1. When did you first start supporting Bolton?
I honestly don't know, all my conscious life I guess.
Let me explain.
My grandparents lived just across Orlando Bridge, where GUS is (is it still there even, I don't know?), and I guess my parents must have been in the habbit of dropping me off there a lot on Saturdays so that my mam and dad didn't have to trail around town with a baby. I guess without knowing or understanding, I saw from my early days of life that a crowd on people would all head across Orlando Bridge in the early Saturday afternoons and flow back again a few hours later. In between times occasional muffled roars (which was the noise travelling from Burnden when we scored) could be heard, and as the autumnal nights drew in, the glare of our Burnden'sfloodlights in the near distance.
As a toddler I used to stand and play by the bridge and watch the steam trains go by, and see the fans in their scarves and rattles (yes I remember them) going to and later, from the match. I even knew by how by their demeaner, if we had won or not and soon got to asking them what the score was and who scored for 'us'?
I guess I was even too young to remember going to my first games at Burnden but I can and do remember waiting for Monday mornings to come round to be able to talk about the match in the school playground - which were flagged and concreted back then, no child friendly surfaces in those days!
Like all kids we used to play football all the time, before school started, at breaktimes and at dinner, in the school yard - from one end to the other and fully from side to side - even though the rest of the school kids of all ages played there doing marbles, the girls skipping or just socialising with each other and the boys swapping bubble gum cards or whatever non football playing nerds did back then.
Occasionally during a game we knocked over and made some of the younger (and not involved with the footy) school kids cry and even at still a young age myself I always felt guilty when that happened, I guess I've always had a soft soul.
Of course when we played we pretended to be the star Wanderers players at the time such as Nat Lofthouse but because back then I wasn't such a good footballer and ended up in the nets (not because I was the last kid to be picked - although I never was the first!) but because even in my young days I could use my brain to think about which of my mates playing against me would shoot right away, or would try to hang about on the goal line (a titty liner) to tap in the ball (tennis ball) from close in, or was all one footed, etc, etc, and I would try and plan to be in the way of the ball as much as I could. So I guess Eddie Hopkinson was the player I used to say I was.
Happy days, a very long time ago now though.
2. Who is your favourite Bolton player of all time?
The first time my eyes were opened was when Jimmy Armfield signed us Tony Dunne from United and Peter Thompson from Liverpool, both players at the fag end of their illustrious careers. Neither had the pace they must have had when they were younger but Dunne (a full back) seemed to know exactly where to be to cut out the passes to the winger he was marking, or to be in just the right place to be able to tackle his man. I never recall seeing him out of position. I used to watch him the whole match to try and work out how he did it. I knew at once he was a different class than any other player I'd seen up to then.
Similarly Peter Thompson (a winger - in the winning 1966 World Cup squad) was the same, he seemed to be able to take and control the ball in an instance, no matter how and at what speed it was delivered to him, he made it look so easy and natural, which I guess it was to him. He had no trouble either at avoiding tackles. Back in those days no prisoners were taken in a tackle (I know, I used to be a bit of a hard man myself on the pitch and could dish it out - and take it - if needed to be done). Thompson must have had eyes in the back of his head, as he seemed to be able to just drop the shoulder' or skip over the tackle, leaving the Neanderthal defenders laid out flat on their backs and looking stupid, so, so often! He beat the defenders with exquisite ball skills and cunning rather than raw pace and laid so many goals on a plate with his crosses for the likes of John Byrom and Gary Jones, etc.
Bolton had been a club sinking down the league for a number of seasons from when I was first about, so to see how football could be played - as a beautiful game - was a treasure to behold for me.
I always loved the blood and guts and the commitment to the badge - I still do - but for the first time for me I knew there was another dimension of playing that I had not glimpsed before.
3. What has been your favourite Bolton match of all time?
The Reading Play off Final.
I did taken my three young nephews to Wembley for the first time and they were that young age and in love with football so much that you could see the wonderment on their faces. Well they were close to tears not long later when we gave away a stupid penalty and whilst we were two nil down.
Because I could see them hurting I told them that Reading would miss the penalty and we would go on to win the match - what else could I say to stop them from crying?
Luckily they were at that age where they believed everything I told them, more so when they missed the penalty and more and more so as each Bolton goal went in!
It was such a wonderful turn around and brilliant match in itself, but for my nephews to be there and be so thrilled and exhilarated to have witness it themselves and drink in the atmosphere and to know what joy football can bring was an amazing moment and one that I guess had never occurred again for us until the wonderful end to the Forest game.
Football and family sharing the rollercoaster to success - what could be better?
4. What are your thoughts on the season so far?
Brilliant! It's certainly shut up the anti-Anderson crowd who predicted nothing but gloom and doom all summer long and the negative ninnies who constantly told us we would not be able to sign the right number and quality of players to keep us up and nor would Ken be spending a penny on a striker ever.
Amazingly it looks as though Ken and Phil know exactly what they are doing and the Anderson haters and the 'we're doomed' brigade doesn't - well who would have thought that?
Well me for one!
5. What are your thoughts on Phil Parkinson?
He's done an amazing job whilst be under players embargos, no money for transfers (until Magennis - what an astute buy for just £200k!), having his best players at the time sold (Clough, Holding, Madine), having no target man - for half of last season, players going on strike, and clearly not having the final word on who gets bought and who gets sold.
The unenlightened ones moan ceaselessly about his defensive team set ups but he's right, you need to have a structure for the players to be able to play in and we were never going to play tippy tappy football when we had defend deep in front of Wheater and Beevers with 35 year old Karl Henry (he did a wonderful defensive midfield job but he's certainly not De Bruyne or Inesta) and Darren Pratley.
Now were we really?
He's been able to bring in (been given?) better quality players to work with and already the results are looking better. OK only early days this season but at least we aren't starting at the back of the pack (2 points after 11 games) this time and having to guard every point by defending to the death each and every game like we had to last season.
6. Where do you think we'll finish this season?
Like everyone else I'd be happy just to stay up and pay off a chunk of the BluMarble loan (thanks Dean!) if we can.
Our fantastic start is probably a false dawn but let's enjoy it for now and aim to be mid table or better if we can - and if we do manage to get one or two more in who are capable of scoring goals - then there's no reason we couldn't at least do that.