A PHOTOGRAPH of the most famous goal ever at Burnden Park – scored 34 years ago today – has been found and is back in circulation.

Generations of football supporters – especially Bolton Wanderers fans – will be familiar with video footage of Frank Worthington’s celebrated strike against Ipswich Town in April, 1979 – a Division One match broadcast on Granada Television, which Ian Greaves’ Whites actually lost 3-2.

But a photograph capturing the moment the legendary striker drilled the ball past goalkeeper Paul Cooper after bamboozling the Ipswich defence with his amazing ball-juggling skills has never been available locally – until now.

The picture – snapped by Breightmet-based Harry McGuire in the formative years of a career that saw him become a successful freelance photographer whose pictures have appeared in every national newspaper – was discovered in a collection of old black and whites returned to him by a neighbour.

“I did my own printing in those days and used to give the local kids my reject photographs – ones that were over-exposed or slightly out of focus – for tidying up my garden,” he recalled.

“I gave them a picture for every 10 weeds they picked and they used to collect them and get them autographed by the players. As far as I was concerned, the ones I gave away were lost – including the shot of Frank’s goal, which I knew I’d taken but hadn’t kept a print of.

“Then recently a neighbour was having a clearout and told me she’d found this collection of old photos I had given to her son – shots of old Wanderers players like Sam Allardyce, Neil McNab, Tad Nowak, Chris Thompson and Terry Poole. And right there amongst them was this one of Frank’s goal!

“It’s not the best picture I’ve ever taken but it’s a picture of the best goal I’ve ever seen.

“Actually it’s a pretty good image, considering the equipment I had in those days and the fact I was not a sports photographer at the time.

“I was lucky because the match was played in brilliant sunshine, but I wasn’t used to taking pictures of people who were moving! I was working for an advertising agency at the time and was introduced to Bolton Wanderers by Neil Whatmore and Peter Reid, who both lived at my house for a while when they were in their early years at the club. They invited me down to Burnden Park to take pictures at presentations they attended – and it developed from there.

“That was how I came to be in the right place at the right time to snap Frank’s goal.”

Thirty-four years on, the discovery came as a pleasant surprise to Worthington, who scored 24 league goals for Wanderers that season and finished ahead of Liverpool’s Kenny Dalglish as top scorer in Division One to win the Golden Boot.

“Every time I bumped into Frank down the years, the first thing he asked was ‘Have you got a picture of that goal I scored against Ipswich?’” Harry added.

“He was as surprised as I was that it had turned up after all this time.

“Now he’s got it, he’s delighted.”

Worthington, now 64 and living near Halifax, has the fondest of memories of his Burnden Park days and vivid memories of that goal that encapsulated his incredible skill, his confidence and his capacity to improvise at the highest level.

“Getting the picture off Harry brought back happy memories,” he said. “No matter where I go in the country people still recognise me and remember that goal.

“They don’t necessarily remember I was playing for Bolton and that it was against Ipswich – it’s just that goal.

“Those days at Bolton were a fantastic time in my career and the goal was the icing on the cake.

“I’ve studied all the goals scored by the brilliant individuals – the Denis Laws and Geoff Hursts – but that goal is the best one. Not just because it was my goal but because it was the best.”

* Now Harry’s iconic image – reproduced on this page – is on sale to the public at Mathers Cameras, Market Street, Bolton.

A 12x10ins print plus a 6x4 image of Frank Worthington holding his personal copy, costs £15.

Mini canvas prints of the image are also available by logging on to Harry McGuire’s website www.iscoop.co.uk and clicking “Specials”.