Explaining Bolton to the Uninitiated
Date: Wednesday 21st September 2005Methinks it's time to explain to a few of those foreigners, who are unfortunate enough to live outside our illustrious boundaries, just what Bolton and its controversial football club are all about; controversial that is to all who were born and raised in softer climes. Firstly, Bolton is in Lancashire. It matters not to us that a yuppie in some local government office, in league with the Royal Mail, woke us all up one morning and announced we were now in Greater Manchester. Well mate, bowlocks to that. We are, and forever will be (to me at least), Bolton, Lancs, thank you kindly, with knobs on. Manchester, red or blue variety, has no part of a true Boltonian's world. Lancs we are, Mancs we 'ain't and never will be! Not for us University status (well, erm... Ed), with toasted muffins, glasses of port, good old 'Rugger' and rowing down the river on a sunny afternoon. The River Croal was deliberately designed to forbid such time-wasting fol-de-rols. High Schools of various denominations -if you were clever enough or your parents could afford such luxuries - was the high-end, the pass-out parade with dishonours from Secondary school and off to an apprenticeship or t'mill. Bolton was forged on a clogs and flat-cap image, not so that the World could forever remind us of it, but, because caps kept your heads warm and clogs lasted four times as long as shoes in times when anything new was a rarity and the deliberately torn clothes of today’s fashions were considered enough of an embarrassment to warrant staying indoors. Clogs for all-seasons, wellies for snow or pumps for summer. End of choice! Bolton has no false airs and graces... but I digress... Bolton Wanderers, despite the obvious disadvantages of being bordered by Manchester, Wigan and Blackburn, have a unique history of good football. Yes, we fell by the wayside a couple of times in the not too distant past, but in true Bolton fashion we battled our way out of the mire and back up where we belong. Raised on a staple diet of meat pies, tripe, spare-ribs and Magee Marshall's best mild, 'The Trotters' and their ever faithful supporters left the Crewes, Barnsleys, Port Vales and Wolves behind them and rose again like the proverbial Phoenix. 'Darn Sarf' we are regarded as 'uncouth, in-your-face and aggressive' and unfit for the League of Gentlemen they consider themselves to be part of. What they really mean is 'straight up, no-nonsense and, well, maybe a little robust'. Gentle arts of survival that good old northern-minded Sam has taught well to Africans, French, Danes, Spaniards and anyone else who seeks conversion to the religion of the gentle art of 'Wandering.' The millionaire-owned, flavoured pancake (a bit like chewing a flip-flop with jam on it), the jellied eel (disgusting), whelk-munching and maiden's-water lager-drinking population of Greater London and below (Royal Mail again) are total aliens when it comes to knowing about football reality. It must be very upsetting for them to encounter the true Bolton tactic of early introduction to the third row of wing stands as perfected in earlier times by Messrs Ralph Banks, Malcolm Barrass and Roy Hartle etc and currently carried on by Jaidi, Tal and big Bruno with gusto. Just a shame that in these days of modern technology we have dispensed with that useful commodity - mud! Probably this was deliberate in order to stop the posh set from having the indignity of getting dirty. Kevin Davies is now well on the way to learning his trade via the Nat Lofthouse School of direct approach football and Dioufy could one day be the Senegalese Freddie Hill. Of course, there are low moments in being a 'Superwhite'; one such occurred on Boxing Day last year when, as the only Whites supporter, I had to sit in an Irish bar in Benidorm and watch us lose on the big-screen to the 'Reds-next-door.' Ryan Giggs swung a leg wildly at a ball that could have gone anywhere, but finished in our net and Christmas was ruined irreparably. Amazingly, amongst all the Mankies, I doubt one actually came from there. Bandwagon jumpers all. Uggghh. The Geordies we quite like really, you know where you are with the Scousers and anything above Watford Gap is fair game for a scrap. The London brigade will just have to learn the realities of 'when the spending is all done, the fun starts' football. That's when being from Bolton comes into its own. Who would have thought the day would come when the one fixture they all dread in their title-chasing would be... 'versus Bolton Wanderers.'