Well, it’s time for a slightly revitalised Bolton Wanderers to visit the Carra, so once again who better for MFW to turn to than NCFC Hall of Famer and former long-serving physio, the one and only Tim Sheppard – Bolton born and bred and as proud of that fact as a peacock’s tail.
Tim’s proud to support both teams – it’s amazing how many honorary Canaries are out there – so is he looking forward to the game?
Tim: I’m bottling it actually! I couldn’t bear to see either team lose and I’m off to Sri Lanka on holiday so I’ll miss it.
The last time I went to Carrow Road for a Wanderers game my nephew came down from the North and I was gutted we lost 2-1.
That would be the well-remembered match during the Lambert era when Kyle Naughton (all five feet and a fag butt of him) filled in at centre-back for most of the second half then?
Yes – don’t remind me!
The three Sheppard daughters (Laura, Hannah and Frankie) are all Norwich followers. Does that make life awkward?
No, not really because they understand my sympathies. They might not support Bolton but they get why I do and that’s good enough for me.
So, what’s going on at the Macron, Tim?
Obviously I’m gutted that Gary Madine has gone but that six million quid or whatever will keep us afloat and see us through until the end of the season and hopefully longer. We’ve brought in a clutch of loanees which will help to give us a bit of squad depth.” [For the record these are three I’ve heard of and three I haven’t: Zach Clough and Tyler Walker (Forest), Jon Flanagan (Liverpool), Reece Burke (West Ham) and Antonee Robinson and Harry Charlsey (both Everton) – MP].
Can the Trotters survive in the Championship this season?
Yes, they can. Because of the embargo and everything else it’s been really difficult but what we have is basically a squad of League One players who have begun to slowly find their feet at this level. I’m confident enough to say we’ve got a chance.
We then progressed to Tim’s forte – tales of his home town. We’ll kick off with the sporting ones:
We’re famous for centre forwards – Nat Lofthouse, the Lion of Vienna, as I mentioned last time, and so many others. The appreciation of them is absolutely ingrained in me and will never leave. We also produced one of the best snooker stars of the ‘Pot Black’ era in John Spencer and quite a few other prominent sportsmen too.
Well, there’s a place on the Moors called Winter Hill which many Wanderers players would scale and then return from the top of as part of their fitness regime [Their version of Mousehold – MP] It was quite impressive to see Andrew (Freddie) Flintoff doing the same thing a while back – a great way to build up stamina!
Well, my wife Angela is a midwife by profession and was once called to a house in the local area to perform her duties. When she asked for the householder by name she was simply told that everybody knows him! On hearing his name, she asked if he was in a rock band! One of the (literally) biggest figures in English football and still prominently plying his trade at top level management today. [C’mon the article’s about Bolton, I’m sure our readers will work it out – MP].
No chat with Tim would be complete without a couple of his off-piste anecdotes. I researched this one because I wasn’t sure of the spellings, not to test his veracity.
There’s a place just outside of Bolton called Westhoughton, but the locals know part or all of it as Keawyed City. For Keawyed, read cowhead. One day a farmer came home to find one of his cattle with its head stuck in a five-bar gate. Weighing up the costs involved he kept the gate and decapitated the unfortunate beast in order to remove it.
There is an alternative version of the above tale connected to the battle of Waterloo, subsequent celebrations and zero beheading of the bovine species, but I’ll stick with Tim’s original, even if only because I cannot be bothered to reiterate a story about Napoleon, Luddites and what may very well be a load of bullocks.
Tim’s best shot is up last, and here it comes: We’ve all heard of the world’s only famous steeplejack, the late Boltonian Fred Dibnah, I’m sure…
There’s a place near Bolton called Bank Top Tennis Cub and the building installed a microbrewery. The brewers approached Fred to see if they could name an ale after him. Flat Cap, he suggested. A while later they created a lighter beer and asked Fred again. Old Nag, he said. In homage to his first wife. She sued through the courts and Fred lost.
As I left Tim in peace to cook an evening meal for one of his daughters (Not the stereotypical hotpot or black pudding we had been laughing about but chicken pie, mixed veg and mash with a token nod to his Lancastrian heritage via spotted dick and custard) I did the usual score prediction question thingy. Tim’s response was most unexpected:
Norwich versus Bolton in the FA Cup Final next season. Yes Martin, I mean it.
At this point I’ve yet to visit my local bookies but I think I might soon. You never know…
Cheers to Shep for another cracking interview.