’s shoulder was the important news. Gary was patched up and sent into battle. We won comfortably to set up the promotion party against Peterborough. A point would see us up. There was a tear in my eyes as the crowd were singing ‘We are going up’ as we comprehensively beat Peterborough. It was our turn for a celebratory pitch invasion. Some players led the celebrations in a local pub. Celebrations continued long into the night at the Player of the Year Dinner with the players and fans together. That togetherness has been missing for years. So, we did far better than I could have hoped for. I got my tour of League One grounds but the finances are still a work in progress. The best feeling is that we have got our club back.

The Bolton Wanderers Supporters Association (BWSA) is the OFFICIAL supporters group for Bolton Wanderers Football Club.

You can find out more about the history of the BWSA by clicking ‘About the BWSA’

The committee of the BWSA aim to bring members and non-members together in the form of meet the player evenings at the football stadium or other social events held at various venues in the local area.

With the recent formation of the BWFC Supporters Trust, the BWSA intend to continue to host social events throughout the year and, in line with our constitution, act in the interests of supporters of Bolton Wanderers Football Club.

If you want to meet fellow supporters, players, managers, backroom staff and people generally connected to the world of football in a relaxed and friendly environment then membership to the BWSA is money well spent.

There may be many opportunities to see your favourite player arriving at the stadium or training ground but not many opportunities to speak to them on a one-to-one basis.

Why not show your support and join the BWSA now…click here


Pictures from our Player of the Year event

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