New review of Where’s Sailor Jack? : ‘‘…romantic, poignant, and extremely funny, exactly what I want from a family saga.’ – Stephen Carver, Blot the Skrip and Jar It

Archives: Marc Iles

Bolton Wanderers

I’m here to apologise for the delay in publishing No Precedent, the midquel of Where’s Sailor Jack. There are two principal reasons for this delay, both relating to the year starting in the summer of 2019. What happens in this year was not going to be critical to the plot. But the uncertainty surrounding Brexit is no longer ignorable. The elevation of Boris may mean that we won’t die wondering, but I think I’d better hang on to see if we do all die as a consequence!
But far worse than this is the fate of Bolton Wanderers. As readers will know, Bob is a Blackpool supporter and his friend Richard a Wanderers fan. Some have asked me which of the two teams do I as author support. Delighted as I am that Blackpool, my birthplace, seem to be thriving under new ownership, I am a diehard Wanderer and have been since January 3, 1953 when my Dad first took me to Burnden Park. We beat Blackpool 4-0. The ongoing ownership problems at Bolton are causing worried days, sleepless nights and writer’s block. I hit the Bolton News tab several times a day. I look for the their football writer’s tweets, the excellent Marc Iles, many times a day. Bolton is a massive part of my identity, a Lancashire town in a forced marriage with Manchester. I’ll never forget the day the great Nat Lofthouse signed my copy of Goals Galore, his autobiography, when I was about eleven. “Ee, I’ll sign that,” he said.
My Granddad was Head Gardener at Sharples Hall, Bolton and my Dad was brought up there. He supported Wanderers from the mid twenties till his death in 1998. We went down from the Premier League that season at Chelsea. I was there, knowing Dad was dying of cancer. I went straight back to his house after the game. “We’re down, Dad,” I said, not knowing if he could hear. There was a loud grunt from the depths of his soul. He died a few days later.
We were soon back in the Premier League at Chelsea. One each and a few minutes to go, Henrik Pedersen slammed in a low cross from the left, John Terry couldn’t sort his feet out and he put it in his own net. At least that’s what the papers said. I know that Dad nicked in front of him. and slotted it in.
Dad had the great days of the Charles Foweraker’s twenties, we both had the fine years of Bill Ridding’s fifties, and I shared Big Sam’s noughties with my sons. To lose Wanderers now would be like being buried alive. Not only in the interests of my novel, but to make sense of my identity, I pray to the Almighty, and plead with the Administrators to save my club.