Well, where do I start? I am sure there were a few sore heads this morning. What a day! Football is like nothing else when it comes to stirring the emotions. Yesterday we experienced the full scale. From hope to despair then to pure unadulterated ecstasy all in the space of a few moments.
It was nothing less than we deserved and I am so pleased for all our supporters who have stuck with us throughout the entire campaign. That win was for you - the Bolton Family. I will never forget those joyous scenes at full time.
We were written off almost before a ball had been kicked at the beginning of the season and to find ourselves without a victory after 11 games must have brought fear into even the most eternal of optimists. Indeed, I’m led to believe that no team has ever survived a league campaign from such a torrid start.
But the manager stayed strong and we all kept our belief in him and the squad. After recovering from that very challenging start we started to get the results that gave us hope.
But as always there were many twists and turns along the route. I cannot believe how quickly the season went and before we knew it, we arrived at the last day knowing that we had to beat Forest and rely on our rivals to slip up.
Your support yesterday, as it has always been this season, was inspiring and magnificent. When it really matters you turn out in force and wear your hearts on your sleeves.
Our never-say-die spirit was on display and in full force. Lesser teams would have crumbled after our result against Burton Albion the previous week. The staff and players’ strength of character and will to succeed against all odds was on display yesterday and ultimately, along with your passion, got us over the line.
Many are describing what we achieved as a miracle and I cannot think of a better description. Yes, retaining our Sky Bet Championship status was what we had set out to achieve but to do so in such dramatic circumstances showed the character that resonates throughout the club. Even though the odds were heavily stacked against us and the time was ticking along we never gave up hope!
I well remember saying at the beginning of the season that if we finish one place above the bottom three then we will have won our own mini league. Well, we did it! Was it ever in doubt? Winning promotion last season was a tremendous achievement but like the manager has said and also in my opinion, retaining Championship status yesterday was probably an even bigger achievement insofar as it gives us the opportunity to go on and take the club back to the higher levels of where it truly belongs.
Truthfully, l think our season ticket holders, supporters, players, management and staff at the club, hotel and training ground have been magnificent and supportive throughout the long, testing and arduous season that this has been, but yesterday is the just reward for all of that and fully deserved.
This has really been a truly monumental ending to a very difficult and, at times, frustrating season, and when you take into account the success throughout the club of the under 18s and under 23s then and only then can we say that all in all we couldn’t have wished for anything else. Everybody throughout the club has given their all and played an essential part in ensuring we succeeded on every level of the playing field this season.
As they say, the table does not lie and all three sets of the tables that mattered to the club make for very good and pleasant reading today. Well done and congratulations to everyone.
I have to say that watching the supporters and players on the pitch yesterday, along with Lee, and all the people around me that have supported and assisted me over these last two seasons brought a lump to my throat and tears to my eyes. I cannot ever remember being so emotional about any football game in my entire life. I know l will remember yesterday for the rest of my life and l feel sure that you, our fantastic supporters, the players and management will do so too.
This season may be over but already the work for next season has begun. Over the next couple of weeks we will be releasing details of next season’s ticket prices and talking to players and their agents. The recruitment team have been busy over the recent weeks scouting players here and across Europe and we all have a very busy but exciting time ahead of us which was made easier and clearer after yesterday’s fantastic performance and result. But we cannot, and will not, rest on our laurels and the hard work of ensuring we consolidate our success on all levels this season now begins in earnest.
I along with Paul Aldridge, who throughout the last two seasons has been a true shoulder to lean on and has been absolutely fantastic in holding everything together and making sure one way or another that everything was in place and got done, will now restart the quest of looking for and hopefully finding investment to ensure we will be able to compete with the so-called richer clubs of this what is now in reality a mini Premier League, and give ourselves a realistic chance of challenging the top six for a place in the Premier League in the not too distant future.
I would also like to pay some praise to our Head of Finance Richard Eaton and his team to whom I owe so much for all their hard work and support. They have helped us overcome the difficult financial legacy we inherited.
Also, I would like to offer my gratitude to our Head of Marketing and Communications Paul Holliday and the marketing, communications and commercial teams for their never-flinching support and efforts they have all made in getting sponsors and the like on board and for ensuring our hospitality guests are well looked after.
Indeed, I must thank every single member of staff in all our departments for their hard work throughout this campaign.
At the recent AGM, I said l will be holding a no holds barred Q&A immediately after the end of the season and the details of date and time for this will be finalised this week. I hope as many of you as possible will come along to ensure that we are all singing from the same hymnsheet and have an open and transparent discussion and together constructively plan for next season.
Whilst the season might have finished life in and around the club has not and it would be remiss of me not to mention the up and coming events being held over the next few months at the stadium, hotel and suites:
The British Heavyweight Title contest between Sam Sexton and Hughie Fury – Saturday 12 May
Exclusive preview screening of football comedy Bromley Boys - 28 May - Monday 28 May
An Evening with Paul Gascoigne - Saturday 2 June
And of course The Killers and Little Mix concerts on Friday 13 July and Saturday 14 July respectively.
I would also like to thank Suzanne Speak and all her team at Bolton Whites for their hard work too.
Please show your support by attending these events. Also, please follow Bolton Whites Hotel’s social media channels to keep up to date.
Our End of Season sale over in Bolton Central has been extended to give everyone a final opportunity to pick up some memorabilia to remind yourselves of what a great season this has been for everyone. Please visit the store in person or shop online.
Enjoy the Bank Holiday and carry on with your celebrations - you all deserve it!