Sunday, 30 January 2011

Bolton Wanderers 0 Wigan Athletic 0

Stuffing mini sausage rolls and onion bhajis into our hungry mouths on the train, we searched for consolation. It had been better than throwing in the towel this morning, turning back and heading home. Hmmm, well. It was a new ground visited, another atmosphere sampled, another place seen. I suppose. In ten years, time when we have wives and jobs and commitments and things, we won’t be able to go off to Bolton Wanderers versus Wigan Athletic on a whim. Erm, probably just as well actually.

I think both myself and the author of Ravings of a Boston Boy have filed this in the ‘best forgotten’ category of the considerable number of matches we’ve seen this season. This FA Cup fourth round tie will be condemned to the scrapheap of our memories, with a post-it note attached saying ‘Caution: Best disposed of and not disturbed.’

Boston’s trip to Stalybridge was frozen off, joining the not inconsiderable list of fixtures which have to be shoehorned into the remaining three-and-a-bit-months of the season, and having not left my flat at that point it should have been too-tempting to crawl back into bed and wait for Jeff and the boys at three.

But the idea of an all-Premier League cup tie, when mooted, was quite a tempting proposition. Yes, Bolton and Wigan aren’t exactly the first sides the executives think of when trying to roll out the English football brand to new world markets, but it’s the kind of local tiff that might add a bit of spice to the assumed FA Cup romance. How very, very wrong I was.

Boston and Bolton. There was so much more than one letter’s difference to my afternoon. The Reebok Stadium is a fine venue, even when there’s whole stands of empty seats, and I couldn’t find fault in the atmosphere, though essentially the two sets of supporters were slinging the same insults at each other. Wigan were inbreds, then Bolton were inbreds. Wigan was full of curry shops, Bolton was full of turbans etc. Pretty much what I expected.

One mob of mouthy, tracksuited teenagers would stand up and lob insults, before another mob of mouthy, tracksuited teenagers would stand up on the other side of the police line and lob the same insults back. There was a raging debate about the loyalties of Ali Al Habsi, who is currently on loan at Wigan from Bolton, which probably does more to sum up the on-pitch entertainment than any match report. I truly suspect he wonders why he’s here at all.

There was amusement to be found in the regular stream of Wigan fans being escorted out by the stewards – ‘going home early to shag their sisters’ – and the blatant attempts of one police officer to chat up his attractive WPC colleague. “Let’s just take this romantic stroll down the touchline for the twelfth time so I can continue to woo you with the merits of playing Robbie Blake in a more advanced role...”

Probably sums up the day (Andy Pickwell)

I’ve written three paragraphs about the atmosphere because it proved infinitely more interesting than the bore draw which unfolded before us. Although it wasn’t the dreadful long ball-fest that I’d predicted in doom mongering texts to friends pre-match, there was little to encourage sitting up until nearly 1am for the ‘highlights.’

Wigan had the better of the chances, with Jussi Jaaskelainen making several fine saves, notably late on when the visitors realised that for the sake of humanity it would be better to score now and spare everyone the utter misery of a replay at the JJB stadium. Bolton, despite having a decent league campaign, showed little interest in advancing in the Cup and barely broke the half-way line until Stuart Holden was introduced late on.

Probably both sides were delighted with the replay. We were delighted to just get out and trudged to the adjacent Tesco in search of comfort. I guess that where football is concerned, you pay your money and take your chance and sometimes it’s just thoroughly miserable.

Next Match: Might go to Sheffield United on Tuesday, otherwise Worcester City vs. Boston United on Saturday.              

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