It has been an absolutely brilliant year to be a Bolton Wanderers fan. Especially given the position we were in at the start of 2021. Languishing in the bottom half of the table, it looked like any chance for promotion was slipping away.
Then that January transfer window took place. People like Declan John, Ben Jackson, Kieran Lee, MJ Williams and Dapo Afolayan attended. Five players who massively changed the fortunes of the Wanderers.
The big turning point was the away game against Mansfield Town. Having lost 2-0 with less than twenty minutes to go, it looked like this was going to be one of those disappointing games we’ve seen too often. But oh no – something miraculous has happened. With five minutes remaining, it was 2-2. A bright spot on the outside seemed like a good result.
Although the Wanderers are not finished yet. With more time looming, Arthur ‘The King’ Gnahoua brought home a sensational winner who turned out to be the start of one of the most remarkable races the club have ever seen. Eleven of fourteen wins catapulted the Wanderers into the race not only for the play-offs, but also for automatic promotion.
A brilliant 4-1 win at Crawley on the last day of the season landed the promotion. For the vast majority of us unable to attend a game throughout the season, the chance to celebrate with the players outside of the hotel upon their return was a real highlight. Seeing a tipsy Eoin Doyle make his best Stone Cold impression Steve Austin on the shoulders of another Wanderers fan was a sight to behold.
Fortunately, at the start of the 20/21 season fans were able to watch the games and the first comeback against MK Dons did not disappoint. A classic 3-3 draw that featured a first-crier from Josh Sheehan and a final equalizer from Mr. Dioralyte himself, Alex Baptiste, was only the 90 minutes needed to welcome the fans home.
Seeing Dapo recreate the Okocha dance at Wimbledon, banishing Barry Knight’s demons at Ipswich and putting four behind Charlton were highlights for me on the road. Just being able to travel across the country again to see Wanderers is great, something we took for granted a few years ago. The away form may have worsened in the last few games, although I hope we can get back to the winning streak as soon as possible.
To end the year with the 16th best league record out of 92 professional clubs combined is an exceptional achievement.
There was also the charity game to raise funds for Gethin Jones’ mother and the Darby Rimmer MND Foundation.
It was just wonderful to see over 13,000 fans witnessing Sam Allardyce return in the Bolton canoe to once again manage his famous team. Seeing Okocha, Campo, Stelios, Super Kevin Davies, Nicky Hunt, Jussi, Ricardo Gardner, Super John and the rest all play at Reebok was really special.
Whether it was Big Sam and Jay-Jay recreating their dance, Campo slashing balls across the field like it’s 2006, or SKD with a yellow card challenge, it was a fantastic day for an even more special cause.
I would also like to say thank you to everyone who contributed to the site and podcast in 2021.
For everyone who tweeted, commented and enjoyed our content, thank you.
Finally, I just want to repeat something from last year’s New Years message. Again, it’s been a tough year for a lot of people mentally and it’s important to realize now more than ever – it’s good not to be well. If you feel you are having difficulty and cannot speak to a family member or friend, please contact us and call one of the following numbers:
Anxiety United Kingdom
Charitable organization providing support if you have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
Telephone: 03 444 775 774 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.)
A charity that helps people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
CALM is the Campaign Against Miserable Life. A charity offering a mental health helpline and online chat.
Telephone: 0800 58 58 58 (daily, 5 p.m. to midnight)
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 anti-stress support for men via SMS, chat and email.
Mental Health Foundation
Provides information and support to anyone with mental health issues or learning disabilities.
Promote the views and needs of people with mental health issues.
Telephone: 0300 123 3393 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.)
Do not panic
Charitable association providing support to people suffering from panic attacks and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Offer a class to help you overcome your phobia or OCD.
Telephone: 0844 967 4848 (every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Calls cost 5 pence per minute plus access charges from your telephone company
Support for people suffering from OCD. Includes treatment information and online resources.
Telephone: 0845 390 6232 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.). Calls cost 5 pence per minute plus access charges from your telephone company
TOC United Kingdom
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Telephone: 0333 212 7890 (Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (9 a.m. to midnight, every day of the year)
Tips for coping with domestic violence.
Telephone: 0808 2000 247 (24 hour telephone assistance)
Rethinking mental illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Telephone: 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or hopelessness.
Telephone: 116 123 (free 24 hour telephone assistance)
Emotional support, information and referral for people affected by mental illness, their families and their caregivers.
Textcare: comfort and care by SMS, sent when the person needs it most: www.sane.org.uk/textcare
Peer Support Forum: www.sane.org.uk/supportforum
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Telephone: Parents’ assistance 0808 802 5544 (Monday to Friday 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.)
(Other numbers can be found on the NHS website by clicking here)
Remember that someone loves you, even if you don’t have the capacity to love yourself right now.
Whether you stay indoors, go out, or fall sound asleep at midnight, I hope you all have a fantastic New Year. Hopefully it will be great again for our beloved Bolton Wanderers.