There they were, 18 life forms from another planet, each standing at about 9 feet tall. One of them began to speak in perfect English.
“We have come to face the greatest team in the world at your international sport of football. IF we win, we get to plunder your planet for all the resources it has available. If you win we will leave in peace and never return!”
Jordan Rhodes stepped forward, “well can we at least play you at Ewood then?”, He got vaporised.
The team they had come to play was the mighty whites of Bolton Wanderers. For years on their planet they have watched Greats like Eddie Hopkins, Nat Lofthouse, Sam Allardyce, Frank Worthington, Jay Jay Okocha, Youri, Stelios, Campo and more in complete awe. They told the 28,000 strong crowd how the equivalent of their town hall was a like for like replica of the Macron. Weird eh!
Bolton Wanderers had 2 weeks to assemble a team of the aliens choosing and get them ready for a game that the fate of planet earth depended on.
They had 18 names wrote down on a sheet, and the rules would be as standard as a normal league game. The players they wanted to face were;
Jussi, Brannigan, Hunt, Green, Allardyce, Gudni, Cahill, Philips, Gardner, Lee, Thompson, Frandsen, Campo, Hierro, Jay Jay, Youri, Kevin Davies and Zach Clough.
Neil Lennon stepped forward, “the majority of these are retired, and there is only young Zach and maybe a couple of others still playing!”
“This is the team we want to play against and this is the team we will play against! Two weeks from today, at 3pm, the fate of your planet rests in these men’s feet!”, And with that they were off.
After everyone had stopped gawping into space in complete and utter amazement at what had just happened, Neil went straight to his office on got on the blower to round up the team the Aliens has requested.
The very next day the hoping to be heroes arrived at the macron still completely in disbelief at the task ahead of them. Training was fierce and relentless. It had to be. Campo was spraying passes left, right and centre. Jay Jay was hitting shots in the top corner from 40 yards out. Allardyce was kicking Liam Trotter 30 feet in the air every time he got the ball! (The regular Bolton squad was used as a team to train and play against, they lost every practice match!)
The big day had come. All the seats had been taken out of the Macron so it was standing room only. 100,000 people filled the macron and billions watched at home on Sky Sports 1. (The match ball sponsor was franking sense, just so you know!).
Bolton dressed in traditional white shirts with blue shorts and socks, while the aliens where dressed in green, the same colour as their skin!
Bolton Lined up with Jussi in goal, Nicky Hunt at RB, Gudni and Allardyce at CB, Gardner at LB, Lee on the right of Midfield, Tommo on the Left, Campo and Jay Jay in the Centre, with young Zach Clough and Super Kevin Davies playing up top.
The Aliens Lined up as Alien 1 in Goal, Alien 2 at right back, Alien 3 and 4 at Centre Back, Alien 5 at, well you get the picture, they was also lining up in a 4-4-2.
Now bear in mind, the Aliens were a good 2 to 3 feet taller than all of our players, yet from kick off the ball was played back to Campo who played an inch perfect long ball up front and Davies out jumped Alien 3 to flick on for Young Zach Clough. Clough weaved in and out of the aliens almost twice his size and managed to find Jay Jay, who, with the outside of his boot curled an effort right towards the top corner.
Against any other team on any other day that would have seen the mighty whites in the lead. Instead, their keeper with no effort what so ever, just plucked it out of the air.
The rest of the first half the aliens dominated. Shoving players to the ground, sliding in three footed (I forgot to mention they had three legs didn’t I!) and peppering Bolton’s goal with shot after shot after shot. The half time whistle came and Bolton was behind by three goals to nil.
Neil got them in the dressing room and began to give his half time team talk.
“They are bigger than us, they are winning, but they learnt the game from watching greats like all of you, it’s time to show them and the world just how great this football club really is. Go out there now and show them why thousands upon thousands of people used to walk down the manny to see the Burnden Aces!”
All fired up and ready to go the team came out for the second half.
Clough was replaced by Youri and Cahill came on for Allardyce, and the second half was under way.
Youri immediately latched on to a long ball from hunt on the right side and with a superb overhead kick brought Bolton back in the game. Bolton really started to dominate and fight back for the sake of the entire world. Ten Minutes later Thompson took a corner which found its way to lee on the other side, he played in towards cahill, but it was headed clear by Alien 8. Gudni picked it up just outside the box and chipped it back in for it to be met by Super Kev who headed the ball home to make it 3-2 to the aliens.
Nicky Hunt, 5 minutes later, went on a hazy run from the edge of his box, to the edge of theirs. He laid it back to Jay Jay, who this time hit it so hard the leather almost came off the ball, and it flew into the top right hand corner to make it 3 all.
There were still 15 minutes to play and the aliens really pressed forward. Jussi was full stretch about 30 times over the next 15 minutes to deny the visitors, but as Bolton tried to get forward on a breakaway, Jay Jay, so good they named him twice, got brought down from behind 25 yards outside the visiting alien’s goal. It was game over for poor Jay Jay. Neil wanted Zach to go back on, but he wasn’t sure he was up to it, this would be the last kick of the game and the aliens hadn’t said what would happen if there was a draw. Neil told young Zach, “This is your time Zach, the fate of the world rests in your hands, forget being a young Messi……..he’s an older Zach Clough!”
With that Zach stepped out onto the pitch again. The crowd was deathly silent, so much so you would have thought the entire world was holding its breath, which unbeknownst to the players it actually was.
The referee, Howard Webb, told Zach this would be the last kick of the game. Zach stood there, nervous, waiting for the 9 man wide 9 feet tall wall to assemble itself. The ref blew his whistle, and with what seemed like the longest ever run up to the ball, Zach hit it with all his might. The world stood still. The ball looped and swooped around the wall in slow motion. Alien 1 was at full stretch diving towards the top left hand corner of his goal in the same direction the ball was heading. Suddenly an enormous road filled the Macron Stadium. Streets all over the world where filled with people singing “we’re the one and only wanderers!” Zach’s shot had ripped the back of the net. The keeper couldn’t get quite close enough and Bolton Wanderers had saved the world!
The aliens, true to their word, boarded their ship and left the macron, never to bother earth again but only after getting a signed shirt each and some pasties to take back home with them.
As for Bolton, they went on to get promoted that season, with some familiar faces from years gone by once again gracing the shirt.