Heading up to Bolton for the start of another cup adventure.
Our first match in the League Cup, whatever it’s called now, is one of the most eagerly-anticipated games of the season. Sometimes it’s the chance to get to a new ground, always it’s the opportunity to see a few of the young, promising or forgotten squad members strutting their stuff. Ir’s also our best chance of a trophy.
This time round it’s a quick, stress-free trip up the M6 to the University of Bolton Stadium, which will forever be known as the Reebok to those of us who can still remember Burnden Park. Bolton are in division three (we’re having a retro day) and fair play to them for getting back to something approaching normality after being shafted by their owners.
If you want to feel really old, it’s nearly fifteen years since we sold them Gary Cahill, and even though it was a long time ago I still can’t remember a Villa manager doing anything that daft since. Then there was Sasa Curcic…..
Bolton’s days of being in the Premier League, Sam Allardyce and beating us are long past, so we can patronise them, say how god it is to see them doing well and what decent supporters they’ve got. Talking of which, we were given five thousand-odd tickets so just about everyone who wants to go to an away match can get there for a change and we’ll very likely have as many in the ground as they will, because lower division clubs don’t care all that much about watching the big lads’ reserves these days and it’s on t’telly anyway.
Our manager has said he’ll out out a strong team, theirs has probably said something about how strong we’ll be regardless of how many have been dropped from last Saturday. Then again, using Saturday as a guide to our team and its strength isn’t all that accurate.
After getting over the shock of seeing a crowd they’ll probably sing something about being northern and something else about the Premier League. We’ll cheer our goals then get stuck in a traffic jam on the way home. The road to Wembley starts here.