This weekend sees the first of Bolton's Former Player Events, with a large number of past players expected to enjoy a prematch feed, drink and no doubt catch up on how the game was so much better in their day... Whilst the members of the aptly named Compost Corner reminisce the 1st XV will be preparing for their first known fixture against Altrincham Kersal.
Altrincham, relegated from North One West last season, have made a strong start to the season winning five from five, securing 5 bonus points in the process and are currently placed second with a game in hand over current league leaders and bitter rivals Bowdon. It is clear there is no love lost between the sides if social media is anything to go by, albeit AK seem to have remained quiet on that front and are letting their rugby do the talking.
Having played at the dizzy heights of National 3 (Level 5) in recent seasons, there is no doubt that today's visitors will provide a stern test for Dave Crouch's men. Experience has taught Bolton that teams used to competing in the leagues above often bring a ruthless streak with them and will always aim to capitalise on any opportunity given to them. AK were handed a two week break thanks to the planned free weekend and following that, the impact of only having 13 teams in Lancashire/Cheshire 1. It will be interesting to see how that may affect the visitors, but regardless, a tough battle is expected.
Despite never meeting, there will be some familiarity this Saturday when former Bolton RUFC Junior and 1st XV Player, JP Singleton returns to face his old club. Despite being later on in his career, JP is a dangerous player that will exploit any holes in the Bolton defence. No doubt his father 'Big John' will be on the sidelines, but who he will be cheering for is up for debate...
From a Bolton perspective, they go into this with some excellent momentum. Last weekends win against Tarleton made it five wins on the bounce and it is vital that they bring their A Game this Saturday. It is clear to see what Dave Crouch is trying to develop within his side who played with real intention last weekend, implementing a distinct game plan throughout the 80 minutes, however conditions weren't ideal and often final passes were left begging. With a dry week forecast it remains to be seen if the Cherry and Whites and minimise those errors and maintain their current winning form.
Regardless of the result, this fixture promises to be a cracker with so much up for grabs. No Doubt Bowdon will be keeping an ear to the ground or even standing on the sidelines with them now being the beneficiaries of a weekend off.