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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 January 2007, 17:22 GMT
Kevin Nolan column
The Kevin Nolan column
By Kevin Nolan
Bolton captain

People say that the FA Cup has lost some of its sparkle but I do not agree.

At Bolton we know that winning a cup competition is our best chance of winning silverware.

Kevin Nolan celebrates scoring against Arsenal last season
I saw the FA Cup trophy at a function not so long ago but refused to touch it

We have real quality but are realistic enough to acknowledge that over a 38-game season we are unlikely to win the Premiership.

With the size of our squad a few injuries at the wrong time, for example, could really have an impact.

The FA Cup is different - West Ham reached the final last season and a club like Bolton has the ability to win it.

A few years ago we reached the final of the League Cup and I am desperate to repeat the feeling and excitement that surrounded the week leading up to the game.

I would like to forget about the result - Middlesbrough beat us 2-1 - but the memories will live forever.

I saw the FA Cup trophy at a function not so long ago but refused to touch it - the first time I do so I hope to be lifting it in front of a packed Wembley.

When some foreign players arrive at Bolton they do not have the same passion for the FA Cup as I do - but it does not take long before they start to feel the same way.

They see how much pride players feel about playing in the competition and are amazed at the reaction to some of the shocks, surprised by how teams from the lower leagues raise their game against superior opposition.

To progress further this season we must overcome Arsenal, which won't be easy given the way they are playing at the moment.

Bolton have a good record against Arsenal - we have won four of our last seven meetings and drawn two - but this will count for nothing on Sunday.

This is the third season in succession we have met Arsenal in the FA Cup and to be honest I'm becoming sick and tired of playing them!

We are often described as the new Wimbledon in the media while Arsenal are billed as the best footballing team in the country.

I understand why FA Cup games are just too expensive for many supporters

It has been hyped as ugly against gorgeous and whenever we win it is a triumph for the team that kicked and scrapped their way to victory.

To be honest, I wouldn't mind all those headlines again on Monday morning if it means we are into the next round.

Attendances are often used as some kind of indicator as to the popularity of the FA Cup.

Many season tickets don't include cup games and, with the cost involved in watching football, I can understand why forking out for extra fixtures over and above the Premiership is just too much.

At the same time I understand that the clubs have to try to maximise their revenue but, from a playing point of view, there is nothing better than playing in front of a packed ground.

I would like to see some kind of restructuring over the next few years to try to ensure that grounds are full more often.

For instance, Bolton have an offer for their next two home Premiership games that allows season ticket holders to bring another person to the game for 5.

We have sold our allocation for the Arsenal game on Sunday and everyone who has bought a ticket is eligible for free coach travel that the club is putting on to get to and from London for the game.

Hopefully these initiatives will bring more people in and increase revenue for the club because the new faces are spending money in other ways besides their admission cost.

If we do make it all the way this year I'm sure Wembley will be packed for the final with no need for price offers.

And one thing I can guarantee is that if we do get there we will not be wearing cream suits like Liverpool in 1996 - though El-Hadji Diouf would probably want to!

By the way, thanks for all your suggestions about a new goal celebration. Keep them coming.


After you have scored a goal and all your team mates join you to celebrate what sort of comments do they make? (printable answers only)
Jackie Gibson, England

Beep beep goal, beep beep beep goal!

Then perhaps something about making sure we get the ball back quickly, stay focused and do not concede. Simple but effective points.

Hi Kevin, love the column. Is Stewart Downing the solution to England's left side problem?
Martin Cooke, British Virgin Islands

I don't think we really have a problem down the left-hand side.

Although he is injured at the moment Joe Cole has done really well on the left and Steven Gerrard has played on the left for Liverpool.

Downing was brilliant against us last weekend when Middlesbrough beat us, he really showed his class and I expect him to be in the next England squad.

If he has a regular run in the side I think he will prove that he can do the business.

I have not really considered playing on the left but would do so if it meant I got the opportunity to play for England!

Hi Kevin,
I enjoy the column and read it every week. My question is how many pairs of boots do you get through in a season?
Oliver Antcliff, Manchester, England

Taking into account both matches and training I would say about six or seven a season.

I try to keep my match boots for as long as I can, changing them just once or twice a season.

I really enjoy reading your insights into the professional footballer's experience. As a coach I was wondering what you do when you walk off the pitch. I read that a cool-down session is very important so do you and your team-mates go somewhere to do this or do you go straight to the dressing room for 'feedback' from Sam Allardyce and then to a cool-down?
Vince Neale, USA

After a game we return to the dressing room and the manager speaks to us.

We then have an ice bath and focus on drinking specially prepared shakes and restoring energy levels by eating the right sort of foods, such as fruit and pasta.

We do not have cool-downs any more.

Hey Kevin. I love your column. I have been sending you e-mails every week but so far you haven't replied to any of them so maybe I just need better questions! Who is the biggest joker at Bolton?
Finn, England

We have got a few players who are quite funny but the one we all laugh at the most is El-Hadji Diouf.

He is not a joker as such but we find him very funny. No matter where he is on the training ground we can hear him. We laugh at him - but in a nice way.

  • Kevin will continue to answer a selection of your questions each week throughout the season. Send us your questions using the post form in the top right-hand corner.

  • Send Kevin your questions using this form and read his answers to a selection of last week's at the bottom of the page
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    Middlesbrough 5-1 Bolton
    20 Jan 07 |  Premiership


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