Chris Lakey: A Bolton fan's view of Norwich... and the mystery Pink Un bung
PUBLISHED: 06:00 23 February 2019 | UPDATED: 08:30 23 February 2019
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Football can be a nasty old world.
Bitter recrimination, social media abuse... we’ve seen it after certain games this season when some supporters haven’t taken kindly to a result.
Because of circumstances - City being top of the table and all that - it is often the opposition fans whose comments attract the most notice. City fans are pretty happy with their lot and to be honest, I find them quite a witty bunch.
But get the wrong side of certain clubs’ fans and, well, it’s best to be prepared when you wade into your Twitter account on a Saturday evening.
Sometimes, though, someone bucks the trend, which is why I am happy to relate an email chat with a Bolton fan. I have his permission to reproduce his words, but not only do they restore a little faith in footy fans, they also show what joy this Norwich City side are currently bringing to supporters..
This arrived on Saturday evening after City’s 4-0 win at Bolton...
I have just returned from the Bolton v Norwich match. It was a drubbing but I have to say how good it was to see such good football played at what I still refer to as The Reebok. Norwich were different class and by far the best team to visit Bolton this season.
I wish the club every success for the remainder of the season and to be promoted to the Premier League. Please remember us next year when we languish in Division One.
How times have changed since the Allardyce era when we feared playing nobody!
After responding, a second email soon landed...
I have lived in Bolton for 32 years and am now 76 years old. I am a season ticket holder in the Upper East Stand. I live in Heaton which is about three miles from the stadium. I remember players like Youri Djorkaeff, Ivan Campo, Jay-Jay Okocha, Per Frandsen, Eidur Gudjohnsen and Bruno N’Gotty.
I watched them in the old Fourth Division under Phil Neal. Then we had Bruce Rioch and the club rose to the Premier League and we had the Sam Allardyce years, finishing sixth in the Premier League one year, We drew with Bayern Munich in Europe. I saw them play in Marseille, where they lost, but they were great days.
We now find ourselves in a desperate situation with HMRC having issued several petitions to wind the club up this season. Players have been paid late, the Bolton News football reporter has been banned from the ground by the chairman, as has (former player) John McGinlay who had the temerity to criticise the chairman’s running of the club on BBC Radio Manchester. All the players are free transfers that other clubs do not want.
How I envy supporters of such a stable club as Norwich City. Enjoy the good days – football fortunes can change very quickly.
I’d suggest it is pretty rare that a football fan of an ‘opposition’ team takes the trouble to put his feelings into words - especially when his team has just been thumped. Again. It must be desperately disheartening for Bolton supporters, whose season has been affected by so many issues off the field. It isn’t their fault, but they are feeling the full adverse effect of it.
Eric’s words should also be a warning to other fans and their clubs - just how things can change so quickly.
The era he talks of is not that long ago: in 2003-04 they finished eighth in the top flight, then sixth, eighth and seventh. Two of those seasons saw them qualify for the Uefa Cup. Now they look destined for League One football.
At the snap of finger and thumb, a football club can change: the whim of a chairman, the poor managerial appointment, a bank that says no. On the other hand, get it right and it can explode when you least expect it: Norwich appointed Daniel Farke to a response of ‘Daniel Who?’. They signed the ‘flop’ that is Teemu Pukki. They sold millions of pounds worth of talent. They were destined for a year of struggle (at best).
How wrong can some of us be?
Eric’s words speak volumes and just for him, I would love to see Bolton avoid the drop and their fortunes take an upturn. Because football needs more fans like Eric.
It’s nice to know you’re appreciated – as the boys from the Pink Un discovered this week when a £100 cheque for their services arrived through the post from an appreciative reader.
Paddy Davitt, Michael Bailey and David Freezer obviously leave an impression…
”I don’t read or require any papers etc as I’m getting old – I used to stand at the River End on railway sleepers and cinders and pay at a tin shack, so you guess I’m getting old.
I manage to use an iPad with help and really rate the Norwich City three main pundits who always give a balanced view of games.
However, I do think one should pay a little towards the costs.”
Yours faithfully, Robin R Targett.
Robin didn’t include an address – the only clue is that the letter had a Scottish postmark. But thanks to his friendly bank, a thank you letter is on its way... with the cheque, of course!