After two successive away games, which brought a precious point in each, we are now back at Macron Stadium in front of the Sky Sports cameras for a Sky Bet Championship fixture against high-flying Aston Villa on Saturday evening.
To come away from those games at Reading and Sheffield Wednesday feeling somewhat disappointed that we didn’t win, speaks volumes for how well we played. It is not often that you see visiting teams dominate play and possession like we did at the Madejski Stadium and Hillsborough.
That said, with most of the other results going in our favour, we actually gained ground on the teams in and around us.
The travelling support in both games was awesome and the passion you all evoked from the first minute to the end as the players came off the field was inspiring to experience. I know the coaching staff and players really appreciate it. With nine games remaining this campaign, your support remains as crucial as ever.
I was pleased for Aaron Wilbraham to get on the scoresheet at Hillsborough and to net such a decisive strike right at the death. He is the perfect example of a player on the periphery of the first team and patiently waiting for his chance. He has been the consummate professional during his time at the club and his attitude is a shining example to the younger players in the squad.
Another player who deserves a mention is Adam Le Fondre, who has also had to remain very patient this season. He grabbed his chance against Reading and scored the goal. Although he was unlucky not to get a goal against Wednesday his work rate was exceptional and he ensured that the Owls’ defenders never had a minute’s rest!
The game against Villa is our designated Bolton at Home Community Fixture and I’d like to welcome Bolton at Home and all their guests to Macron Stadium as well as all the supporters who will be attending a match at Macron Stadium for the very first time.
Bolton Wanderers Football Club is central to the wider Bolton Family and we are proud to be at the heart of our great town’s community. Please continue to support all the fantastic work that the Bolton Wanderers Community Trust does in the town. We will be donating £5 from each adult ticket sold in the Carrs Pasties North Stand to the five designated charity partners of the Trust, one of whom is Derian House, who we will be delighted to welcome as special guests on Saturday evening.
As has been commented elsewhere, this Friday will represent two years to the day since I became involved at the club. I cannot believe where those 24 months have gone and what has happened in that time! There have been some tough challenges, which have been publicised elsewhere, but thankfully those have been consigned to history.
At the time, the club were relegated to the third tier of English football for the first time in over twenty years and there was a purported lack of passion from the players and unrest on the terraces among the supporters. It’s fair to say that the club was at its lowest ebb for a generation. We put Jimmy Phillips in temporary charge of the club following the departure of the previous manager Neil Lennon.
We didn’t want to rush the appointment of a new manager and coaching staff and that is why I waited as long as I did to ensure I got my first choice at the helm, Phil Parkinson.
For the club to win promotion at the first attempt whilst under a transfer embargo was nothing short of miraculous. As far as I am aware, this was the first time it had been achieved.
The squad that Phil and his staff have now assembled is the strongest and most dedicated, committed group of players we have had in my two years at Macron Stadium. The fight, spirit, character and camaraderie amongst them has come to the fore in recent months and has enabled us to get into a position which puts our destiny in our own hands following a dreadful start to the season.
A number of players will be out of contract at the end of the season and new contract discussions with several of them and their agents are already taking place. Others will follow over the coming weeks and I will not forget the fantastic job they have done in getting us into this position where our fate is under our own control. There is an old adage in football about players playing for their contracts and this is very much the case!
The task ahead is to ensure that we retain our Championship status and to have a commercially prudent business plan going forward, which will allow us to progress and aspire to climb the heights the club enjoyed not too long ago.
The success of the Eddie Davies Academy, and in particular the Under-18s and Under-23s who both top their respective leagues, has been a source of pride and thoroughly vindicates our decision to retain Category 2 status. I firmly believe in our Academy structure and I will continue to ensure that the club invests in this very important area of the football club.
The Dome was critical to maintaining that status and I cannot thank enough the Bolton Wanderers Development Association for their support. As well being used by the local community under the auspices of the Community Trust, it has also played a crucial role for the first team in providing a suitable venue for them to train during the recent bad spell of weather.
The Hotel and in particular the Premier Suite have hosted an increasing amount of events which is putting us back on the map as an all-round entertainment and sporting venue.
The stadium is a 365-day-a-year operation and we cannot solely rely on income from the turnstiles and hospitality suites. Therefore, it is imperative that we enhance all our other revenue generating capabilities.
With two headline concerts returning to Macron Stadium this summer, in the guises of Little Mix and The Killers, this is something that we all should be proud of.
There is still time for supporters to buy our Final Five ticket package which commences at the Aston Villa game this Saturday. From just £80 adults will be able to watch our last five home games, which offers a tremendous saving compared to buying tickets on a match-by-match basis. You can buy your Final Five tickets by clicking HERE.
Our replica kit sale also ends this Saturday, so you still have time to buy your home and away shirts for just £29.99 each and also take advantage of the 50% off printing offer. Make sure you wear your colours with pride as you get behind the team for the remainder of the season. Click HERE to visit bwfcdirect.co.uk and buy your shirt online.
We really need to make Macron Stadium a cauldron of noise which generates an intimidating atmosphere for all the visiting teams. As I have mentioned, the support on our travels has been inspiring and phenomenal. There is no place like home, so let’s try and match that for these final five games.
Over these past two years, I’ve been enthralled by the support I have received from all our staff, season ticket holders, box holders, suppliers and sponsors, without whom none of this would have been remotely possible. I therefore offer you all my sincere gratitude.
I’d also like to thank Brett Warburton and Michael James for their support and financial assistance throughout my tenure at the club. They have the club’s best interests at heart and I’m very grateful for what they have done for the club.
It would be remiss of me not to mention Eddie Davies and the huge financial assistance and support he has given the club for many years. Over the past two years, this has continued and he has always made himself available whenever I have sought his advice and guidance. I cannot begin to tell you how passionate about the club he is and always will be. That the Academy bears his name is indicative of his love for Bolton Wanderers Football Club. He may not have got everything right, but he has tried his best and I hope I can try to emulate as much as he did during my time at the club.
As far as I am able to and wherever possible, I will always endeavour to be open and transparent with you all. So, if you ever wish to get in touch with the club please contact our head of marketing and communications Paul Holliday via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, we will be filing our audited accounts later this month on time and these will be publicly viewable on our website. We will also be holding the AGM and we’ll be in a position to confirm the date very soon. Our debt levels are now at the lowest for many years and the last quarter’s management accounts were the best since I have been involved at the club. A lot of hard work is still required going forward but I have nothing but praise for the club’s staff for their passion, diligence and loyalty to the cause.
Let’s be loud, let’s be proud and let’s get behind the boys as we take on Aston Villa this Saturday.