BRAZIL are at Wembley tonight, but 47 years ago they were in Bolton preparing for the World Cup.
But their visit was far from straightforward as there was confusion over whether Pele and Co would train in Wanderers’ stadium or on their training ground.
And the occasion was a bitter-sweet occasion for one nine-year-old Bolton boy.
Here is how we reported the time World Cup favourites Brazil came to Bolton: July, 1966 (from the Bolton Evening News) – Brazil’s World Cup team came to Bolton last night for their first pre-competition practice – and drove straight into a “who plays where” controversy.
The World Cup favourites thought that they were to train on the Burnden Park pitch; the Wanderers’ management had already decided that the club’s Bromwich Street practice ground would be used.
There was a meeting in the Bromwich Street pavilion between Wanderers’ directors and officials and Brazilian team officials.
It ended with Wanderers’ chairman, Mr Ted Gerrard, offering the visitors full use of Burnden Park and its facilities.
The Brazilians went away and discussed the offer – then came back and said they preferred Bromwich Street.
Their only additional stipulations were that they should have use of the medical room at Burnden Park, if needed, and that Coca-Cola should be served to the team instead of tea.
After sorting out the little local difficulty, Mr Gerrard commented: “The goalposts are not yet up at Burnden Park. And if the Brazilians had wanted to train there, we would have had to mark out the pitch and mow it. And we would have had to get the baths operating.
“Here at Bromwich Street we have excellent training facilities – there are none better in the country.”
A number of members of the public saw the team at work, but proudest of the spectators was Gary Burke, a nine-year-old Bolton schoolboy, who ended up with a cut and swollen mouth after being hit by the ball.
So enthralled was he in watching the world’s master footballers going through their paces that he failed to duck a miskick by Brazilian ace Da Silva.
His mouth bleeding, Gary was taken into the dressing room by Da Silva and Dr Nilton Gosling for treatment.
But 15 minutes later his injuries were forgotten when he left the dressing room sporting a Brazilian lapel badge.