A message to a future owner (assuming there is one)
My dad took me to see Bolton Wanderers when I was seven. He used to go every week. I remember asking him if I could go with him and he couldn’t have been happier. It was as if I transitioned from being a little to a big lad — this was something we could finally do together, both of us. He worked a late shift at a paper mill back then and wouldn’t get home until after 10 o’clock. I remember the night he came home with my season ticket. It was a Friday and he woke me up to show it to me — he couldn’t wait. “Tomorrow,” he said, “we’ll watch the reserves.” I had no idea what that meant. But almost every Saturday after that, we went to Burnden Park to watch the first team or reserves play.
He used to stand in the Paddock with the lads but all that had to change when he took me. Our season ticket seats were on that very last row of the Great Lever Stand, right at the top. We sat with the old men that, whenever Taddy Nowak got the ball, wrung their hands together in fervent anticipation and mumbled “nah then!”
I remember the half-times more than anything else. It’s not like I didn’t enjoy the football, of course I did. Have you ever seen that goal by Frank Worthington? I was there — thousands were, but I was too. But what I remember most was that every week, my dad would pull out a thermos flask full of piping hot coffee and pour it into two cups while our hands shook from the cold. Then, just before I’d drink any, he’d pull out a little hip flask from his pocket and drop in a bit of whiskey. “This’ll warm yer’up,” he said, with a smile, “…and don’t tell yer mam! Christ!” He had a special way of saying Christ. And I never did tell my mum. Anyway, every week he did that. Every week we did the same thing.
He passed away a year ago next Saturday. I miss him terribly, we all do, but I’m glad he’s not here to see this.
For those that don’t know, for those that don’t follow Bolton Wanderers Football Club — I’m here to tell you that this historic club, a founder member of the Football League, THE Football League, is in dire straits.
I don’t even know how you get here from there. To make a long story a bit shorter, we had a great spell in the Premier League — the pinnacle of English…