Not that long ago, the idea of league game with Yeovil Town would have had supporters of Bolton Wanderers in a panic. It would have been assumed that the Whites had fallen several divisions in a short space of time, which hasn’t happened. At least not yet.
In terms of history, the two clubs couldn’t be more different. Bolton were founder members of the Football League. It took Yeovil 108 years after being founded to achieve that status, which is slow progress even by Dougie Freedman standards.
Now, just over a decade later the Glovers reside in the second tier of English Football having won promotion last season. At that rate of improvement, they’ll be playing Champions League football by around 2024, which is sooner than Manchester United, once the Trafford Trash have been eliminated from this year’s competition.
As Yeovil rose up the hierarchy, Bolton were hitting the Premier League and even Europe on two occasions, before a steady decline which saw relegation the season before last. The two clubs are where they deserve to be.
Away tickets for the fixture have sold well, with over 1,000 fans expected to make the journey. How many of them get to the ground remains to be seen. The drinking prowess of Whites followers, coupled with Somerset cider, has the potential to be messy. Some of the traveling horde may not be located for several weeks, although thorough preparation has been undertaken at the town’s Olde Man and Scythe training complex, which serves it’s own brand of apple knob calmer.
Which players Freedman will pick can only be guessed at. Anyone who had a good game last time out, is first in line for the chop, so expect Tim Ream to be pronounced half dead just before kick off which paves the way for the 74th return of Zat Knight.
Yeovil beat Sunderland in the FA Cup in 1949 so the Wanderers boss may plump for a defensive 4-6-0 formation with Lukas Jutkiewicz playing a holding midfield role and Joe Mason left at the services on the M5.
An article in the Bolton News this week, provided a few pointers into Freedman’s warped tartan mind. According to the headline, goal keeper Adam Bogdan is still terrified of relegation, although he said nothing to indicate that.
Bogdan ‘featured’ in the reverse fixture at the Reebok, allowing a tame shot from Ed Upson to squirm under his body giving the visitors an unexpected lead. Alex Baptiste spared his blushes with a late equaliser.
Bolton have a 100% record at Huish Park. Played one, won one in a League Cup tie in 2004 with goals from Henrik Perdersen and the quickly forgotten Julio Cesar, one of Sam Allardyce’s bargain basement players.
Can that be maintained? Who cares. The season is over for the Wanderers. Enjoy the road trip and all that cider. With a bit of luck the team bus will stop at Butlins in Minehead on the way back and Dougie Freedman will be taken prisoner and never seen again. You can but hope.
– Richard McCormick