Who Are These Jobbers?
If there’s a set of supporters that cry themselves to sleep to the thought of Sam Allardyce more than Sunderland then it’s those that follow Bolton Wanderers. The Trotters (great nickname) are the prime example of “you think it’s bad now, just wait” as they have hemorrhaged their way down the football league pyramid since Big Sam left.
The main difference between Bolton and Sunderland was that when they did have “good times” they actually did something. While we will harp on about how mint it was finishing seventh in 2000 and 2001, Wanderers actually went to Europe taking on the likes of Sevilla, Zenit St Petersburg, Marseille, Atletico Madrid and getting a goddamn draw away at Bayern Munich.
However, this column is not about bigging up the opposition it’s about ridicule from a lofty perch that we have in no way earned. So here goes…
As those tears from Big Sam are wiped away at the thought that this Wanderers’ squad once possessed the ridiculous talent of Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, Fernando Hierro, Kevin Nolan, Kevin Davies and Stelios Giannakopoulos and now it boasts 105-year-old Adam Wilbraham, those tears will come streaming back.
Staving off administration on a number of occasions, manager and disappointed-in-you-dad Phil Parkinson has hauled them out of League One. With a budget of precisely nothing and a transfer embargo, it is no small miracle that they have actually managed to gather any point. Oh and they sold their top goalscorer, Gary Madine, in January and still haven’t completely tanked.
I tried to be horrible and look what happened. Anyway, cheer yourself up by scrolling through David Wheater’s (Big Wheatz) frankly incredible Instagram.
How Do I Get There?
I have a series of major gripes with an away fixture at the Macron Stadium (many of which will be explored at length through this illuminating column) and the first is actually getting there. I would like to start a petition that states that any stadium where travelling car/coach is the optimum method of reaching it should be razed to the ground.
I am a man of simple pleasures, I enjoy watching the world go by from the seat of a train or Megabus. What I am definitely, intensely against is travelling by car and making stilted conversation for hours upon end with no form of intoxicating liquid - that may be just be me but there we go.
If you are travelling by car, the Macron is easily accessible (maybe too accessible). Take A1 (M) down to Leeds before joining the M62 to head over the Pennines. Follow this to junction 15 before taking the M61 exit at junction 6 for Middlebrook and the Macron Stadium. There is a car park outside the away end charging £7.
For you big dawgs getting the train, you will have to change at Manchester Piccadilly and catch a service heading to Horwich Parkway. The ground is a couple of minutes walk away. Have fun trying to get it back after the match, the last actual train back to Manchester is at 21.27 then after that its RAIL REPLACEMENT BUS CITY BABY!
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
One of the main issues in putting your football stadium in the middle of nowhere, there is a major detachment from human life. You know those regular things you see on a day-to-day basis like houses, pubs, shops and what not - aye they don’t exist in Horwich. Pub choice in the no-man’s in which the Macron inhabits is severely lacking.
I remember with a bleary-eyed sense of nostalgia when we would huddle in The Bromilow Arms prior to a game of Premier League football but even that has now gone, it’s now a car showroom for some reason. The only real option for away fans is The Beehive which a 15-minute walk up a git big hill, also you can forget trying to get in anywhere else because - in 2018 - the Harvester pub opposite the stadium is home fans only (lol).
“Oh but, Tom, when we go to the Macron we usually drink in Manchester” - yeah I’ve heard you. Thinking you know better than me and all that. You’re correct, you could drink in Manchester but where’s the fun in that? Do you get a proper feel for the town you are witnessing Sunderland lose in? No, you don’t. So hop on the train from the big city and alight at Bolton town centre.
Get yourself to Churchgate and swing by Ye Olde Man & Scythe for a beer and, a frankly, delicious pasty and beer in Bolton’s oldest pub. Across the way is the enigma that is Hogarths - a pub that proudly proclaims to not let in children, dogs, “dickheads” and refuses to sell food. Now, that is the place for me.
Or hey, treat yourself to a big crate from Tesco, sit in a damp car park in the middle of February and sup till your hearts content.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Look yourself in the mirror, utter the words “yeah, we’ll stay over in Horwich”.
Have a long, hard think and then go home.
What’s The Ground Like?
Very much like the Stadium of Light, the Macron Stadium is a sparsely-populated, soulless bowl where supporters gather every fortnight to have a good old cry, watching absolutely rancid football. However, very much unlike our home, Bolton actually win here more often than twice in 14 months.
Wanderers’ home since 1997, it was somewhat of a pioneering ground back in its day. Unlike many of the identikit stadiums that populate the lower leagues (looking at you, Derby County and Middlesbrough with your clone grounds), the Macron is actually unique and has some of the trendiest floodlights this side of the Pennines.
It has bore witness to slayings of giants such as Atletico Madrid, Arsenal and Liverpool but also was the scene of a live Coldplay DVD, so it shows that no matter what, there is still plenty of evil left in this world.
Our faithful/idiots are housed in the top tier of the South Stand and if it wasn’t £32 a bastard ticket I wouldn’t have any beef with it. Nonetheless, it is £32 so gan do one Bolton.