Countdown to a Bolton Wanderers legend: John McGinlay's top 50 at 50

The Bolton News: John McGinlay - 50 years and counting John McGinlay - 50 years and counting

To mark John McGinlay's 50th birthday, chief football writer Marc Iles has compiled a half century of landmarks in the making of a true Bolton Wanderers legend.

Here, counting down from 50 to one, are a selection of the most notable events in Super John's career with the Whites. 

50. The Super John Column

The Bolton News teamed up with McGinlay for a popular weekly column for three seasons, starting when he worked in the US and finishing after he was appointed chief scout at Wigan Athletic.

49. A Sign of Things to Come

The first time McGinlay faced Wolves in a league game he got on the score-sheet. Yes, it was a 3-1 defeat in Graham Taylor’s first game in charge but much better was in store for the Scot.

48. The Second to Last One

McGinlay’s penultimate goal for Wanderers came in the inauspicious surroundings of Leyton Orient’s Brisbane Road – a looping effort that beat O’s keeper Paul Hyde.

47. The Last One

McGinlay’s last goal came from the penalty spot against Leyton Orient in a League Cup tie that finished 4-4. It was the only goal he ever scored at the Reebok Stadium.

46. Inauspicious Start

McGinlay’s debut won’t be fondly remembered – a 1-0 defeat, which ironically came against Leyton Orient once again!

45. You Can Take the Boy Out of Bolton

McGinlay’s Bradford career was sabotaged by injury – but on December 13, 1997 he scored the only goal of the game to beat Wanderers’ local rivals, and his former club, Bury 1-0 at Valley Parade.

44. Premier Opener

McGinlay’s first Premier League goal was scored after 24 minutes of a 1-1 home draw against Middlesbrough in September 1995.

43. Beating the Blues

The sun was setting on Wanderers’ first Premier League campaign but there was life in the old dog yet. Sasa Curcic grabbed the headlines with a virtuoso display but McGinlay set the ball rolling on a 2-1 victory over Chelsea with an equaliser just before half time, after stealing on to Alan Stubbs’ pass.

42. Penalty King

Only three other players have scored more penalties than John McGinlay in Wanderers’ history – Tony Philliskirk (22), Francis Lee (25) and Joe Smith (40). McGinlay’s first came in a 1-1 draw against Blackpool in February 1993.

41. The Don

One of the few bright moments of the first-ever Premier League campaign was a 1-0 home win over Wimbledon, courtesy of McGinlay’s 44th minute penalty.

40. Better Plate Than Never

During a pre-season tour in America, McGinlay travelled down to visit his old team-mate Owen Coyle in a car with the registration plate BWFC 10.

39. Three Hour Limit

McGinlay is the 11th most prolific Wanderers striker of all time, with his 118 goals coming at a rate of one every 175 minutes on the pitch.

38. Pride Stung

McGinlay tore into the Wanderers team after a damaging 6-0 defeat at home to Manchester United, pointing out: “We didn’t even get a yellow card.” 37. First Trio McGinlay’s first of three hat-tricks for Wanderers came against Charlton Athletic in March 1994. One goal came from the penalty spot.

36. Goal Getter

McGinlay finished as Wanderers’ top goalscorer in four consecutive seasons between 1993/94 and 1996/7. The only other men to have done that in the club’s history are Tony Caldwell, Nat Lofthouse (twice), Jack Milsom and James Cassidy.

35. High Five McGinlay scored for the fifth game in a row when he netted the second in a 2-0 win over Huddersfield Town in November 1996. He also scored five in a row later that season, ending with a goal against Reading in February.

34. Stop the Rot

Wanderers had lost top spot after a run of eight winless games in the 1996/97 season but a McGinlay goal to salvage a point at Swindon on December 22 spread some festive cheer. The Whites would go on to win 17 of 22 games that season.

33. Cometh the Hour

Bruce Rioch’s side were struggling a little on their return to the second tier and lay 20th after a 2-2 draw at West Brom in November. McGinlay then scored the decisive goals in two back-to-back 1-0 wins over Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace to get them back towards mid-table.

32. Milestone Mark

A goal against Barnsley on the final day of the 1993/94 season gave McGinlay 33 in all competitions – equalling the post-war record held jointly by Nat Lofthouse and Andy Walker.

31. Thirty Up

The magical 30-goal mark has only been hit 13 times in Bolton Wanderers’ history, and only four players have managed to do it twice. McGinlay (1993/94 and 1996/97) joins Nat Lofthouse, Jack Milsom and Harold Blackmore in the double thirty club.

30. So Goodison

After toppling Liverpool the previous season, Wanderers started on the blue half of Merseyside – with McGinlay scoring the first on another memorable night. His sweet volley, nicked off Andy Hinchcliffe’s boot to take it away from Neville Southall, set up a thrilling comeback from 2-0 down to win 3-2.

29. Legendary Status

An official poll run by the club in 2005 found McGinlay to be the third greatest player in the club’s history behind Jay Jay Okocha and the legendary Nat Lofthouse.

28. McGinlay Ink

To cement his love of the club, McGinlay is famous for having had the Wanderers badge tattooed on his arm. The work was done by the renowned Dave T’s tattoo shop.

27. Burnden, John - John, Burnden.

The first glimpse Bolton’s home fans got of Super John was in a home game against Hull City in October 1992. He scored the first goal of a 2-0 win.

26. Euro Trailblazer

Whilst not strictly one of the major competitions, McGinlay did score Wanderers’ first goal against competitive European opposition as he netted in a 5-0 win over Ancona in the ill-fated Anglo-Italian Cup in 1993.

25. Biting Back at the Lions

McGinlay made it four goals in four days, as soon after his double against Ancona, he netted another brace to give him, Tony Kelly, Keith Branagan and Bruce Rioch a happy return against their former club Millwall.

24. Century’s Up

McGinlay’s 100th Wanderers goal came from the penalty spot against Crystal Palace in November 1996. He and John Sheridan had given the Whites a 2-0 advantage, pegged back by two goals in two minutes just before the break by David Hopkin and a certain Dougie Freedman!

23. Red Warning

McGinlay netted his 10th goal of the 92/93 season in an FA Cup third round tie with a header against Liverpool at a frozen Burnden on January 3, 1993. Despite taking a 2-0 lead, Wanderers couldn’t see the game out and Ian Rush saved the holder’s blushes... temporarily.

22. Supply Man

Nerves are jangling as McGinlay’s goal separates Liverpool and Wanderers in that infamous FA Cup night in 1993. He skips down the right and floats a deep cross in for Andy Walker to head home and send the travelling Wanderers fans into raptures.

21. Super John Sinks Wolves Part One

October afternoon at Burnden Park – McGinlay lands yet another telling blow on the old enemy before Darren Ferguson is sent off in stoppage time. Three points and a Fergie sent to the stands? Where have we heard that before?

20. Super John Sinks Wolves Part Two

A game simply known as The Battle of Burnden. With the game just five minutes old, 21 players erupted into a mass brawl – Bryan Small discounted – before “order” was restored. John Sheridan ended the day bloodied after a second melee, sparked after Nathan Blake had been hauled down by Dean Richards. McGinlay, of course, scored the first of three that day for the Whites – Nathan Blake adding a second before Keith Curle’s own goal capped off a memorable day.

19. Great Scots

McGinlay’s partnership with countryman Andy Walker was one of the most prolific in Wanderers’ history. In all, the strikers shared an incredible 55 goals in all competitions during the 1992/93 campaign.

18. Double Trouble

After Walker, McGinlay’s most proflic strike partner was Nathan Blake. The pair shared an amazing 54 goals in all competitions during the 1995/96 season.

17. Half Century in Style

McGinlay racks up his 50th Wanderers goal with a header against Middlesbrough – then barges into the far post and nearly knocks himself out!

16. Triple Mac

After scoring his 50th goal for the club, McGinlay netted a 15-minute hat-trick to help sink Middlesbrough 4-1. For the record, Scott Green added the fourth.

15. Super John Sinks Wolves Part Three

After beating Liverpool in the previous round, McGinlay began his “love affair” with the Old Gold with the second goal in an FA Cup fourth round win at Molineux. Ex-Wolves trainee Scott Green scored the first.

14. High Time

After holding Arsenal at Burnden, Wanderers headed for Highbury in 1994 for another famous FA Cup night. A 3-1 win was kick-started by McGinlay’s close-range header, after Owen Coyle had hooked a cross back into the six-yard box.

13. Hot Spurs

Premier League Spurs were hit for six, with McGinlay bagging a hat-trick in a memorable night at Burnden Park. Gerry Taggart, Nathan Blake and Scott Taylor also scored past future Wanderers keeper Ian Walker.

12. Top Gunning

Feeding on a fine threaded pass from Jason McAteer, McGinlay steers the only goal of the game past David Seaman to hand Wanderers a 1-0 win over Arsenal in September 1995.

11. Boro Boy

Possibly the pick of all McGinlay’s Wanderers goals came earlier that month – receiving a pass from Fabian de Fretias, he flicked the ball up and then unleashed an unstoppable dipping volley from the edge of the box.

10. The First One

McGinlay arrived at Bolton in early October 1992 but had to wait until a fortnight after his debut against Leyton Orient to score his first goal, against Chester City, in a 2-2 draw at the old Sealand Road.

9. Wembley Beckons

Wanderers had fought back to level their two-legged semi-final against Swindon thanks to goals from Jason McAteer and Mixu Paatelainen – but wouldn’t you just know who’d win the game. Richard Sneekes’ free kick took a fortuitous deflection into McGinlay’s path, and he made no mistake, sending his side into a Wembley meeting with Liverpool.

8. Super John Sinks Wolves Part Four

Wanderers were 2-1 down to Wolves after the play-off semi-final first leg. Bruce Rioch had called for a “cauldron of passion” and he got his wish when John Sheridan chipped a pass through the middle for McGinlay to lash home. Game on.

7. Super John Sink Wolves Part Five

Into injury time, Wanderers were looking for the decisive goal. Fabian de Fretias got down the right and drilled a low cross home for McGinlay. “That is the goal that surely sees Bolton Wanderers back to Wembley,” screams commentator Clive Tyldesley. “Although in my opinion, he shouldn’t even be on the pitch.” Tough luck.

6. Jeepers Keepers

“I’ve now got four goalkeepers on my books now,” proclaimed Colin Todd after McGinlay had donned the gloves against Reading to see-out a 2-1 win. After scoring the decisive goal, the Scotland international replaced the injured Keith Branagan between the posts, making a crucial late save from Michael Gilks.

5. He Does It Again!

An expectant Anfield watches David Lee evade Mike Marsh, skip down the left and drift a wonderful cross into the penalty box – up goes McGinlay to head down past Mike Hooper. One of Wanderers’ most famous FA Cup nights had just got White Hot.

4. Hull of a Game

As pivotal games go – this Boothferry Park clash late in the 1992/3 season was a doozy. Wanderers were down to 10 men after Alan Stubbs was sent off but after going a goal down, Dean Windass’ own goal sparked a pitch invasion that nearly saw the game called off. After the pitch was cleared, McGinlay deflected David Burke’s shot to win the game, and sent the Whites hurtling towards promotion.

3. A Wee Push

The play-off semi-final showdown with Wolves is delicately poised. A corner comes in and there is an almighty scramble in Mike Stowell’s goal. As a melee ensues, McGinlay gives David Kelly what he later described as a “wee push” – and cemented his legacy with both sets of Wanderers fans, as hero and villain.

2. Goodbye Burnden

Who else could score the last goal at Burnden Park? McGinlay helped himself to two on an emotionally-charged afternoon at the famous old ground, the last tapped in from close range after Jimmy Phillips’ pin-point cross. “The lads sat in the dressing room at half time and we were all determined that it shouldn’t end this way,” said the Scot. “We had to win our last game at Burnden. That determination helped us step up a gear in the second half and we couldn’t have stage-managed it any better if we’d tried. This has to be the best night of my life.”

1. Spot on again

The goal that sparked the modern Wanderers era? Possibly so.

Wanderers finally sealed promotion from the old Second Division and consigned their local rivals to relegation thanks to McGinlay’s penalty, despatched past former Whites goalkeeper Simon Farnworth, no less.

With just 15 minutes to go, North End defender Simon Burton was adjudged to have handled David Lee’s cross – and once again it was Super John to keep his nerve from 12 yards.

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