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Editor`s note: So then, a part two. I hope you enjoyed the first installation of the project. The second part continues very much in the same vein- three fans writing about their favourite players of all time. If you did not read part 1 then I suggest you do so before reading this piece here
As I said, we support a truly terrific club with great fans, and in the near future I`ll be doing my best to get you the fans involved with this site as much as possible.
The first piece of part two here is by Richard McCormick, another former Editor at Vital Bolton, who now writes a column for the Famous Manny Road Blog. He talks about his hero, Peter Thompson.
Peter Thompson, receives a pass on the left wing. With the ball looking as though it’s tied to his foot, he jinks to the right, to the left and to the right again. The two players who’ve come to challenge are now several yards from where they intended to be. He delivers a perfectly weighted cross and Sam Allardyce runs between two defenders and nods hello to the goalkeeper. Bolton are one up.
Such a thing wasn’t unusual for the ex-Liverpool man, a player whose type you don’t see these days. He was an out and out winger, who took delight in turning full-backs inside out before finding the killer pass.
That Thompson played for Bolton, or for anyone at that time, was a surprise to some. He’d had a fantastically successful career at Anfield, with sixteen caps for England thrown in. But after a second operation on a troublesome left knee, the surgeon advised that his playing days were over.
Manager Bill Shankly, notoriously unsympathetic to his injured staff, was more blunt. “You are a cripple!” he barked. Wanderers boss Jimmy Armfield had other ideas. He signed Thompson in January 1974, after a short spell on loan, just in time to play in a cup-tie at home to Stoke, with over thirty nine thousand fans attending one of the first ever Sunday games.
By the time he came to Burnden Park, Thompson had lost pace, which made his ability to go past players even more impressive, but the skill and balance remained. He used to jog down the left side of the pitch, pushing the ball with his right foot, daring the approaching defenders to take it off him. Those who tried were swiftly bypassed. Others chose to stand off and were turned one way and then the other, to such an extent that they had to have their limbs unravelled after the final whistle.
Thompson played four seasons for Bolton Wanderers, finishing when the state of his injuries would no longer let him continue. But by then, promotion to the top flight of English football for the first time since 1964 had been achieved. It was a fitting way to bow out, for one of the classiest players to pull on the white shirt.
The second contribution to this project on Jussi Jaaskelainen is by Callum McKay Smith- a new addition to the Vital Bolton team…
In terms of my longevity of supporting Bolton, and football for that matter, I am a relative baby. I started watching Bolton in 2004/5 and started playing at the same time (at the age of 13). Due to being absolutely rubbish I was put in goal, and did okay, excluding my record 171 loss in the local league. Anyways being a ‘keeper really pushed me to idolise the great BWFC goalkeeper at the time – the legend that is Jussi Jääskeläinen
Jussi was one of the key figures in the Allardyce era, a part of the most successful Bolton
team in our Premier League history; he showed great dedication and has achieved ‘icon’ status with us, being here for over 10 years.
Looking back at those years, whether we were at the top of our game, or struggling to survive in the premier league, it didn’t change my perspective, it didn’t change what I wanted to watch. I don’t remember the great goals or crunching tackles; I remember the double penalty saves against Blackburn, the save of the season against Aston Villa, and own goal against Liverpool (D’oh). I’d revel in every catch from a corner, every time he Saved a 1-on-1 and every time he’d produce a jaw dropping save. He was my footballing hero.
The final article of the second installation is from Daniel May, another new addition to the site. He writes on Croatian dynamo, Ivan Klasnic.
Ivan Klasnic was not an obvious choice, in that he got most of his Bolton Wanderers appearances from the bench, and that he was not at the club for a prolonged period of time. He was also one of the laziest strikers I have seen play for the Wanderers over the past 15 or so years I have followed them. This lack of work rate was probably the reason both Megson and Coyle didn`t start him regularly during his spell here, because he was by far the best natural finisher I have witnessed in a white shirt. He instantly became a fans favourite in the short time he spent at Bolton, as he scored vital goals, often from the bench during a period of time the team struggled to stay up in the Premier League. He always managed to maintain an impressive goal per game ratio throughout his career, and Bolton was no different. Despite scoring one week he would often find himself out of the team, which clearly must have been very frustrating for him. I admired his attitude towards this, as you wouldn`t hear him moaning about the situation, as he fully understood his work rate was incomparable to Kevin Davies`. He knew his role was to be an impact sub and take advantage of tiring defenders by firing in any chance that would fall his way.
The story of his kidney transplant was always something that intrigued me, and made me
particularly interested in his remarkable career. To continue playing at the highest level for both club and country (Croatia) after such a serious illness showed the sort of character he was, and you could see he was grateful for every minute he played for us, an attitude that rubbed off on his fellow teammates and fans alike. He showed loyalty towards the club after his initial loan period ended by cancelling his own contract with Nantes in order to return to Bolton, reportedly agreeing a deal with significantly lower wages to secure the deal.
The decision was certainly not straightforward, with popular figures such as Kevin Davies, Jay Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff, and Jussi Jaaskelianen instantly entering the forefront of my thinking. However having given it some consideration, and thinking a little outside the box I have gone with someone that I was generally inspired by, given his difficult circumstances, and outstanding finishing! (Not to mention he spat on John Terry)
So there’s part two.