Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Bolton Wanderers - The Reebok Stadium

Bolton Wanderers FC
The Reebok Stadium
Burnden Way

0844 871 2932

Ground Number: 180
Saturday 22nd October 2011
Bolton Wanderers 0-2 Sunderland
Barclays Premier League


1:  The club was established in 1874 by the Reverend Joseph Farrall Wright, Perpetual curate of Christ Church Bolton and Thomas Ogden, the schoolmaster at the adjacent church school, in 1874 as Christ Church F.C. They changed to their present name three years later. Thanks to the EFL's lack of care of its clubs and a scumbag called Ken Anderson, Bolton came close to going out of business in the close season, however, they were rescued by a company called Football Ventures. Local rivals Bury were not so lucky, going out of business due to a football vulture.

2:  They were founder members of the Football League in 1888 and remain the club to spend the most time in the top tier without winning the title (73 seasons in total). Their best-ever finish has been 3rd, achieved in 1921 and 1925. Their worst finish came during their only season in the bottom tier when they finished 3rd in 1988, making an immediate return to the third tier.

3:  Bolton Wanderers have won the FA Cup on four occasions, the first coming in the first final to be played at Wembley Stadium - the famous White Horse Final where they defeated West Ham United 2-0. The official crowd was 126,000 but it's been said as many as 300,000 attended.

4:  The League Cup final has been reached twice - in 1995 when Bolton lost to Liverpool and nine years later when they were unsuccessful against Middlesbrough.

5:  A couple of good seasons in Europe were enjoyed in the mid-2000s. In 2008 Bolton Wanderers played ten games to reach the 4th Round of the Europa League, eventually losing over two legs to Sporting CP of Portugal.

6:  Other honours include the Football League Trophy in 1989, the Charity Shield in 1958, the Football League War Cup in 1945, the Manchester Senior Cup on three occasions and the Lancashire Senior Cup twelve times.

7:  Previous grounds include Pike's Lane (formation until 1885) and Burnden Park (1885-1997). Bolton then moved into the Reebok Stadium, later Macron Stadium and currently the University Of Bolton Stadium. It's located in the Horwich area of Bolton. This area had a team, Horwich RMI up until 1995, when they upped sticks and moved to Leigh, naming themselves Leigh RMI, later Leigh Genesis. After years of struggle, they left Saturday football in 2011, making the switch to Sunday football a year later.

8:  Bolton Wanderers' nicknames include The Trotters, The Lillywhites, The Wanderers, The Superwhites, The White Army and other similar variants.

9:  Famous Bolton fans include Peter Kay, Paddy McGuinness, Vernon Kay, Amir Khan and YouTube pairing Thogden and Thogdad. Fictionally, they were made famous in the brilliant Phoenix Nights through characters like Mark Park (a local talent show winner) and a group of midgets who beat up bouncers Max & Paddy. There was also a nod to former Bolton Wanderers striker Mixu Paatelainen when a prank call purported to be a policeman of the same name as the Finnish striker who scored 15 goals in 69 games for Bolton between 1994 and 1997.

10:  The town of Bolton has a population of around 128,000.  Famous people from the town include footballing brothers Gary and David Flitcroft, DJ Sara Cox, referee Mark Halsey, footballer Frannie Lee and actor/writer Dave Spikey.


The Reebok Stadium was another ground that I was looking to visit to complete the 92. So when I saw that Wycombe were playing up at Oldham Athletic on the 22nd October and having already visited Boundary Park on several occasions, I had a plan. I would drop some mates off at Oldham and then go onto Bolton, thus getting a decent contribution towards my fuel costs and having some company on the journey. I had already booked my ticket 2 weeks previously on the Bolton website, opting to go for an under 21 to save myself £10, despite being 32!

We left Wycombe just after 9, having had to wait for one of our group to finish work. Soon we were underway and had a hassle-free journey until we hit the usual traffic jam around Stoke on the pathetic M6. After a 50 minute delay, we were on our way again and eventually got to Oldham about 12.50. After dropping everyone off I set off for Bolton, arriving at 1.20. I had seen on the Football Ground Guide website that you could pay £5 to park at the nearby Beehive Pub and claim the money back at the bar. In fact, when I turned up, there was no charge and so after checking for any signs that said: "No Parking" I made my way to the pub, which was full of Sunderland fans. I wish I hadn't bothered, because after half an hour of the bar staff completely ignoring our section of the bar, it took the forceful and persistent requests of a Sunderland fan to finally get our order through. He took orders for about 6 people so that we could finally quench our thirst and it was nice to finally get a drink. To be honest the pub wasn't the best and I soon left and made my way to the ground. Luckily there is plenty of choice of shops and places to eat right near the ground and so after getting some lunch in Asda, I made my way into the ground.

The game was pretty poor. Bolton were especially disappointing, not gaining control of the game against an out of form Sunderland side. It was all set for a 0-0 before 2 late Sunderland goals won it for the visitors, who had just about shaded the game and deserved to win. I would imagine Bolton will be down in a relegation scrap come the end of the season, and Sunderland will be enjoying mid-table mediocrity at best. Getting out of the ground after the game should have seen simple, but on my attempt to try and avoid the traffic, I took a detour, relied on my Sat Nav to try and take me a different way. But about 50 minutes later, after driving round Bolton, I found myself driving back past the Reebok Stadium on now, clear roads! I got home about 9.30 after picking up my mates from Oldham, annoyed that it could have been so much earlier.

VISIT 2: BOLTON 0-2 WYCOMBE (L1 15/2/20)

Though Bolton were not on the list of clubs that I fancied revisiting (due to having been fairly recently), I was still keen to go as my 2012 phone camera pictures were not of the greatest quality. I figured I could add a bit more to my blog and so opted to get a ticket at the reasonable price of £20 and also book on the independent supporters' coach. Looking back at my old blog entry, I'd missed Oldham Athletic away the last time I'd gone to Bolton, a real shame as I'm keen to do a revisit there. A lot of the older blogs were done in a rush as I'd already visited around 160 grounds when I started this blog. Looking back, I wish I'd not bothered as a lot of them have just been re-blogged anyway. There's still around 20 for me to do, mainly in the Football League but slowly but surely I'm getting round to them. Back to today's game, Wycombe had put in a pretty woeful performance against Fleetwood Town on Tuesday, so I wasn't as keen on the game as I should have been. We'd not even scored a goal away in months and have a tradition of helping struggling teams out with points, so the omens were not good. Bolton were sitting adrift at the bottom of League 1, the EFL docking them 12 points for financial issues that they allowed a former owner to create without censure. Bizzare. The Friday night was an early one with a few cans and I also did some research into the history of the club and the place as I always like to do. This made the trip a little more appealing, especially as the Bolton fans I'd met in the Rose and Crown earlier this season were really friendly.

The day of the game came and I was awake not long after my usual work time, I symptom of having a regular 4 am alarm. I tried to go back to sleep for a bit before finally giving up and catching up on my YouTube subs before getting up and having breakfast. After getting ready and getting my things together, I and my Dad left at 7.35, getting the coach ten minutes later. Due to the amount booked on the coach, the prospects of a double seat to myself looked slim, but I got lucky. Thankfully my Dad had got my ticket for me, so all I had to pay initially was the £27 fee for the coach journey which again was reasonable for a virtual door to door service. I killed the time by reading magazines on my iPad, browsing Twitter and having a game of Championship Manager 97/98 on my Chromebook, preferring the retro game to the modern-day Football Manager 2020. The weather outside was miserable and so scores of games were being called off which boded well for my couple of weeks off in March which were looking a bit sparse when I checked earlier in the week. After a brief stop at some nondescript services, we were at our pre-match pub, The Crooke Hall on the outskirts of Wigan at around midday. It was your typical Independent Supporters Club choice, in the middle of nowhere due to the need for coach parking and a solid choice of real ale and food. There was also a semi-real cider too - Gwynyt-Y-Ddraig Happy Daze. Made from concentrate as opposed to fresh apples and only 4.5%, it was not the tastiest but it was pleasant enough. Also due to the low percentage, I was still pretty sober after three pints. The Caribbean burger was also decent and a nice portion size for the price. The mobile signal was very poor, but it was good enough to get by without asking for the WiFi password. I helped collect the dinner money to pay the bill before we left at 2. The coach to the ground took around half an hour and it was there that we learned the side and a pretty decent one it was too.

We were in the ground twenty minutes before kick-off and I was a lot more impressed with the venue this time. They were banging out some decent tunes including Disco 2000 by Pulp. Both sides were in dodgy form, Wycombe for their part had not scored or won a game away from home in six games. This encounter started cagily and there weren't many chances for either side. Gradually, Wycombe took control though and they were denied a penalty for a blatant handball following a cross. It was another cross that created our opening goal as a ball was put in and scrambled home. It was former Grimsby man Aristote Nsiala that got the final touch, not great for him as the Bolton man scored an own goal. It put us in a good place going into half time and at one point we were back in second place in the league as results were going for us. Sadly, the leading lights found their form in the second half and we dropped back down into the playoffs. Bolton were not offering much in terms of shots on target and Wycombe confirmed their win on 62 minutes. Bolton keeper Remi Matthews came charging out of his goal and bought down a Wycombe man, earning a yellow card in the process. From the resulting penalty, Joe Jacobson did the honours and the points looked safe. Both sides had half-chances towards the end but there were no further goals. It was a good mood as I made my way back to the coach and headed back south. I listened to the local sports results on BBC Three Counties and then the 606 phone-in on BBC 5 Live. It was good to be able to edit my photos and update my blog from my Chromebook, a luxury that meant I remained productive on my journey. It'd be the usual case of getting home and watching Match Of The Day but the combination of a shortened show (due to the Winter Break) and a Wycombe win would hopefully mean that Sunday morning at 4 am would be more bearable than usual.


THE REEBOK STADIUM looks highly impressive from the outside but is a little less impressive once you get inside. Don't get me wrong, it's still a great ground, but it just hasn't got that wow factor, looking rather plain. I'd imagine it would look a lot better under floodlights. With a capacity of just under 30,000 for normal games getting tickets shouldn't be a problem. And the parking and facilities around the stadium are OK, unlike a lot of the other new builds.


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