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Focus on Bolton after testing week

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Dan Walker | 18:41 UK time, Thursday, 22 March 2012

At the start of the year Team Focus (we don't call ourselves that by the way) sat down to discuss where we should take our On the Road shows in 2012.

We're doing our best to work our way around, and so far we've been to 12 of the 20 Premier League clubs and five in the Football League.

Choice numero uno in February was Sunderland, which turned out to be a beauty, as Martin O'Neill was weaving his magic and there was a real feel-good factor when we turned up.

Unfortunately for Sunderland, Thierry Henry also made the trip to the North East that day for Arsenal and popped the Black Cats' balloon.

Fabrice Muamba

Football supporters from all across the world have left get well messages for Fabrice Muamba outside Bolton's Reebok Stadium. Photo: Getty

We decided that March would be a good time to concentrate on the bottom of the table and Saturday's match between Bolton and Blackburn was hard to ignore.

The two teams are separated by only a short drive and both looked like they would be locked in a relegation fight until the end of the season.

As it turns out, Bolton seems an appropriate place to be this weekend, but for an entirely different reason.

I think most football fans will remember where they were last Saturday and the events at White Hart Lane will remain firmly etched in the memory.

A super fit, young, popular footballer collapsed and, as the Bolton club doctor said this week, was "in effect dead" for 78 minutes.

The way the Bolton and Spurs medical staff handled the situation was phenomenal and has rightly been praised.

If Fabrice Muamba had been anywhere but a football ground, it may have been a different story.

There are a lot of things wrong with football, but the response of the last week has shown how powerful a force for good it can be.

This weekend, Bolton simply want to say thank you. We will be at the Reebok Stadium from 1215 GMT to preview what I'm sure will be an emotional and poignant occasion.

Bolton striker Kevin Davies showed his captain's colours this week, speaking with real authority, and Trotters manager Owen Coyle has been immense.

Every word has been perfect and every sentiment genuine.

He spent the early part of the week at Fabrice's bedside and now has to try to help his other players recover from the traumatic experience of last weekend.

Chairman Phil Gartside is another who has been a rock for the club, and he will join us at the start of the show.

Countless players have made it to the London Chest Hospital for visits and fans have left messages, scarves and shirts to show their support.

Muamba's former Arsenal team-mate Henry even flew in from the United States just to be there for his friend.

Our thoughts, as they have been all week, are with Fabrice and his family. We hope he makes a speedy recovery.

When Bill Shankly joked that football was more important than life and death, it understandably provoked a reaction and has remained one of the game's most well-known quotes.

We all know it is not, but what football does is provide so many with so much pleasure and has a unique ability to unite communities and countries along the way. That's why we love it.

On Saturday, Bolton and Blackburn players will be there to win, but both clubs will unite to pay tribute to a brave 23-year-old who has already shown an incredible amount of courage to come through the events of last weekend.

See Football Focus at 1215 GMT on BBC1 on Saturday, live from the Reebok Stadium.


  • Comment number 1.

    best wishes to muamba for a speedy recovery.

  • Comment number 2.

    Here's hoping that Fabrice gets well soon. Whether or not he's able to kick a ball in anger again, I think Bolton have a new hero...

    Not been around for a while, do people still sign off with random footballers?

    Uwe Rosler

  • Comment number 3.

    nope...nowadays they sign on with random footballers.

  • Comment number 4.

    Glad to hear that muamba is conscious and seems to have no lasting mental effects (for now). I hope he can recover fully though I doubt he'll be able to play again.

    If he chooses to stay in football he could have a coaching career or work as an ambassador for the club. Either way, good to hear that he's ok and a big shout out to the medical staff and to the Doctor that was a spectator at WHL who helped.

    Mustapha Hadji

  • Comment number 5.

    Dan & Bloggers,
    The Muamba incident has provoked all manner of responses over here in the USA. Most people who have heard about the whole thing are amazed that he received such fine treatment so promptly. I've directed a few people to the BBC's own interviews with the medics and cardiologists who were at White Hart Lane, see
    That such an awful situation should happen and that the 23 yr old should recover so remarkably is nothing short of "miraculous" to quote Dr. Andrew Deaner. As eduard_s_g in #4 said big shout out for that man. Remarkable that so many of the right people happened to just be there at the same time.
    I'll try to find FF from Rebok some where on line.

    Moving on Dan, I think some attention should be focussed upon Arsene's remarkable renaissance. R. V-P, Rossicky, Vermaelen, Oxlade Chambs, and Sczezensky have had a great season, with others like Arteta, Ramsey and Walcott doing stirling work too.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well written Dan and a good promo for FF on Sat. Looking foward to it.

    God still is in the miracle business. Let's pray Muamba makes a full recovery and gets to lead Bolton on to the pitch some day.

    Have been glued to all the interviews on BBC football website. Well done to all.

    Keep her lit.



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