Away Day Alfie’s Guide To Bolton v Chelsea

Bolton Wanderers away – Monday 24th January 2011

Allocation:   2825 – tickets still on sale – thank you SKY TV

Travel:  Car or coach seems the only viable option as the last train to London leaves Horwich Parkway @ 23:27 And gets into London via Manchester at 07:28 Tuesday morning a bargain at £184 return!

By Car – Come off the M61 at junction 6 you can see the ground on your right – go round the roundabout and onto A6027

Parking:  Large car park at the ground but it does take some time getting out afterwards – loads of alternatives in various factory units and schools within 10 to 20 mins walk to the ground

Boozers:  The Beehive tends to be the popular pub for away fans – there are other pubs in the area but generally are for home fans only, but you may get lucky if you don’t wear colours. There is a Harvester opposite the ground but they have a strict home season ticket/match ticket policy. There are also bars in the shopping centre behind the ground.

Police/stewarding:   Never any problems at Bolton though fans do get ejected for swearing and gesticulating usually to the home fans nearest the away end – in general though a friendly ground

Away end:   Usually allocated the upper tier and a third of the lower tier – however for this Monday night fixture we have been allocated the lower tier only – a decent stand never the less with good facilities one of the better newer grounds in the premier league

Home fans:  Not much to say about Bolton fans really – met a few on England travels and always seem like good lads – usually gobby gits in the seats to our right but they do their best to create an atmosphere – very similar to Blackburn fans friendly when you have a chat very typical local northern support

Memories of Bolton

Bolton always seem to pop up in the history of Chelsea Football Club from  avoiding relegation to the old third division, the joy of a league title – the first for many of us, to the sad death of Matthew Harding travelling home from a league cup tie

1983 – the very future of our club at stake – thousands of Chelsea chanting “if we lose we’ll smash your ground”  – 15 minutes to go Clive Walker scores – followed by absolutely mental celebrations; this was a huge win for Chelsea and so important in the history of our famous football club because a loss could have meant oblivion.

1996 – Matthew Harding  – having got home from this game in the early hours I was woken by a phone call from my dad asking if I’d heard the news that a helicopter had crashed whilst returning from the Bolton game and there had been casualties – programmes from the Bolton Chelsea game had been found in the wreckage – immediately I knew that Matthew Harding was one of the victims; I just had that feeling – the dreadful news was finally confirmed leaving the Chelsea support in shock. Many people headed to Stamford Bridge to lay flowers, scarves etc and this continued for many days – Matthew Harding was a popular figure in a time of unrest that saw boardroom battles between Bates and Harding; Bates shamed himself only a year after Harding’s death describing Harding as a vile man – Bates may be rich but you can’t buy class

2005 – Champions – we all knew it was coming but for all the blues that were there it was a day never to forget – Chelsea were champions with a 2 nil win and the celebrations started in earnest both at the Reebok and back in the streets and pubs of Fulham Broadway – when the team finally left the pitch the Chelsea travelling support congregated outside the main entrance and when the Chelsea team appeared mass hysteria broke out with Chelsea players climbing onto the roof of the team coach and dancing and singing along with the supporters. Many fans travelled back to Manchester for a night on the beer, partying into the night, similar events took place back in London with the Kings and Fulham roads packed with fans and off licences doing a roaring trade.

1978 – whilst not relevant for an away guide I can’t not mention Chelsea coming back from 3 nil down to winning 4-3 at the Bridge in 1978 – the winning goal being scored by Sam Allardyce slicing into his own net – the noise at the Bridge that day was deafening even though only 19,500 attended but reports the following day said it felt like a 60,000 crowd – what a game!