30 YEARS AGO: AFTER weeks of anxiety, Bolton Wanderers were starting to look a safe bet for Division Two survival after a 3-2 win at Cambridge United.

Neil Whatmore’s late winner – his 100th league goal for Wanderers –- ended Cambridge’s resistance at the Abbey Stadium, where the home side twice came from behind, and put Stan Anderson’s side five points clear of the drop zone. With five games to play, they were starting to breathe a lot easier.

It was anything but a comfortable ride for Wanderers, who had Peter Nicholson, Dusan Nikolic and Alan Gowling booked while Cambridge had skipper Steve Fallon sent off 10 minutes from time for kicking John Thomas right under the referee’s nose.

Wanderers almost ended up with 10 men themselves when Peter Reid, who had already been booked for dissent, got away with a blatant bit of shirt-tugging on Lyndsay Smith, who was one of three Cambridge players booked.

Wanderers worked hard for the points. They twice led with goals from Reid and Nikolic, and, although manager Anderson admitted he would have settled for 2-2 at the end, Whatmore’s winner was well deserved.

Brian Kidd, level with Whatmore as the club’s joint leading scorer, was the latest big name player to be lured by the razamataz of “soccer” American style.

Kidd, the former Manchester United, Arsenal, Manchester City and Everton striker, was in talks with representatives of Atlanta Chiefs who wanted to take him to the States at the end of the season.

Anderson approved the switch after Kidd assured Wanderers he would be back at Burnden Park the following season.

“Bolton is obviously my priority,” Kidd said. “So if there are any legal difficulties affecting my career with Bolton, I’ll forget the whole thing.”

Bolton’s newest sports star, Tony Knowles, was being tipped to shine as the world snooker championships got under way at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre.

Knowles, who was just 22, booked himself a place at the finals by beating Canada’s Jim Wych 9-3 in the final qualifying round. He was drawn against fellow Englishman Graham Miles in the first round and was scheduled to play world champion Cliff Thorburn if he got through.

Another local player, three-time world champion John Spencer, was also competing at Sheffield.

Horwich’s popular professional Mudassar Nazar offered local cricket enthusiasts a treat when he revealed he had received assurances that West Indies pace trio Andy Roberts, Michael Holding and Collis King would play in his testimonial and that, right out of the blue, his fellow Pakistan international Imran Khan had phoned him to say he wanted to take part in the May Day match between a Horwich XI and an All Stars team led by Rohan Kanhai.

30 YEARS AGO: WORLD Cup fever cranked up a notch when England manager Alf Ramsey named his preliminary list of 40 players who would carry the hopes of the host nation in the summer’s finals.

Peter Osgood, the 19-year-old centre forward who was making a big name for himself in his first season at Chelsea, was one of the surprise inclusions.

Martin Peters, the in-form West Ham wing-half, was another unexpected choice.

But there were many familiar figures in Ramsey’s list, with the north well represented.

Six of the seven full backs were from the region and established stars like the Charlton brothers – Bobby and Jack – Alan Ball, John Connelly and Nobby Stiles were all predictable selections.

The preliminary squad did not have to be named until the end of May but was announced early in order to give clubs a chance to plan ahead. The final 22, which was not allowed to be changed, had to be notified to FIFA by July 3.

On the domestic front, Derek Temple and Fred Pickering got the goals that gave First Division Everton a 2-0 victory over Second Division Manchester City in a second replay at Molineux to finally book the Toffees’ an FA Cup semi-final date with Manchester United.

The Everton-United duel would take place at Burnden Park and Wanderers most loyal fans were rewarded by being included on the priority list for match tickets.

The much-maligned British heavyweight Jack Bodell was on the verge of ramming the words of his critics down their throats by landing a world title shot.

Bodell was preparing to take on Thad Spencer, sixth in the world rankings, at Manchester and plans were in place for the winner to challenge Ernie Terrell, the WBA champion.

West Ham’s chances of retaining the European Cup Winners Cup suffered a serious setback when they lost 3-1 at home to West German side Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their semi-final. Celtic and Liverpool were paired in the other semi-final.

20 YEARS AGO: TONY Philliskirk scored his 24th goal of the season in Wanderers’ 3-1 victory over Birmingham City and predicted they were just four wins away from winning automatic promotion back to the Second Division.

Third in the table with a four-point lead over fourth-placed Tranmere Rovers and with just six games to play, Phil Neal’s men were in pole position to take one of the top-three places.

“We still have six hard games to go and I don’t want to count our chickens but if we can win four of them, that could be enough,” said a confident Philliskirk.

Even the usually reserved Neal said: “The race is hotting up – bubbling nicely. The best thing for football is the three points for a win –- things can change so quickly.”

Philliskirk, cheered on by his wife Lesley who was due to give birth to their first child at any time, gave Wanderers the lead on 33 minutes, set up Julian Darby to head the second then was grateful to his new strike partner Tony Cunningham – signed for £70,000 from local promotion rivals Bury – for saving his blushes.

Philliskirk missed a sitter after Tony Gayle had pulled one back for Lou Macari’s Blues, and ,with the visitors forcing no fewer than eight corners in pursuit of an equaliser, was mightily relieved when Cunningham scored his first goal in Bolton colours to make the game safe.

Cunningham’s old Bury team-mates lost ground when they could only manage a 1-1 draw at Preston.

Battle-weary Wigan – stretched by a sequence of 10 games in 35 days – beat Castleford 24-4 to register their 15th consecutive win to set up a potenial title-decider against Widnes.

Nick Faldo delivered an astonishing attack on his fellow players three days before embarking on the defence of his US Masters title.

The Englishman, hoping to make history by winning the Masters for a third year running, called into question the technical ability of rivals Paul Azinger, and Greg Norman; Payne Stewart’s colourful outfits; and the attitude of Curtis Strange.

Former world heavyweight champion Larry Holmes took just 123 seconds to beat Tim Anderson in a comeback fight at the age of 41.