SPORTING history has been rewritten today after new research revealed a Bolton Wanderers player was the first league goal scorer in world football.

With the Football League celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, research by sports writer Mark Metcalf has shed new light on the events of the opening day on September 8, 1888.

Experts had originally thought the first goalscorer was Aston Villa’s Gershom Cox, who put through his own goal after 30 minutes of his club’s 1-1 draw with Wolves.

But painstaking research by Mr Metcalf and friend Robert Boyling from the British Library uncovered an old newspaper clipping which revealed that game had kicked off at 3.30pm and not 3pm as originally thought.

The discovery means the first scorer on the day was actually Kenny Davenport for Bolton Wanderers in their 3-6 home loss to Derby County at Pikes Lane, which he followed up with a quick-fire second a minute later.

As the Football League was the world’s first league, the discovery means he was not only the first league goal scorer in English football history — but the first in the world.

Announcing the news to the media at the Reebok Stadium, the Football League’s John Nagle said: “There have been 515,412 goals scored, and there can only ever be one first goal.

“That it was scored by an Aston Villa player had been the view for the last 10 to 15 years.

“But from what they found it became clear that in fact that wasn’t the case.”

Simon Marland, Wanderers’ club secretary and official historian, said the club would look at marking the event when it next played Derby County, and would also look into the prospect of having a plaque put in place at the site of the club’s old ground in Pikes Lane.

He told The Bolton News: “We’ve lived off scoring the first goal at Wembley in 1923 for as long as I can remember, and this means now we have something to add to that — the first football league goal and the second.”

The research appears in Mr Metcalf’s new book The Origins of the Football League, and he said Bolton should be proud of the goalscoring achievement of Mr Davenport — who was also the club’s first England international.

He said: “It was the first football league goal, you can’t get bigger than that really.”

Former Wanderers winger and head of the Professional Footballers' Association Gordon Taylor said his organisation would work with the club to try and have the feat commemorated with a plaque.

He said: “I’m delighted. I’ve got really fond memories of Bolton Wanderers and it’s good to know a fellow Wanderers player scored the first goal.

“He was a local lad and a real Roy of the Rovers figure.

“The North West was at the core of the Football League and Wanderers was up there as one of the very best.

“Hopefully this isn’t the last of the good news for Wanderers and they can get promotion and be back up there where they belong.”

See what our chief football writer Marc Iles has to say about the discovery here.