Sheffield Wednesday nearly man on Derby County, survival and Nottingham Forest 'chucking it'
Had Lee Grant been able to keep James Beattie’s late curling effort out of the Bramall Lane net, Adam Bolder would likely be regarded as one of Sheffield Wednesday’s major modern day cult heroes.
The Yorkshire-born midfielder scored only two goals in a 14-game loan spell under Brian Laws in 2008. It just so happened that those two goals put the Owls 2-0 up and well on their way to their first double over Sheffield United in 94 years.
That was until Beattie’s 85th minute strike finished the job that Richard Wood’s own goal started, earning the Blades a draw against all odds. Wednesday would have to wait another year.
The thing is, Adam Bolder, now a teacher and radio commentator, knows about derby matches and puts the Steel City affair up there with any he’s played in before.
Those two goals, he said, were among the best moments of a career that started at Hull and saw him captain QPR and Millwall.
“From my point of view I was just frustrated because we should’ve won the game,” he told The Star. “When you’re a player, and people might laugh at this, but it’s not about taking the praise for scoring, you just want to win games.
“I’ve played in the East Mids derby, QPR against Charlton, QPR against Chelsea, and it [the Sheffield derby] was massive.
“You only have to be in the city that week to understand just how big the derby is. And it was a bit special because I didn’t like Warnock anyway! We never really got on.
“When I was at Derby I did a bit of a naughty tackle on Chris Morgan and he spent weeks trying to get me banned and we never saw eye to eye. Luckily I left QPR just before he took over, but if I was on his team he would’ve probably liked all that!
“I remember that day seeing him at the ground and he was stood there swearing at me, he said to me, ‘I could never get rid of you!’”
As a radio summariser on Derby County matches, covering the side for whom he played nearly 200 times including in the Premier League, he has a unique view on the three-way relegation scrap between the Rams, Wednesday and Rotherham United.
Should Wednesday better the Rams’ result this weekend – they welcome Nottingham Forest while Derby travel to Swansea – a quirk of the fixture schedule means it may well be that the two sides are involved in a last day shootout for survival at Pride Park.
Bolder, now 40, looks on in anguish at the position his two former clubs find themselves in.
“It’s crazy when you look at the size of the two clubs, lingering at the bottom of the Championship,” he said.
“In my view, there are a lot of good clubs in the Championship, even two of my other old clubs; Millwall and QPR, they are good honest clubs and it’s been about getting on that run. No game is easy anymore.
“Derby have a very young team, not a great deal of experience and it’s showing. When you’re down at the bottom, confidence is hard to come by and it gets more and more difficult. You need players who have been there, done it and know how to deal with that pressure and it’ll be a tough couple of games for both teams.
“It’s easy when you’re midtable and there’s nothing on the result, but when you’re down, well, it’s a hell of a lot more difficult. I’ve been in that position before and I know what it’s like you need leaders out there and people that have been there and done it. Derby don’t have those.”
Bolder is most known for his bursting onto the scene at Derby and though he has beloved memories of his time at Hillsborough, freely admits it is the Rams he is willing to survival this season.
Those allegiances could so easily switched, though, had Brian Laws got his way and brought Bolder to the club full-time.
Only the crazy demands of QPR’s infamous ownership, led by mad-cap Italian businessman Flavio Briatore, put an end to the deal.
“I was captain at QPR with Briatore and those guys,” he said. “The first game he came to watch we got beaten 4-0 at home to Southampton.
“He decided everybody he had seen in that team was gone. I lasted longer than some but his mind was made up on that afternoon. Everyone out.
“So I went to Wednesday on loan and I loved it. It was frustrating I was offered a three-year contract at Wednesday at the end of the season and I fancied it, but I had a year left at QPR and they wouldn’t let me go.”
As someone who appreciates the ferocity of derby matches more than most, he laughed off the notion that Nottingham Forest players may be tempted to roll over on Wednesday and increase the relegation threat hanging over rivals Derby.
“Some fans might joke about it,” he said. But no. It’s not in a footballer’s mindset. If I was playing and I felt any idea that any of our lads weren’t putting everything into a game, I’d go barmy. It just doesn’t happen.
“At the end of the day you’re professionals. You don’t like losing in a five-a-side against one another at training, never mind going out and losing in an actual game. Once you cross that white line you’re there to win and that’s that.
“I wish neither of them had to go down.”