Nat Lofthouse exhibition opens to public today
THE £75,000 haul of Nat Lofthouse memorabilia bought by a council-led consortium at auction goes on permanent display today.
Doors will open for the public to view the 19 lots in the Bolton Lives gallery at Bolton Museum this morning.
Council chiefs said the auction had presented them with a “unique challenge” but said they were delighted with the outcome.
Last week, it was announced that Bolton Wanderers had joined the council, NCP, Bolton at Home and the Friends of Bolton Museum in buying the lots.
Nat’s family sold 69 of his possessions for more than £102,000 at an auction in Chester on November 6.
The exhibition was launched last night, with The Bolton News’s sports writer Gordon Sharrock delivering a speech highlighting the importance of the various items.
Sean Harriss, chief executive of Bolton Council, said: “I have worked in Bolton for more than 20 years and have a good sense of what makes Bolton people tick even though I was born elsewhere.
“One event stands out in my time and that was Nat Lofthouse’s funeral, on a cold January day. So many fans went out of their way to pay respects to Nat. In times where footballers are often in the press for bad reasons, Nat is truly loved in this town.
“When this auction came up, it threw up a unique challenge given the economic climate but I’m convinced we got it right, and I thank all of our partners for their support. This has secured this fantastic collection for the next generation of fans to enjoy.”
Council leader Cllr Cliff Morris said: “These items are where they should be, with Nat being a son of Bolton. The display looks excellent and we’re delighted it is here to stay.”
The lots on display include his cup medals from the 1953 and 1958 finals, the strips from the matches, his OBE, the cap from the famous “Lion of Vienna” match with Austria in 1952 and the book he received as a guest on This is Your Life.
Mr Sharrock told guests how the ball from the 1958 FA Cup final — yellow to be more visible on black-and-white television — was initially booted to a fan by Manchester United goalkeeper Harry Gregg.
Convention dictated that the winning captain usually kept the ball, but the FA and Wanderers intervened to ensure Nat kept the cherished ball. Nat had scored both goals in Wanderers’ 2-0 win.
Guests also heard the story of Nat bravely netting England’s third goal in a 4-2 win in Vienna in 1952, getting himself knocked unconscious in the process by the on-rushing Austrian goalkeeper, and earning his famous nickname.
The museum is open from 9am to 5pm on weekdays and admission is free.
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