IF YOU find yourself at Bolton’s Reebok Stadium on Sunday afternoon and feel tempted to respond to the inevitable baiting of the home crowd, perhaps bite your lip for a second.
Because the denizens of the Trotters’ home base have had some ups and downs, which Evertonians have been spared only by some very fine margins.
During the 1997/98 season Gareth Farrelly, a man who has incidentally worn the royal blue of Everton and the white of the Wanderers, saved the Toffees’ bacon with his last-day goal against Coventry City that staved off relegation. Just.
Of course, deep sighs and ground swells of relief in Merseyside were not shared along the M62 in Lancashire when Bolton slumped out of the Premier League on goal difference.
Colin Todd’s depression at the time was only deepened by the fact that his side might well have survived, at Everton’s expense.
Bolton’s first ever game at the Reebok was a 0-0 draw against Everton the previous September, when the home side were unjustly denied victory by referee Stephen Lodge who failed to spot that Gerry Taggart's looping header had fallen six inches behind the line before it was cleared by defender Terry Phelan.
The match ended goalless, and the teams finished level on points at the end of the season. Maybe it’d be fair to say there aren’t too many fond memories of Everton visits to this corner of the North West.
They say what comes around, goes around though and the ensuing years have seen Everton denied plenty of goals in the face of logic, albeit none quite so costly in the grand scheme of things as Gerry Taggart’s.
Just last weekend against Blackpool Louis Saha had a perfectly good goal chalked off.
Referee Kevin Friend blew up to penalise Seasiders full-back David Carney for a tug on Seamus Coleman, but his whistle sounded just as Saha was about to see his strike cross the line.
David Moyes’ fury was softened by his side’s eventual comfortable win and a refreshingly candid apology from Friend, but it wasn’t the first time.
Who could forget the outcry when Andrew Johnson’s strike against Blackburn Rovers was ruled out in February 2008?
The Blues striker appeared to have given Everton a deserved victory with five minutes remaining but a linesman adjudged the goal to be offside.
“I have seen the replay,” said Moyes at the time. “I take the linesman at his word when he said there was only one player but when James Vaughan makes the tackle he falls and then scoops the pass to Andy Johnson. There is at least two behind the ball – I think there was three maybe four in line so it would mean it is a goal.
“I don’t want to sound like a whinger – I don’t want to talk about referees but I just hope those two points don’t come to cost us. For us at Everton it is really important that we keep pushing for those places.”
And remember Everton were in fourth spot in the Premier League at the time.
Maybe the fury Moyes felt then was matched by Arsene Wenger at the Emirates at the start of the month when Louis Saha’s first half goal was given despite being blatantly offside. It certainly prompted Cesc Fabregas (who is in no way an arrogant, spoilt brat.. no really..) to vent his frustration at half-time.
But easily the biggest miscarriage of footballing justice Royal Blue has witnessed in recent history left the Toffees truly licking their wounds.
Where could this football club be now if Pierluigi Collina had not inexplicably disallowed Duncan Ferguson’s header, during the Champions League qualifier against Villareal in 2005.
Supposedly for an offence by Marcus Bent, who was actually having his own shirt tugged by one of the Spanish defenders. It was a decision that still inflames Evertonian tempers now.
So spare a thought for the ghosts of disallowed goals past at the Reebok today – but try not to lose too much sleep.