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Preview Bolton V Spurs, 20.04.02

Here is Brian Judson's preview of the game

Premier      Pl  W  D  L   For-Ag  Pts
Home          3  2  1  0    6 - 4   7
Away          2  1  1  0    4 - 3   4
Total(Prem)   5  3  2  0   10 - 7  11
Football Lge
Home (Div 1) 29 17  5  7   57 - 31  39
Away (Div 1) 29  9  3 17   38 - 52  21
Total(Div 1) 58 26  8 24   95 - 83  60
Football Lge
Home (Div 2)  2  2  0  0    3 - 1   4
Away (Div 2)  2  1  0  1    1 - 1   2
Total(Div 2)  4  3  0  1    4 - 2   6
Total(Prem)   5  3  2  0   10 - 7  11
Total(Div 1) 58 26  8 24   95 - 83  60
Total(Div 2)  4  3  0  1    4 - 2   6
Grand Total  67 32 10 25  109 - 92  77

After making a brilliant start to the season, Bolton have tumbled down the League and looked favourites to be relegated earlier this season. But some astute short-term transfer dealings have increased the chances of Bolton surviving the big drop. Personally, I hope Bolton survive as I like their way of playing football. They do not set out to defend their goal by practicing synchronised offside like our neighbours seem to prefer playing sometimes. They have some talented players coming through such as Michael Ricketts.

Bolton were once a powerful team whom no one relished playing. Those of you who never saw 'Nat' Lofthouse play will have no idea just how much battering a goalkeeper used to receive when charging the goalkeeper was permitted. Lofthouse scored twice against Manchester United in the 1958 FA Cup Final, which was played in the wake of the Munich Air Disaster. Harry Gregg, who was one of the survivors of that disaster, had a torrid time that afternoon. Certainly, Lofthouse's second goal would be promptly disallowed today and he would undoubtedly receive a booking for his shoulder charge on the unfortunate Gregg.

At one time, Bolton were one of the FA Cup kings. There have won the Cup on four occasions, 1958 being the last such occasion, and runners-up on three other occasions, including the famous 1953 Stanley Matthews Cup Final.

It is my view that the coming of the motorways led to the downfall of the smaller clubs like Burnley, Bolton and Blackpool. It enabled supporters to travel further afield and many in Lancashire chose to travel to Old Trafford for their Saturday afternoon entertainment. All three Lancashire clubs have spent time in the lower Divisions of the Football League - indeed Blackpool have been marooned down there for much of the time since 1981.

It has often been the case that a former player often makes a good manager with his old club. Sam Allardyce certainly seems to have done so at Bolton. He was appointed manager in October 1999 after Colin Todd left. Allardyce played as centre-half for Bolton for many years although I have no recollection of seeing him play when they have played at Tottenham. They certainly seem set to survive for a second consecutive season in the Premier League unlike their previous appearances in 1995-96 and 1997-98, when they were relegated.

Although I almost certainly saw Bolton play at Tottenham before April 1963, I do remember that game very clearly as we beat them 4-1. Marchi replaced Mackay, who was struggling with an injury (he was to miss the European Cup Winners' Cup Final) and scored one of the goals. The other goals were scored by Greaves, inevitably, White and Bobby Smith.

In those days, Bolton had a very small goalkeeper called Eddie Hopkinson. He was lithe and agile and played for England on 14 occasions between 1958 and 1960. In all, Hopkinson made 519 appearances for Bolton between 1956 and 1970.

Another game that sticks out in my mind is the Second Division game between the two clubs in season 1977-78. Tottenham were, if I recall correctly, top with Bolton second on the day we clashed at White Hart Lane. We beat them 1-0 thanks to a goal by Don McAllister. Our nerves were starting to show that afternoon and I am sure I was not the only spectator to chew my nails away.

It will be interesting to see how Bolton cope with the Premiership next season. The second season is always much more harder as clubs are more familiar with the set-pieces at dead ball situations, which is where most goals come from. It will be a shame if Bolton are quickly relegated again as their football is, as I say, quite attractive.

Whether Spurs can be bothered to work up much enthusiasm for the match remains to be seen. Hoddle may well say there is a lot to play for but the more realistic of us know that only a miracle and some pretty unexpected results will win us a place in Europe. I think that is just as well as I don't think we are quite ready for Europe just yet. The younger members in the first team squad really need another season of fine tuning whilst the questions raised about the older members of the squad have to be addressed.

In the circumstances, whilst I feel that Spurs ought to win the match, I shall not be surprised if we lose another game. Spurs have a long-term habit of losing to teams in the bottom half of the table, as we all know. Bolton have much more to play for than Tottenham, who have only their pride to play for.


Cheers, Brian

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