Bolton Wanderers fans column: Think about mental health

By Liam Hatton

DELE Alli sat down for an interview with Gary Neville this week and to say it was full of raw emotion would be an understatement.

Alli spoke about a number of topics including his childhood and dreadful circumstances he has faced, alongside issues throughout his playing career and his use of sleeping pills.

The conversation reverted back to the topic that is constantly becoming a bigger theme, not just within society but also throughout football – Mental health. Alli has struggled for years and has now finally opened up, which allows people to begin to understand why his career has not panned out like many thought it would.

How does this relate to Bolton Wanderers you may ask? Well, I think it is important to talk about the pressures footballers face and the expectations placed on them by fans.

This is not exclusively a ‘Bolton issue’ as much as it is a ‘football issue’. Certain supporters look at footballers, point to the wage they receive and state they should not suffer from personal issues or feel emotions like other human beings do.

However, this could not be further from the truth. A quick tale that I have mentioned before, but via my Trotters Blog account on Twitter a while back, I tweeted about stepping away for a bit due to my own mental health, so I was surprised when former Bolton player Harry Brockbank sent me a message asking if I was okay and that he was always there to support me with anything – even if it was just for a chat, which meant so much.

I am sure he would not mind me saying this as he has mentioned it previously, but Harry is someone who is a huge advocate of mental health and has documented his own struggles as well.

Read more: Harry Brockbank on mental health role.

We see it with this current Bolton squad and past teams, but there is a lot of pressure on them this year. Fans are expecting promotion or are already writing the season off as a failure. The playoff finish and cup win last year will be a distant memory if things do not pan out this season.

Not to single anyone out as this is not my intention, but there was an instance last week when Victory Adeboyejo was tagged directly in a tweet criticising his abilities. Now, I think there is a fine line between genuinely criticising and talking about a player’s ability, to that of sending abusive messages for a few likes on social media.

I will not sit here and say I have not commented on players in the past, but I have made a concerted effort over the last few years to look at it through their eyes and to avoid making comments in the heat of the moment, because at the end of the day they are human beings just like us.

Fans get emotional I understand that, but you still see comments digging out players all of the time on social media. Again, it is not just a problem exclusive to our club but encompasses football as a whole.

Football can be a toxic culture, but if we learn anything from Dele’s interview, maybe we can just think about what we say before we press send on a tweet or a post.

The Bolton News: Alessia Russo (left) and Ella Toone with the trophy after the Euro 2022 final. Alessia Russo (left) and Ella Toone with the trophy after the Euro 2022 final. (Image: PA)

Getting better all the time

By Tony Thompson

THE Women’s World Cup kicks off soon and should get us all thinking about the recent success the sport has had in this country.

In the last decade we have seen England host and win the Euros, the launch of the Super League, English domestic clubs challenge for silverware around the continent and a real boom at grassroots level where there are now more opportunities than ever before for girls and young women to play.

This week a major review from ex-England star Karen Carney has recommended that the top two tiers of the domestic women’s game should become professional, which is another massive step forward and illustrates just how far we have come.

I can talk first-hand about how different things feel now, as I have coached girls’ junior football and seen my two daughters go through the system to play at a very high standard. I’ll save them the embarrassment of putting their name in this article, but they have both done really well and still love playing now.

One day I would love to see Bolton Wanderers enter a team into the professional league and for supporters like myself to be able to watch both teams play at the weekend.

I understand that financially it probably hasn’t been possible in the past few years but now that things are looking better I think it would be something the owners could take pride in building from scratch and give more of the girls around the town a real target to aim at.

I know there is a lot of good work going on at the minute at junior level and it would be great to see that expanded in the future.

Meanwhile I’d like to say the very best of luck to Serina Weigman and her squad as they go to work in Australia and New Zealand. Bring home the gold!


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