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March 2018
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Life in Bolton, and other elements of chaos theory

Billy the Dog was not quite in the best of moods or the finest of fettle when I met him on the allotment to discuss the game against the almighty Notlob in the Land of the Fabled Beast.

I started by asking the question everyone asks, “Is there life in Bolton?”

“It doesn’t really matter,” he replied with an airy wave for his hoe. “Bolton don’t play in Bolton, they play in Horwich.”

“But, pray, what do we know of Horwich?” I asked.  Watching him jig up and down I suspected his new diet of orange juice and guacamole may be giving his conversation a new edge.

“It is just off the Chorley shore of the Liverpool and Manchester Sewage Farm, as all true fishermen know,” Billy announced, straightening up.  “Chorley has a population of 19,000 and a football ground that holds 28,000.

“The name Horwich derives from the phrase har wice, meaning the place where the grey wych elm grows – and in honour of this Notlob Wanderers have placed just such a tree on their centre circle.

“The local team began playing there is 1293 as Horewic Knot-Lob, but they were chased out by the local hunt (are you sure the first letter of that word is right? – Editor) from Manchester.

“In the 17th century they felled the forest in order to build the new stadium and burned the local non-conformists en route – a tradition that continues to this day.

“The Civil War was a dark time for Notlob as the ground was sequestered because of  the delinquency of the team manager Sir Sam-Slug Aller SlugDice, who was then voted fattest man in Horwich for 170 years running while parts of him were eaten each Christmas.

“In the late 18th century the area was abandoned, and it is now given over to warehousing and aardvarks.”  (I think that should be carparks – editor).

“Away in the distance we may see (when the fog and trans-dimensional interface lift) the West Pennine Moors wherein lives the Black Beast of Bolton who roams the streets stealing chocolate, wasting police time and tripping up programme sellers.”

“So,” I said while plotting an escape route between the anchovy bushes, “the question arises, does a six mile move from Bolton to the Wasteland count as football franchising in the mode and style of MK Dons of whom we spoke recently?

“And if not, what about 12 miles (the distance between Plumstead and Highbury)?  Or 58 miles (Wimbledon to Milton Keynes)?”

Such academic debate cuts no ice with Billy the Dog McGraw of course, and he turned to the tactics.

“Notlob will have seen what Everton did, pressurising, pushing, gnarling, ankle tapping, and time wasting.  But the new manager won’t have had that much time to get sorted at the club, so instead of introducing new styles, they might just stay with the old Bolton tradition of pressurising, pushing, gnarling, ankle tapping, and time wasting.”

“Predictions?” I asked timidly.

“I predict they will score, and it will be  left-footed goal.” Billy looked me straight in the eye, and I backed off treading rather unfortunately on one of the levitating lettuces for which Enfield is justly famous.

He ignored my faux pas, and went on to the team…

  • Almunia,
  • Sagna, Gallas, Vermaelen, Traore,
  • Cesc, Diaby, Nasri
  • Arshavin, Eduardo, Rosicky (Vela?)
  • Bench: Fabianski, Silvestre, Merida, Vela, Ramsey?,

“Why did you put a question mark after Ramsey?” I asked, dusting down the lettuce and letting it fly south for the winter.

“How did you know I put a question mark after Ramsey?” he asked menacingly.   “Is someone writing this down?”

We looked at each other in silence before he relented.

“But you are right.  Ramsey is a question mark.  I thought he was Welsh, but he’s definitely a question mark.  Anyway I think he might be injured.”

“And the goals?” I asked with temerity.

“One at each end,” and with that he was off.

So, without Billy’s insight, here’s our goalscorers including only those likely to be playing in the starting line up.  The number after each name might mean anything but rumour has it it signifies the number of league goals scored.

  • Fabregas 9
  • Arshavin 6
  • Diaby 5
  • Vermaelen 4
  • Eduardo 3
  • Gallas 3
  • Rosicky 2
  • Nasri 1

So if we win 4-1 then logically the scorers will be Fabregas (2), Arshavin and Diaby.  The Diaby goal will be the most interesting as it bounces off the tree in the centre circle.

What I also think is that Vela will get more of a game – and might just start.  What I saw in the last couple of matches was a man suddenly making his breakthrough, gaining his confidence, knowing that he has a winning smile, eating more chips, and playing to a higher level.   If so, I’d give him a goal in which he passes back to Rosicky who knocks it forward to Eduardo who does a double backward somersault side kick which Vela collects and taps over the line.  Nine – one to the Arsenal.



Ricketss Cahill Knight Robinson

Lee Cohen Muamba Taylor

Klasnic Davies

Top man is Davies – their raconteur, raccoon tamer, wit and chauffeur.  He’ll be sent off.   Also notable is jockey, architect, hairdresser and jack of all trades Muamba who once played for us I think.

It is of course possible that the new manager will want to play expansive attacking football in the style of our Great Lord, but if so how will that go down with the natives?  They could become restless, and if they do, I should take some care.   Witchcraft and devil worship are still commonplace in the outer reaches of the Empire and curses regularly fly down from the Woodford Group stand, causing the weeds that grow rapaciously from within the concrete to rise up and strangle unsuspecting visitors.

The key point to note is (as the layout above shows) that Arsenal will play a balanced team across the whole pitch, while the Notlob side are totally over to the left, leaving us to roam free on the right.

As Frank Zappa once said, “watch out where the huskies go and don’t you eat that yellow snow.”

There is more insanity in “Making the Arsenal”.  100 years ago it was not possible to go crazy on a blog, as the internet was carefully licensed by the state and anyone who was not declared a fit and proper dandelion was exported to Norfolk.  Hence the saying.   But today you can read an extract of Making the Arsenal, and indeed read reviews, and even (if you have not had enough after 1200 words of mindless gibbering here) you can buy it.  Go on, you know you want to.  (Incidentally I have got this link wrong on a couple of posts and taken you to a page where there is no link to the extracts from the book – sorry – this is the right link).

Love and kisses

Sir Tony Attwood, prince of the enlightenment, overseer of the kingdoms, Companion to the Deceived Duchess of Plumstead, author, wit (are you sure there is not a t missing at the start of that last word – Editor), botanist, window cleaner, head of the East Midlands Typhoon Prediction Agency, glazier, fortune teller, explorer, nuclear physicist, disc jockey and horticulturalist.

If you have been, well, don’t.

But do vote for Untold Arsenal at They have added a “most demented writer award”

(Footnote from Jane: “Window-cleaner?  I’ve never seen you clean the windows!”)

32 comments to Life in Bolton, and other elements of chaos theory

  • Steve d.

    Bravo young man – another very amusing read.

    FYI – I heard Notlob’s raconteur, raccoon tamer, wit and chauffeur, was actually injured, which I ironically thought might reduce the number of casualties from the ranks of the Great Lord’s army.

    Up The Arse!!!!!

  • Blimey, guv, you’re well informed and no mistake.

    If the raccoon tamer is out that puts a totally different complexion on the whole game. It is well known that the Horwich area is over run with raccoons. I think that puts Diaby firmly in centre midfield on raccoon duty, with Cesc and Nasri ahead of him, dealing with the window cleaning.

    That’s scuppered everything.

    Phil – help us out here.

  • soulrebel

    Another lovely post big tone!
    I hope you are right about Vela, I think he has been struggling to find space recently and I wonder if he’s been feeling his size a bit. An undoubted talent though and if he does start to fire then we may be in for a treat!

    I believe we’ll see a great deal of gnarling and biting from Notlob. Shame on them.

  • Steve d.

    Sir Tony – I’m sorry old chap but it seems my information was about as acurate as Alan Hansen’s predictions for the championship (He still thinks Liverpool IOU are favourites)
    Notlob’s raccoon tamer etc has been old with the lurgy, but is expected back for this ‘top-of-the-table’ challenge.
    I’m now off to beat my informant with a stick of rhubarb!!!

  • My god Steve d. If you can’t trust your sources, who can you trust.

    Jane has just suggested I clean the windows.

  • Phil Gregory

    I had a glance around and saw nothing on or the BBCs preview about Davies’ injury, so can only presume he’ll be involved. They are a better side than form has suggested, but with a dismal home record and the return of Cesc we should win. That said, if we concede first and they can defend in numbers, it could be tight.

    Though much of Coyle’s play at Burnley was positively set up, wingers and two stikers in a lot of games, so if he does similar, we shouldn’t struggle. Rosicky in CM for me, with Cesc and Diaby (DM). Diaby won’t be the greatest DM, but as long as he works hard and throws himself about he should do fine.

  • soulrebel

    Just wonder if Diaby can actually stay back. The Arsenal website hints it could be cescs role. I actually think cesc would have the required discipline whereas diaby wouldn’t. What he lacks in size and power he more than makes up for in positioning and anticipation. He could also still roam forward when safe to find the killer passes, a bit like Song does sometimes.

    Agree with Phil about Rosicky in CM though. The guy is superb. Would love an injury free run for him.

  • Robbie Savage is imparting his wisdom to Radio 5 listeners.

    It’s official – teams that can’t cope with Arsenal are advised that the only way to play Arsenal is to kick the living shit out of them.
    It’s just sad that other teams choose not to play football instead.

  • Kevin

    Congratulations on one of your best pre-match reports yet. You should offer your services to the Lancashire Tourist Board.

    Darius – please never mention the Savage creature again as it spoils my Sunday lunch. He’s not the lowest form of life, at least not on his own, but he shares the title with the abovementioned Sir Sam-Slug Aller SlugDice, Mark Ooze, Tony Pugilist and the just a few others!

  • LRV

    Our boys will put in a very good shift today. I have no doubt about that. As always, not being greedy, I will be very happy with a minimum of 2 goals to the good for us. A clean sheet, if possible, will be appreciated.

  • LRV

    Sorry, I entered my email wrong above.

    Our boys will put in a very good shift today. I have no doubt about that. As always, not being greedy, I will be very happy with a minimum of 2 goals to the good for us. A clean sheet, if possible, will be appreciated.

  • walter

    What an important victory against a team that like we expected kicked us from the first minute till the last and a ref that let it pass and didn’t do much about it.
    That part of the game was rightly predicted by Billy.

    One very very clear penalty on Cesc not given when they made actually two fouls on him. Sometimes it was more with luck than with wisdom and glad that Fran scored the second goal. Well taken with his weaker foot.

  • tim

    LRV, it looks like you got what you wished for!

    Wahoo! A hard-fought effort against the Notlob monster.

    By the way, where was Nasri?

  • IndianGooner

    Good performance from the lads..

    Eastmond did well considering this was his first start. Did anyone saw Gallas talking to Eastmond just before the start?? Was really happy when I saw that. Thanks Gallas!!! Now, if you can sign a new contract extension!!!

    Merida too did well when he scored the second goal. His body language said he wasnts to stay!!!

    Diaby did well in the second in the defensive role.. He controlled his attacking instincts well and won lots of long balls in the second half..

  • Kicking, gnarling, fighting, biting, bullying, pushing, shoving, shirt grabbing, elbowing, hair-pulling and lying on top of.

    And that was just the fourth official. Bolton were far worse.

    I note with satisfaction that every prediction on this site came true once again. What odd you could have got for a tree being planted on the centre spot.

    Apparently Sky blocked that image out in order not to disturb viewers, but I can assure you it was there.

    Sweet dreams.

  • leany

    1:30 am. I go to bed. Good night to all!!

  • LRV

    Great tim, isn’t it? I wish it was my birthday as this would have been a nice present. A very unforgivably hard game, but the boys overcame; with a clean sheet to boot. Craig did a neat job in the DM position, given that it was his first prem start in the position. Very well done boys.

  • walter

    Nasri and Ramsey both out for 21 days. Ramsey with thigh injury and Nasri a hamstring.
    Is it allright to swear? …..*$&锧……. done.

    Good news that Denilson and….. Walcott could be back for wednesday.
    Walcott back against Bolton…. ? Oh my God…. They will try to kick off the field and his season could be over…

  • the first letter of “hunt”, hmmm.. let me “see” tony great read.. billy is back.. hoping to hear from him before wednesday!

  • Tone

    The real miracle so far is that neither Gallas nor Vermaelan have missed a game yet through injury. I shudder to think what would happen if that pairing didn’t start.

  • walter

    I really think that TV stations should have given a warning before the game and telling little children that this is a game for 16+ only.
    And when at the end of the game you see that we had the most bookings…. I really wonder what the ref was doing out there ?
    Have you seen how at the end that big lump King grabbed the shirt of Vela when Vela had touched him ? That was pure agression and the ref was right to give Bolton the foul but should have given that King a yellow card. No, he just went to him to share a nice joke and a laugh?
    I feal I could write a whole article about the game just to point out the (bad) refs game, but just leave it for now.

  • The Law

    The real shock of today’s game was that Notlob committed GBH, Aggravated Assault, and not only did they finish the game with 11 players, Arsenal actually got more bookings! Taylor knelt on Cesc’s neck, tried to run his boot across our Skipper’s face, and then grabbed his hair, and he didn’t even get a warning, and the Assistant Ref was right there the whole time. What was he, blind? Then there was that other Notlob bushwhacker who tried to end Cesc’s career and didn’t get sent off.

    Can’t wait to stuff these bastards on Wednesday night.

  • tim

    Notlob are a bunch of cheating dirtbags. Maybe Sol should get a run out on Wednesday to show them whose boss? (And to maybe give Gallas a bit of rest for the gauntlet of fixtures coming up).

    Hope Merida takes his chances and shines. He just needs to realize that his time will come.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Well done Billy -there were goals scored in both ends.Matt Taylor should have scored that ” left-footed goal ” but the spirits of past misdeeds made it go up and over ,thus bringing balance to the force.I wouldn’t mind that 9-1 score on wednesday.
    And Tony “…the weeds that grow rapaciously..” were fed in part by hate ,bile and discontentment ,but mainly by what came out of Big Sam’s mouth -including the ‘stuff’ he used to chew.Yeech 1

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Sorry it should have been -Yeech!

  • diceman1984

    That hair pulling on our captain was a disgrace, it proved that no matter who’s the man in charge bolton will always be bolton the thugs…..

  • I watched the game on Sky and the hair pulling was actually removed from the reply. Now what on earth made them do that?

    The way the injuries are going its a good job our under 11 team is looking quite promising this year.

  • tim

    “Sir Sam-Slug Aller SlugDice, who was then voted fattest man in Horwich for 170 years running while parts of him were eaten each Christmas.” Awesome.

    Tony, gotta say that this was my favorite posting to date. It’s clear you channeled all your creative powers for this one (or were drunk or high. whatever it takes to get the creative juices flowing…).

  • Just doing a little bit of research for an article today and came across this from the News of the World

    By MARTIN HARDY, 14/11/2009
    LIVERPOOL are ready to poach Eduardo from rivals Arsenal in a £10million deal.

    Laugh? I nearly…

  • walter

    I’ve read somewhere that some Jaimie Redknapp said that Eduardo was just a passenger in the team. Well if we would have a passenger every game that gives 2 assists I will take it.

    Also a little reflection on our draw last week against Everton who won this weekend 2-0 against City ‘the in form team since Mancini came in’. Really think Everton isn’t that bad as the table indicates and that the result wasn’t as bad as we first thought.

  • Mark

    Some more history

    Its called Bolton because the idea of playing football was a bolt-on.

    The team were originally formed in 1641 as perambulatory lynch mob,
    and later formally recognized as a tar gang by William of Orange.

    (it is reputed that one of William’s illegitimate scions by Lady Whoreton of Spittlegate is an ancestor of the estimable Squire of Hull)

    The football was hastily introduced in the 30’s as an antidote to social unrest.

  • Ian Trevett

    Yesterday really was great result. Bolton’s aggressive approach, the lack of protection from the ref and the inexperience (Traore, Eastmond, Merida) combined meant this was a game that could easily have been lost.
    Fabregas played superbly but most impressivley, he kept his cool when it was clear that Bolton were out to damage him. Most contentious incident of whole game was ignored by SKY at half time. Penalty, then knee pressed down on Cesc’s neck and a kick in the head! And not even mentioned on the half time review. SKY Tossers!
    We do have a problem now with midfield injuries – Ramsey, Nasri, Denislon (hope back on Wednesday) and Song away. I can see a very young midfield at Stoke, which will be a baptism of fire for them.
    As for Wednesday, with a home crowd, hopefully the ref might actually penalise a few of their fouls, which should make things a whole lot easier.