BOLTON WANDERERS PREVIEW.
Recovering from a really tough start, Albion were able to put together ‘back to back’ wins against midland rivals Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa. Unfortunately, Kenny Dalgleish brought his ‘football millionaires down from the North West to spoil the party, taking all three points from the Hawthorns last week. With a really tough trip this week-end, to the Emirates to take on a rapidly improving Arsenal side, ‘the Baggies’ have to look forward beyond that match and the approaching international break, to their next home fixture against early season strugglers Bolton Wanderers on the 19th November. A really important game for both sides, and a game that has been ‘billed’ as a ‘six-pointer’ already in some quarters. A point I put to former Albion and Bolton ‘Legend’ Richard Sneekes, now enjoying a new lease of ‘football life’ at Hereford United.
Three legends. In his last season, Richard with pals Bob Taylor and Darryl Burgess
“More for Bolton that for West Brom to be fair. We played Bolton pre-season with Hereford, and to be fair Bolton looked a decent outfit. They have bought in a few new players for this season and maybe that is what is costing them now, I don’t really know. Owen Coyle is a top, top bloke, and I wish him nothing but the best. For some reason, they have gone backwards since the beginning of the season and a great first day win at QPR. It’s a surprise to me why they can’t get a few good results. It seems to have deteriorated fairly quickly.”
You have played in quite a few Bolton-Albion encounters, what are you memories of those games Richard.
“The only memories that I really have are of course the two Play off games in 2001, we had against them when we had a two goal lead and let it slip at home, and then got battered 3-0 in the second leg at the Reebok.”
Richard prepares for another game in 1999
Richard continued. “I have many great memories of my time at Bolton, especially in my first year there, when we got through to the Coca-Cola cup final against Liverpool. Then we got through to the play-off finals at Wembley, and of course I have many great memories of my six years at West Brom. It’s going to be a great game, and I really hope that Bolton can pick up a few more points before the game. I wish both teams all the best, but I’m going to sit on the fence, because I don’t want either team to lose. So I’m going to hope for a draw. Hopefully that will keep everybody happy.”
Of course, that play-off semi-final turned out to be your last appearance for Albion didn’t it.
“Yes it was, and what a terrible last appearance it was. I got dragged off after 65 minutes. The first game was great. We were two nil up and cruising. Then they scored in the 63rd minute, and scored again in the last few minutes to even up the tie. I knew that the game at the Reebok was possibly going to be my last game, and it was perhaps really poignant that my last game was at Bolton where I started my career in England. A shame to play my last game for West Brom there to be fair, but I saw it coming, so it wasn’t a real shock. It was at least great to have it there. Not the result and the way it went, but it was as I said quite poignant that it marked the end of my West Brom career at Bolton where I started.”
“The game between Bolton and Albion that stands out in my mind Richard, was the fantastic 4-4 draw at the Hawthorns, where of course you scored with a penalty against your old club.”
Last appearance-May 2001
“Yes, I scored a penalty. I don’t think I had scored all season. We got the penalty and Bob (Taylor) said to me. ‘You take it’. I remember I scored a penalty in the game at Barnsley, and of course the first goal in the relegation decider against Charlton. That 4-4 draw was a great game. But then I think most of the games with Bolton are good games, because both sides try to play free flowing football. So it bodes well for the game coming up, and as I said before if both teams can get a point then I’m happy. I’ve still got a lot of friends up at Bolton, so it’s one of those, where I have got to go straight down the middle and say, a draw is the best result for me. (ha ha).”
“Ok Rich, I can live with that, but it is just so symptomatic of the way the Premier league is at the moment, that so early on in the season, this match is considered by many as very much a six pointer. Do you agree?”
“Well it is, but it just shows the way the gaps are appearing, very quickly between top and bottom of the league. But also, if you win a couple of games, then you can be in the top half of the league all of a sudden.”
Richard stressed. “People are getting too down hearted too quickly in my opinion. A couple of defeats then the fans want the manager out, then a couple of wins, then he is the best manager again. You don’t become a bad manager overnight. Owen Coyle has done well where-ever he has been and Roy Hodgson has done well wherever he has been. So it just proves that a couple of bad results does not make you a bad manager. It’s a culmination of team selection, players not playing to their full potential. Of course you can have some of your key players injured. It all plays a part in the way the results can go. As I said a couple of wins and you can be in the top half of the table.”
“Of course, a new challenge for you with your appointment at Hereford Rich. Are you enjoying it?”
Yes, I’m loving it to be fair. I have been there now for about four months, and after a really bad start, we have managed ten points out of four games, and we have been steadily climbing out of the relegation zone. Certainly everything is looking a lot ‘rosier’ than it did a month or two back. But, I have to say, people get carried away sometimes. We are coping in League Two with one of the smallest budgets, and sometimes people set unrealistic targets. For me, if we stay out of the relegation zone, and finish off somewhere above 22nd then we have done really well. With the players that we have, and if we can keep everybody fit, I think we will be able to do so. There are no outstanding teams in that league. Everybody can beat everybody. As long as you are fit and organised, and you know what you are doing, then you have got a chance. We have given ourselves that chance now, and we just need to kick on and start winning a few more games, then we can hopefully relax before the end of the season.”
Richard continued. “We changed our system a little bit, and we play to our strengths at the moment. We have gone a little bit more direct, and try to mix it up a bit more. That has worked and we have got a couple of really good results under our belts and confidence is back. We have got some good players, so long may it continue.”
“But as you said you are enjoying it, and its great to be back in football.”
“It’s fantastic, I didn’t realise how much I had missed it. You walk back into the dressing room, and it’s as if you have never been away.”
“The downside is we won’t see you at the Hawthorns in the near future will we?”
“No, not really, I might be able to get along for a night game, but that’s the way football works. You get back into the game, and you might not have time to get back to see your old team play. But, ‘Hey’ you never know. I’ll certainly look forward to it, when I can. But, I’m not complaining, it’s just great to be back in football. I love the ‘hustle and bustle’ getting teams ready. Warming them up, sorting the set pieces out, coaching the young players, even taking the team sheets in. It’s just great to be back!
Richard, I’m sure everybody at the Hawthorns wishes you the best of luck.
Richard Sneekes/Laurie Rampling-November 2011.
Previous page: Garry Thompson