“BOLTON’s always a hard place to go,” said Blackburn manager Paul Ince, presumably referring to the difficulties of playing Gary Megson’s Wanderers rather than the perils of walking down Bradshawgate on a Saturday night.
Mind you, I wouldn’t blame him if it was the latter. The last time I spent a Saturday night out in Bolton, it finished with me very carefully side-stepping a couple having a blazing row outside a club. They looked as if they were about to come to blows. My money would have been on the woman.
Oh yes, Bolton knows how to let its hair down. However, not enough of its residents are letting their hair down at the Reebok Stadium. Bolton’s home attendances have dropped more than 10 per cent in the last year – and they often struggled to fill their ground even during the peaks of Sam Allardyce’s reign.
And so Wanderers tried to tempt a few more fans into the ground with free beer ahead of yesterday’s match against Blackburn. The first 1,000 fans to arrive at the club’s pre-match Fanzone were given a free lunchtime drink (with non-alcoholic alternatives available, I should add). Ticket prices were slashed too.
The result? A crowd of almost 25,000. Still the lowest in the Premier League yesterday, but a push in the right direction.
Last night’s final game: Bolton 0 Blackburn 0
Commentator: Dan O’Hagan
It’s only around 12 miles from Blackburn to Bolton. The two towns are linked by the A666 – the Devil’s road.
So Jason Roberts will perhaps have been glad that he only had a short journey home to reflect on the miss than cost his side victory.
Roberts, who scored Blackburn’s winner at the Reebok last season, headed a great chance wide from five yards.
“He’ll be disappointed, but we’ll pick him up,” Ince said afterwards. “We’ll get him in on Monday morning, have a laugh and then we’ll crack on again.”
It sounded like Roberts needed a free beer to cheer him up. A night out in Bolton might even do the trick – just as long as it’s not a Saturday.
1. Wigan: 3 (Capello difference: +2)
2. Blackburn: 3
3. Capello: 2
4. Middlesbrough: 2 (Capello difference: +1)
5=. Bolton: 2
5=. West Brom: 2
7. West Ham: 1 (Capello difference: +1)
8=. Fulham: 1
8=. Hull: 1
8=. Sunderland: 1
11=. Gubba: 0
11=. Arsenal: 0
11=. Aston Villa: 0
11=. Chelsea: 0
11=. Everton: 0
11=. Liverpool: 0
11=. Manchester City: 0
11=. Manchester United: 0
11=. Newcastle: 0
11=. Portsmouth: 0
11=. Stoke: 0
11=. Tottenham: 0
(NB: Teams level on points will be separated by Gubba difference: the number of times a team is last on Match of the Day with Tony Gubba commentating. If they are still level, they will be separated by Capello difference: the number of times a team is last on MOTD with Fabio Capello present.)