The blog I don’t want to write.
No one knew what had happened as we were watching the ball slide off for a throw but straightaway realised it was serious because both sets of physios dashed onto the field. The player lay face down and still. I wondered out loud if the urgent attention paid to his head meant he had swallowed his tongue but quickly he was on his back. The crowd softly moaned when the first chest compressions were applied.
The players, battle-hardened tough guys, were visibly shocked. Defoe pulled his shirt up over his mouth and crouched on his haunches, wanting to be there for support before tearing himself away. Rafa turned to the Shelf and prayed. A few, including Owen Coyle, came to be close, most were uncertain and kept a reverential distance, drifting back together by the benches for mutual comfort.
The stands were eerily silent. Then, some voices began to shout in encouragement, that particular mixture of anxiety and hope when your team is behind and you want to, have to, lift them. Those moments when they are struggling and you, only you the fans, can inspire them. The moments when the team needs the crowd. More spoke up, louder now, becoming an instinctive roar. ‘Come on, come on!’ For the player, perhaps for the man calmly and firmly pounding his chest. ‘Come on!’
From high in the corner of the Park Lane, the ragged bunch of loyal Bolton fans started to sing Muamba’s name and the whole of the Lane joined in. Then respectful, bewildered silence again, followed by successive bouts of cheering and chanting, standing to applaud every step as he was carried off, the pounding pounding continuing all the while.
My sincere and heartfelt good wishes to Fabrice Muamba and his family, extended to any Bolton supporters who may come across this. Full credit to Howard Webb whose authority was never in doubt. Much maligned and often deservedly so, football fans came together in a remarkable and touching way to respect a man who needed us and to respect the game we all love with a passion. Fabrice Muamba is one of us.