Small Town In Poland &Roger Boli
As part of our tie up with Walsall fanzine Small Town in Poland (see STIP forum to buy on line) we bring you an article from the missing issue three!! enjoy.
The Saddlers have had a few seasonal top scorers over the last decade or so. The names Lightbourne, Rammell, Leitao and Fryatt will bring fond memories to the majority ofsupporters, a varying breed of front-men who scored important goals and, with perhaps the exception of the latter, endured themselves eternally to the Bescot faithful. On the otherhand it hasn`t exactly made unpleasant viewing to see Junior drop from the footballing radar,
nor to watch the career of half-arsed, money grabbing and hilariously England-cappedMichael Ricketts steadily hurtle into disrepair.
But nearly ten years on from his one term stint in red (and black chequers), I`m still not sure what I think of Roger Boli?
Cousin of legend Basille and top scorer in French football only three seasons before, Boli joined from Le Harve in July 1997 a major coup for newly installed manager/publican Jan Sorensen who needed to replace the afore mentioned 'Killer`. Diminutive, skilful and pacey Boli showed much promise scoring six goals in as many games at the start of the season
linking well with fellow French newcomer Jeff Peron.
Indeed, an early home encounter with Southend saw Boli connect with a Peron cross to score arguably one of the best goals scored at the Bescot. If you can`t quite remember you can find the clip on a certain internet file sharing site, it really does get better every time. With
perfect technique his acrobatic overhead-kick flew into the top corner putting him on the way to an impressive hatrick.
Partnering Andy Watson, Boli scored freely before Christmas hitting seventeen goals the majority of which came in cup competition. Progression to the Fourth Round of the League Cup saw the Saddlers overcome the likes of Forest and Sheffield United in enthralling ties before the yearly exit to West Ham. His league form remained good and Boli notched twice
in the 7-0 victory at Macclesfield on the way to an FA Cup Fourth Round draw away at
After much hype (Boli claimed Ex-Lens team mate Eric Cantona would be in attendance) and a sound 5-1 defeat he beamed through his interview on Match of the Day, however hisconsolation goal, a well placed header past Peter Schmiechel saw both the 1997-1998 season and Roger Boli`s Walsall career start to peter out.
In the league the Saddlers found themselves fighting a relegation battle with the Big Fat
One rapidly losing the respect of senior players. Boli`s running and trickery became
disinterest and lethargy, already a marked man Boli was often ushered out of games by
physical centre halves he was previously outwitting and out pacing and only six goals followed the United tie. Three of those came in the (Insert your own name) Football League Cup where he scored in all rounds leading to the Area Final loss to AFC Bournemouth.
Boli always seemed to have an eye on the prize, however exceptionally he played in cup competition his league performances dwindled as it became clear the side would struggle to finish in the top half of the table. Had his later league performances matched those before Christmas he could so easily have added to an impressive twenty-four Saddlers goals, twelve of which were scored in cup games. Whether it was tiredness, Sorenson, Peron`s transfer
request, or just the man himself, where the blame lies for his drop of form we will never know, you do have to wonder what Sir Ray would have got out of him… Nevertheless, Roger Boli scored his last Walsall goal in a 1-1 away draw at Fulham.
Amid rumours of Adie Viveash and Derek Mountfield running secret training sessions the side avoided relegation by four points, Fat Jan was sacked and Boli, like Peron, was off. The attraction of the Scottish Premiership which would one day boast such goal-scoring ex-Walsall talent as Andrew Barrowman and Gary Wales was obviously too great for Boli. Dundee United paid a hansom £150,000 for his services only a year after he signed on a
Bosman free but injury kept him out of the side and following a switch to Bournemouth, he retired.
Boli returned to the public lime-light in the summer, now a recognised FIFA Agent he was involved in the controversial transfer of Pascal Chimbonda from Wigan to Spurs and also represents a host of French and Ivorian players from his base in Lens.
It would be easier to remember Roger Boli for his trickery and skill, the big smile or the special goals against Southend, York and Man United. But I just can`t help that wondering just what might have been.
Si..From the STIP team