Bolton Wanderers, Panto Villains
Date: Sunday 17th December 2006It was always thus. There's only one local Wanderers Premiership game close to me this season, and lo and behold I can't go. The reasons being the princely sum of £10 in my bank account and the chance to have a drink with not one but three attractive women. Oh the agony. Anyhoo, I end up at home (passing in the street three chavs, one of whom boasts to his mate 'I've got a spare ticket for the Villa game' - Brummie get) fiddling furiously with the Telewest pay per view service. Nowt. Nothing. Nada. Big Fat Zero. I ring the magic 150 number and ask why I can't tune in. "It's part of the season ticket package. You have to subscribe to the rest of the season's games. £30." *click* So I find good old Radio Five Live Sports Extra, a title which trips off the tongue doesn't it? Our commentators are Steve Froggatt, ex Wolves and - hey! - Villa winger, and one time England cap, believe it or not; and a bint whose name escapes me - but it could well be Louise Taylor such is her depth of football knowledge and appreciation of Bolton Wanderers. Kick off. And the first half is a decidely moribund affair. The radio coverage brings no atmosphere across whatsoever, and I know Villa Park is a bit of a cemetary at the best of times but at least Match of the Day later on managed to get some crowd noises in. The empty seats are blamed on the cold weather and the 'attractions of the BullRing shopping centre' which I suppose could be half true if being jostled by large groups of teenagers looking for somewhere to play at skateboarding is up your strasse. So, Ronnie Corbett style digression over, the first half is basically bobbins. A person called Gabriel Agbonlahor (crazy name, crazy guy) keeps running down the right and dizzying our lads, who seem to have had treacle poured in their boots. Meite emerges triumphant from a goalmouth scramble, and Agonyaunt puts a Ridgewell pass wide when facing a glorious chance to put the home side a goal up. These misses and the ones that follow will come back to haunt the Claret and Blue types in the second half, mark my words. Speaking of (in?) words, the second half sees Villa clearly having been given some choice verbs and adjectives by that nice little leprechaun-man, Mr O'Neill. Villa are, quite frankly, over us like a rash and every five seconds it sounds like some Bolton player or other (usually Ricardo - sorry) being dispossessed and and a Villa player having a crack at goal, with Abititmuss usually at the back of it (on a festive note, Villa have a Gabriel and an Angel in their team. Awww). Cahill and Gardner (theirs, not ours) are both however denied by the Flying Finn, Jussi, who saves Bolton's bacon on more times than is right with superlative saves-a-plenty. At this point, the radio commentators need another mention. 'Villa are all over Bolton' 'Bolton haven't had a single shot on goal' 'Bolton have bought nothing to this game' and the immortal 'Bolton are a physical side who play to their strengths, but they can play some football too'. Then Dozy Dora summons the spirit of Kevin Keegan, with the hex-inducing 'only one team looks like winning this now.' Yes, that team is Bolton. Anelka, anonymous without his trouble buddy El Hadji aside him, gets 'bundled' over by Petrov, and you just know Gary Speed will score; and he does. Straight as an arrow. The rest of the commentary is dominated by what an injustice to Villa Bolton being ahead is, and how the home side don't deserve to lose; yes, it's Christmas and guess who the panto villians are. We're behind you! Angel, Sutton and Petrov all fail to equalise, and Campo nearly gets an own goal, but as with City away last season it's been another Speed-inspired smash and grab raid. And whilst some, even our own fans, see such a result as an affront to football and human rights issues, we WON. Spelt W-O-N. Bolton are fifth and four points clear of seventh. So stick that in your pipe and eat it! And yes, Sports Extra is shite.