August 13, 2022

Netflix please use this as the basis for a film

No ticket, climbing a fence, asking Ricardo Gardner for help, hugging Nigel Reo-Coker. This is the story of Bolton fan David, whose mission to see Bolton’s last ever Premier League game ended up with him masquerading as a club official, and joining the team on the pitch.

David told the story in a long Twitter thread. Here are the highlights.

He had no ticket for the game – which would eventually end in a draw and end Bolton’s 11-year spell in the top flight – but he thought he would drive down to Stoke anyway on the off chance he encountered a spare.

With no luck before the game, he listened to the first half on the radio in his car. However, this was when he would make the first of several genius decisions to get himself into the stadium.

“I spotted some Stoke fans outside having a smoke, it appeared they intentionally allowed this to prevent people smoking on the concourse. I knew this was my chance so I headed out of sight to yellow dot,” he explained, with a detailed diagram.

“Red dot gave me a good vantage point. Scaling the fence like peak Colin Jackson I used the parked cars to edge closer to the smokers entrance,” he continued.

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“Using skills they probably teach in SAS training I managed to get in the ground.”

Step one complete, but this is when it got tricky. With not a spare seat anywhere in sight, David had to blend in fast before it became apparent he didn’t have a ticket.

“Looking lost I spot a seat down behind the BWFC dugout, I confidently approach the empty seat at the end of the row and see Ricardo Gardner sat in the next seat along.

“Hi Ricky, I am a big Bolton fan, I just sneaked in, can I sit here?”… “yeah, no problem”. Made it!” the thread continued.

“But then the Stoke fans spotted what happened and start hurling dogs abuse at me, one of them grassed me up to a nearby steward…”

This is when David’s quick thinking, and Ricardo Gadner’s kindness, came into play. Asked whether he had a ticket for the game, David replied to the steward: “I am a club official, I only arrived at half time, Ricky can confirm.”

Gardner came through.

“Yeah, he’s with us”, Ricky responded. And that was that, I was there to stay. Of course, what happened on the pitch happened, then the FT whistle went. The Stoke fans were loving it, I was sh!tting myself,” David wrote.

Again, his quick thinking protected him from a battering at the hands of Stoke fans, as he blended in to the depleted group of Bolton players and staff.

“Dressed in chinos (they were a thing back then) and a check shirt (the one I was wearing was never a thing), I was on the pitch, consoling all the players, nobody batting an eyelid and surprisingly the players accepting my commiserations, hugs and handshakes…”

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And to prove all of this actually happened, David cited a photograph on Getty Images of Nigel Reo-Coker hugging a man dressed in that exact gear, and pointed to a video filmed from the away end.

What a hero.

“As I walked down the tunnel I contemplated going for the dressing room but decided to keep walking, eventually found the players entrance, walked out the front doors of the Britannia and back to my car. End,” the thread concludes.
David, we salute you.

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