Last Time We Met...Bolton Wanderers
Owen Coyle`s Premier League Bolton Wanderers are the visitors to Turf Moor on Tuesday night in the third round Carling Cup clash and we review the games we played against them last season in the top flight and relive some of the emotions.
Until this year, games against Bolton had not really ignited much passion or excitement amongst the two sets of fans despite the fixture being a local derby. There had never really been any bitter rivalry or axe to grind unlike of course that experienced when we play against Blackburn Rovers and to a lesser extent, Preston North End. In January 2010 that would change probably forever but first we recall the first match we played against them in the 2009-10 season.
Bolton of course were now an established top flight club and it had been almost exactly nine years since we had last played them. They were promoted from the Championship in the 2000-01 season and had remained in the top flight since that time. On the 23rd December 2000, Bolton came to Turf Moor and beat the Clarets 2-0 although earlier in the season we had managed to pick up a point in a 1-1 draw at the Reebok.
Nine years later and newly promoted Burnley were in the top flight for the first time in 33 years and on Boxing Day 2009 they squared up against Bolton at Turf Moor.
It was a six-pointer of a game with both clubs fighting to avoid relegation. Before this match Burnley were in 14th spot but just three points clear of third from bottom Bolton.
This day was in hindsight an influential one despite the Clarets only managing a dull, uninspiring draw .Burnley were embarking on their traditional Christmas slump and could only muster a 1-1 draw in this Premier League clash.
Little did we know at the time too that Bolton manager, Gary Megson`s days were numbered and that our own manager, Owen Coyle would soon be his replacement but more of that later.
A record crowd for this season at the time turned up on Boxing Day braving the icy, cold and slippery conditions. 21,761 fans packed Turf Moor and yet somehow the atmosphere seemed lacklustre and far too quiet! Were we all far too stuffed with Turkey, Christmas pudding and the rest or simply just too cold to break out in song? Both sets of fans failed to inspire each other and it was all a rather subdued affair for most of the game.
Owen Coyle selected the following team for the match:
Jensen, Mears, Duff, Bikey, Jordan, Alexander, Eagles, McDonald, Elliott, Nugent, Fletcher
Subs : Penny, Kalvenes, Edgar, Gudjonsson, Guerrero, Blake, Thompson
A goal by Matthew Taylor from a direct free kick after 29 minutes was enough to give Bolton the half-time lead against an under par and lacklustre Clarets team before Nugent headed in Wade Elliott`s cross to equalise after 56 minutes. It was the Clarets who then surged forward looking for the winning goal with the roar of the Clarets fans urging them on at long last. We looked a much better, determined side in the second half and had countless opportunities to put the game beyond Bolton`s reach. We just couldn`t take our chances and make the possession count though and in the end we had to settle for a disappointing draw.
Just four days later on December 30th 2009, Bolton announced that Gary Megson, never a favourite with the Trotters fans, had been relieved of his duties and that the search was on for a new manager It did not take long for speculation to build that Owen Coyle, a former player at Bolton was in the frame to take over but Clarets fans were optimistic that Coyle would stay after making a number of loyalty statements in the past. We were all badly let down though when it was revealed on 8 January 2010 that Coyle had been appointed as manager of Bolton Wanderers. The bitter feelings were made even worse when it became clear that he would also be taking virtually the whole of our backroom staff with him including Steve Davis who was thought to bleed Claret blood! It was awful timing and left the club in a terrible position, manager-less in the middle of a transfer window and demoralised with the relegation places still staring us in the face. In the space of nine days Coyle had become hero to zero and God to Judas and for some Clarets fans he would never be forgiven for what he did to this club at such a crucial time. The poisoned chalice was picked up by Brian Laws who became our controversial new manager on the 13th January 2010.
Another thirteen days later on the night of Tuesday 26th January 2010 the scene was set for one of the most passionate and bitter games against Bolton in our history. If there had been any justice in this world, the Clarets would have come away from the Reebok with three points and their pride intact but it wasn`t to be. Clarets fans turned up en masse to verbally protest against Coyle and the rest of his traitorous crew. Shouts of Judas rang around the ground throughout the game. Banners and phallic-shaped objects did little to enhance Susan Boyle`s reputation but alas it was all in vain. In the end we lost 1-0 and in truth we did not play very well, especially after losing both McCann and Alexander to injury within the first fifteen minutes of the game. Who knows the story may have been different had they avoided injury, we certainly looked the most likely to score in the first 15 minutes of the game. We lost our shape after that though and struggled for most of the game.
Bolton to be honest were dire, a dreadful bruising side who only seemed to have one idea, boot the ball up to Lee in the hope he could weave some magic. Either that or they were falling like flies to try and get the referee to award a set-piece from which they had scored most of their goals that season. It is just so sad we had no response to those tactics and at one stage even seemed to outdo them in the hoof-ball stakes! After Lee scored his goal in the 35th minute, the Clarets basically lost all confidence and in the second half it is difficult to recall any testing shot on goal that Burnley had and it was clear for all to see there was no apparent drive or passion to try and get an equaliser. One of the most disappointing nights I can recall in many a season and one that did nothing to allow closure on the hatred a lot of Clarets now had for Coyle. He even had the audacity to try and wave at the Clarets fans at the end of the match expecting to get some sort of appreciation. He got none and probably never will.
The majority of Clarets fans I suspect believe that had Coyle stayed we could have survived in the Premier League based on our home form alone. Brian Laws task (putting aside whether we think he was the right man for the job) was of course to avoid the drop but I think the club were so demoralised by then that his chances were always slim. The rest was history with Bolton surviving and the Clarets being relegated after just one season.
Burnley v Bolton games though at least will now have added spice when we meet in the future and that first bit of spice will be tasted this Tuesday night in the Carling Cup clash. Come on you Clarets!
If you want to read more about the games in 2009-10 you can visit our match archive by clicking these links:
Festive Flop 1-Bolton & All That
Emotional Low at the Reebok on All Fronts