STRAIGHT FROM THE STAND: The return to Wembley will be special

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<p><figcaption class=Wanderers fans at Wembley last year (Image: PA)

Cherish the moment

by Liam Hatton

I’m not sure if you heard the news this week, but something pretty big has happened if you’re a Bolton Wanderers fan.

You could say it’s long overdue and you could say it’s a matter of not if, but when.

As a fan you cherish moments like this because they don’t happen that often. So looking back on the past week, you can finally say that Bolton has a new chant and it’s pretty good.

All jokes aside, Ian Evatt’s men have reached Wembley in the League One play-off final. Now that you’re the third best team in the league, you’d say they deserve to be here. However, the play-offs don’t always go this way.

An example of this is Oxford United, who finished 10 points behind Bolton and had to wait until the final day to secure a play-off spot. But credit where credit is due: they beat Peterborough United over two legs and are just as deserving of a place at Wembley as Bolton.

For all of Peterborough’s attacking prowess – which was a major concern for me personally in any possible match – they couldn’t get it done over two legs. So in retrospect you can look at Bolton’s games against Barnsley and say, ‘Well, they held on at the end and it shouldn’t have been as nervy as it was’.

That may be true, but they are still there, still very much alive. Vending machines were the target, but that’s gone, meaning we still have 90 minutes of our nerves being bombarded between now and 6:30 PM on Saturday, May 18, 2024.

The best and worst of Bolton were on display. Letting Barnsley back into the game showed that they can still be quite naive when defending a lead. But then again, Aaron Collins is pretty good, right? Dion Charles is shaking off any injury concerns, Nathan Baxter is at the back and he is truly phenomenal.

The whole team is brilliant, as winning a play-off semi-final and reaching Wembley should definitely not be overlooked. We as fans have been through some turbulent times over the past decade, but two trips to Wembley in as many years are a huge testament to the work of Evatt and all his staff.

As the famous song goes: ‘What will be will be’. Either way, Bolton still has a chance, and that’s all they can ask for. There’s no way we can write off Oxford purely on the basis of the 5-0 win a few months ago. This is a different team and anything can happen at Wembley.

If you thought the atmosphere on Tuesday was special, imagine what it will look and sound like a week from now.

For now we wait impatiently, full of nerves but also tension. We look at every possibility in our heads. We’re thinking about all sorts of things, but the most important thing of all is that Wembley will hear the best rendition of The Stone Roses’ Waterfall when it counts.

Tell me how, how does it feel? Pretty good at the moment.

The New Sky deal may not mean any major changes

by Steven Battersby

The Bolton News:

The Bolton News:

From August 10, when the 2024-2025 season starts, the new Sky TV deal with the EFL will also start.

Speaking to fellow supporters, there seems to be a fair amount of uncertainty about what this will mean when it comes to watching our team, whether live or via the new Sky arrangement.

I understand that all live broadcasts will be broadcast via the various Sky Sports channels and will replace live streaming via iFollow/various services provided by the clubs themselves, in our case Wanderers TV.

However, Wanderers TV will still broadcast all matches internationally and audio passes will be available, as is currently the case, for those wishing to hear match commentary. At least that is my understanding.

So let’s look at the statistics. And as we still don’t know which division we’ll be playing in next season (I have a feeling we’ll be in the Championship), I’ve based my thoughts on this current League One campaign.

When the schedules were announced last June, we would play as follows:

Saturday games: 17 home, 17 away. Midweek games: four home, four away. Christmas and Easter matches – two home, two away.

In reality, international breaks meant some of those Saturday games were moved to midweek, so the schedule looked something like this:

Saturday games: 16 home, 15 away. Midweek games: five home, six away. Christmas and Easter matches – two home, two away.

But for several reasons, this is what Wanderers actually faced:

Saturday games – 15 home, 14 away. Midweek games: six home, seven away. Christmas and Easter matches – two home, two away.

Sky changed the away match at Portsmouth from a Saturday to a Monday, and tragically the events of the game against Cheltenham led to the match being replayed on Tuesday, with a fitting tribute from both groups of fans to Iain Purslow.

If we now use the second set of figures above – assuming that the matches scheduled for the international break will inevitably be Tuesday matches (and they will certainly be in the Championship) – that leaves a total of 15 midweek, Christmas and Easter competitions, which will inevitably be shown live as before.

Sky has committed to showing all matches live on the opening and closing days and showing each club live at least 20 times. So doing the tallies, it seems like it’s safe to assume that there will be somewhere between three more and maybe five or six games to be swapped starting Saturday at 3 p.m.

Once again Sky has indicated that a significant number of these matches will be shown on Saturday afternoon at 12.30pm. So overall, it doesn’t look like our Saturday football fix will be significantly reduced, but will sometimes start earlier. This will certainly inconvenience those who travel from long distances to home games.

The ticket exchange system trialled for our final three home games of the season appears to be a sensible attempt by the club to help soften the financial blow that some season ticket holders will experience from matches being moved from Saturday afternoon, and I expect this will be the case . to move on to next season.

In summary, I don’t think this new Sky arrangement will change things as much as some people might fear, but the proof of the pudding will, as always in the food. If I had the choice, every match would start at 3pm on Saturday or at 7.45pm on Tuesday, but we live in a time when he who pays the whistle decides the tune.

So let’s hope it’s Bolton v Blackburn on Channel 403 next season and not Stevenage v Bolton (no disrespect to our friends at The Lamex Stadium). Fingers crossed, and what will be, will be.

Collins gives a wink

by Tony Thompson

The Bolton News: Collins arrived in Bolton in the month of JanuaryThe Bolton News: Collins arrived in Bolton in the month of January

The Bolton News: Collins arrived in Bolton in the month of January

I have to admit that when I read that we had paid £750,000 for a player who had scored four times for Bristol Rovers this season I was a little tense.

I’m not one of those encyclopedic football fans who can bash Dorking Wanderers’ starting XI or tell you how many Romanian left-backs have played in the Premier League. Remembering my kids’ names is about my limit.

I only had a vague memory of Aaron Collins as I think he had played well against Bolton in a match I watched literally weeks before he signed for us, and someone told me he was the reigning League One player of the year .

Fortunately, I’m not in charge of Ian Evatt’s scouting department and I’m happy to admit that a career in football is unlikely to come up for me in this lifetime.

Still, £750,000 is a lot of money. It wasn’t that long ago that the entire club had to appear in court for less than that and was threatened with bankruptcy. How times change.

A few months have passed and I understand what all the fuss was about. He’s one of those players who always looks like there’s a lightning bolt waiting at the end of his shoe. You can always tell these players because the crowd always shouts ‘shoot’ when he is in sight of the goal.

I remember watching Richard Sneekes back in the day and he had the same thing. He was like a walking cannon and every time he looked up and saw an opportunity to hit one, you could see the wince on the defender’s face.

Aaron’s goal against Barnsley was straight out of Sneekes’ top flight, past the keeper before he had a chance to think about it. He has now scored nine for Bolton, which makes sense considering he only arrived here at the beginning of February.

You feel a goal can come from anywhere in this team and that will be so important as we march on to Wembley. I have a strange feeling that this is Collins’ moment and that he will make the difference that day, but I read that the team has now scored 121 goals this season, which is more equal than my all-time favorite Bolton team with Colin won the championship. Todd in charge. I never thought I would see the day when that record would be broken.

That team received the award at the end of the season. Wouldn’t it be great if this one could beat Oxford and claim its own trophy?

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