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Bolton are the visitors on Saturday 8th October.  With home gates averaging over 18,000, we can expect another big away following.

How are they doing?

The Trotters are looking strong this season, lying in 6th place in the table, 5 points off top place, but with a game in hand over most of their rivals.  They have 6 wins, 2 draws and 2 defeats from their 10 outings.

Last season was their 1st season back in League 1 after promotion from League 2 in 2021.  They finished last season in a very solid 9th place, albeit not really troubling the play-off places.

The 2 clubs have had just two previous league meetings – these were in the 2020/21 season in League 2.  Rovers won 1-0 away but lost by the same score at home.

Who to watch

Frontmen Dion Charles (number 10) and Elias Kachunga (number 24) may be the 2 starting strikers.  But Bolton have a number of attacking options – last year’s Player of the Season and top scorer, Dapo Afolayan (number 17) is one, Amadou Bakayoko (number 11) is another.

Dion Charles gives exciting Bolton Wanderers future glimpse & reflects on Accrington Stanley exit - Manchester Evening News

Northern Ireland international Dion Charles was signed from Accrington in the summer

Elias Kachunga: Bolton Wanderers forward suffers racist abuse on Instagram | Football News | Sky Sports

Elias Kachunga is a frequent starting striker for Bolton this season

The  Manager and the Owners

Bolton Wanderers manager Ian Evatt reflects on learning from goalkeeper 'man up' comments - Manchester Evening News

Ian Evatt has been Bolton’s manager for 2 years.  He guided the club’s promotion to League 1.  He had previously spent 2 years at Barrow where he achieved promotion to League 2 for this club (after a 48 year wait!).

Ian Evatt is a manager who prefers to play attacking possession-based football.  He has often decided against naming a substitute goalkeeper, preferring to have more attacking options (outfield players have done goalkeeping training, just in case!).  He will sometimes bring on attacking players when winning matches rather than defensive players, preferring to score more goals than defend a lead.  His Barrow team were nicknamed ‘Barrowcelona’ due to the attacking football they played.

He does have something of a temper – a red card, a ban and a fine followed his use of insulting, abusive and improper language when Wanderers played Port Vale in August.

Expect him to set his side up with his favourite 3-4-1-2 formation with Charles (number 10) and Kachunga (number 24) leading the line, though he does sometimes play 4-2-3-1.

Chairman and CEO Meet Forest Green Counterparts - News - Bolton Wanderers

Wanderers are now owned by a consortium called Football Ventures, who bought the club out of administration.  Bolton are a little unusual in having a female Chair, Sharon Brittan (pictured left with Dale), and Henry with former CEO, Emma Beaugeard.

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Pink Floyd drummer, Nick Mason, was one of the backers of the consortium that now own Bolton.

The Club

The football league was started by Aston Villa Football Club in 1888 along with 11 other founder members. These founder members were all from the North and Midlands.  Bolton Wanderers were one of these founder member clubs.

Bolton have played league football ever since 1888 with more years spent in the top tier than outside it. They had a brief visit to the 4th tier in 1988 but won promotion straight back to the 3rd tier in 1989. In 2012 they had been a Premiership side for a decade before they started a steep decline. In 2020 they were relegated back to the 4th tier for only the second season in their history.  They won promotion back to League 1 at the first attempt.

One look at the University of Bolton stadium, tells you that Bolton are a club that are still punching below its weight. The stadium has been Bolton’s home since they moved from Burnden Park in 1997. It has a capacity of almost 29,000 and is the 4th largest in League 1 (behind Sheffield Wednesday, Derby & Ipswich).

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Bolton’s impressive home stadium

Past troubles!

Rovers fans will remember FGR being in conflict with Bolton 3 years ago over the Christian Doidge transfer fiasco.  Doidge was loaned to Bolton ahead of a transfer, but the money never materialised and Doidge had to come back to Nailsworth a few months later in early 2019.  Dale Vince said of the then Chairman, Ken Anderson, that he is “a rogue chairman, a slippery character and untrustworthy” and that Anderson’s attitude to running up debt was “shocking” and “a sign of somebody who has been round the block on this kind of thing”.  T-shirts were released by Rovers with proceeds going to Bolton’s Supporters Trust while Wanderer’s fans travelling to see FGR play at home against Bury were rewarded with free beer!

In May 2019, Bolton went into administration and came close to being liquidated before being sold in August 2019. In the pandemic-affected 2019/20 season Bolton were bottom of League 1 when the season was halted and they therefore dropped into League 2.

Thankfully for this famous old club the stewardship of Anderson is over. No longer are players going on strike frequently after being unpaid for 20 weeks, the water in the stadium is now drinkable and the showers are now working. An owner, described by some as “tyrannical”, has gone, and few in Bolton were sorry.

Agreement between Bolton’s new owners and FGR over Doidge’s aborted transfer was finally reached in December 2019.  Doidge is now at Kilmarnock, after a spell with Hearts.

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Bolton’s former Chairman Ken Anderson re-opened the debate about the EFL’s ‘fit and proper owners test’.

Deal struck to end long-running dispute following Christian Doidge's collapsed move from Forest Green to Bolton Wanderers | Stroud News and Journal

Christian Doidge is still FGR’s top goalscorer with 61 goals.

Where is Bolton?

Bolton is a large town in Greater Manchester, a few miles north-west of its larger neighbour.  The town was founded on textiles and became a 19th century boom-town.  At its peak in 1929 it boasted 216 cotton mills. Nowadays, this has all gone. Several regeneration projects are planned for the town over the next 10 years.

Born and bred in Bolton are a number of well-known personalities including steeplejack Fred Dibnah, boxer Amir Khan, and comedian Peter Kay.

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Boltonian Peter Kay is one of the town’s famous sons

Bolton miscellaneous

Bolton are known as The Trotters, The Wanderers or The Whites.  A trotter is, apparently, a local word meaning a practical joker!

Bolton’s mascot is Lofty the Lion!

Which football mascot was the victim of a kit clash? | Soccer | The Guardian