Quentin X asks the question.
Since I started writing about Bolton Wanderers, back in the heady days of 2008, I have been called a few things by people who have disagreed with my stance on certain Wanderers related topics. Some people think that having a £150 million (and rising) accounting black hole is a good thing because the chairman is a fan. I do not. Some people thought that Gary Megson was a messiah. I did not. And some people called me pond life. And the last time I looked, I didn’t have gills.
However, I have never been lumped into the same bracket of fans who, supposedly, bring the club down. Until last week. There I was, sitting at my desk on my night shift last Monday, when Twitter informed me that I had a message from someone. Let’s call him Max. Max was disgruntled with my article about Zat Knight. And had every right to be as I don’t expect the world and his mother to agree with everything I say. Even my own mother doesn’t do that.
Max is of the opinion that Zat Knight is our best defender. I thought, with the date being March 31st, that he was getting in his April Fool early. This turned out not to be the case. Max continued:
“Not rating a player is one thing, ouright slating him when he gives is (sic) all and when he’s better than some is another. Not what I call support. You epitomise everything wrong with some of our fans, you don’t go to game then slate the easy targets”
Well, I admit that Knight IS an easy target, but it’s not as if I haven’t been slating him since Aston Villa fans paid for his taxi north in July 2009. The article was based on his history at the club compared to the performances that he has recently put in. So, I was slating the poor player that I have seen against, ironically, the “improved” player that I haven’t.
However, this got me thinking. Am I actually in a position to have a go at the players that I haven’t seen? Does not going to any games preclude me from commenting?
Of course, I’d argue no. There is no formula that tells you when you are allowed to have an opinion and not have one. But, if there were, I’d say it was on my side. Thirty years supporting the club through all four divisions, travelling from University for every home game and not even living in the town for one single day of my life should show I’ve put the mileage in. Granted, I haven’t been this year but I don’t live within two hundred miles of the stadium and work more Saturdays than not. And I have a family who would like to see me on the days that I’m not slaving away. I get to the games that I can, still putting in the miles. And the money.
Max says on his Twitter page that he is eighteen years old. This means that he probably never set foot in Burnden Park. To him, the pain of relegation to Division Four is as far removed as the last time the club won a major trophy is to me. I’d say that when you add up the number of games we’ve been to, the odds would be in my favour as having been to more. To me, that gives me the right to slate players and praise players as I see fit. I listen and watch (legally or otherwise) enough games to know more or less what’s going on. I wouldn’t say that I could write a 100% accurate match report, but can recognise when a player is playing well or not. Max appears to go to every home game and that gives him the right to do the same.
But that’s me. What about someone who has been to one Bolton game in their whole life and slags the team off? It’s doubtful there is anyone like that, such is the masochistic nature of your average Bolton fan. But living where I do you find a large number of people who don’t necessarily follow the nearest league teams (Wycombe and Watford), but those from north and south London and the one on the border of Salford and Trafford. These are people who have never set foot inside Stamford Bridge, The Emirates or Old Trafford. What right do they have to slag their teams off?
Well, when I was at University, my house mate was an Arsenal fan and had been to Highbury twice, but was apoplectic when The Arse would usually lose to Bolton. He had the Arsenal top, one of those funny little kits you stick in the back window of your car and spoke with a Wiltshire accent. (Should that not be a Wilshere accent? – Ed.)
However, he would pay money every year to just be on the waiting list for a season ticket. That’s a waiting list. He paid money to the club but could hardly get to Highbury. It wasn’t his fault, it was just circumstance. And what of the 22,000 people who couldn’t get into Highbury but can get into The Emirates? Did their opinion only become valid in 2006? Of course not. Most fans, whether they have been to a game or not, will put money into their clubs coffers in one way or another, either by buying a shirt or paying Sky for the privilege of watching their team on television. Is their opinion not valid? Listening to the likes of 6-0-6 or Stan Collymore, you would lean on the side of absolutely not. But an opinion is still valid, even if it is wrong headed in other people’s eyes. It is for those other people to argue the opposite.
The thing is, if you’re a genuine supporter of a football club, then you’re entitled to whatever opinion you have, be it positive or negative. I would say the further down the leagues you go, the more your opinion counts. I’m sure that the 200 fans who regularly turn up for my local non-league club’s games will be glad to hear that.
Bolton fans, like every team’s fans, like to have a go at each other. It is generally just gently joshing, although there is always a darker side lingering away on some forums. Max had a point that he wanted to make and he made it. And this is my reply.
As for Max, who has great hair by the way, I’ll just say this.
If Zat Knight really is our best defender, then we’re in more trouble than I thought.
Now, which way is Charlton?
– Quentin X