15 YEARS: Bruce Rioch made it clear with his weakened team selection at Tranmere that the qualifying round of the Anglo-Italian Cup was not particularly high on his priority list.

But that didn’t stop the Wanderers boss making some big decisions on the futures of four members of the team that escaped with a 2-1 win at Prenton Park.

Rioch, pictured, refused to let the result gloss over a performance he described as “abysmal” and announced immediately after the game that Gary Parkinson, Steve Fulton, Mark Winstanley and Scott Green had been transfer-listed with immediate effect.

“It’s about performances and standards and I’m looking for performances and standards that are acceptable to us at Bolton Wanderers,” he said.

Rioch might have been fuming, but he would later reflect on the Tranmere win contributing to Wanderers qualifying for the international stage of the competition, giving him the distinction of being the first manager in history to lead the club into Europe.

Francis Lee, the Westhoughton-born former Wanderer who was repeatedly rumoured to be preparing a takeover of the Whites, was heading a group of multi-millionaire businessmen preparing to take control of Manchester city.

Long-time City chairman, Peter Swales, was on borrowed time at Maine Road as Lee – the Bolton-based businessman and former City favourite – was determined to lick his old club into shape. “My three associates and myself are willing to put big money into the club to get the best players for the team,” he said.

Paul Ince was one of a handful of players with serious fitness doubts ahead of England’s World Cup qualifier against Poland.

On the athletics front, sports minister Iain Sproat was demanding “anytime, anywhere” testing throughout the world to beat the drug cheats.

“We could enter an era where medals and world records prove worthless,” he said in the wake of a spate of high-profile drug scandals.

On the local cricket scene, the father and son team of Mel and Tom Whittle helped Kearsley to the Bolton League title while Golborne continued their march towards the Association title.

25 YEARS: Three wins, seven goals scored and none conceded – things were looking up for John McGovern’s Wanderers as they tried to bounce back from the bitter disappointment of relegation the previous season.

They’d beaten Wimbledon and Bradford in the league and Chester in the League Cup, but McGovern had a feeling it wouldn’t last, and he was right.

He warned that, sooner or later, they were going to get a four or five-goal spanking. And they did – or at least they would have done but for the heroics of Simon Farnworth who managed to restrict Gillingham to just the two at Priestfield.

“I knew this was coming and that’s why I didn’t go overboard about the wins we had,” said the young player-manager.

“So I can’t go berserk after we’ve lost a match.”

Forty-two-year-old Bob Taylor was in for a busy winter after being named as the only wicketkeeper in the England squad for the tour to Fiji, New Zealand and Pakistan.

Paul Downton had been ordered to keep himself fit and ready to be flown out, in case Taylor was injured, while Lancashire’s Graeme Fowler was on standby to cover for any sudden injury problem.

45 YEARS: Wanderers just couldn’t get it right at the start of the 1963-64 season. Beaten 2-1 at West Brom, they changed things round for the home game against First Division champions Everton, and took a 3-1 beating.

Warwick Rimmer’s goal was scant consolation after Everton had displayed their overwhelming superiority with two goals from Alex Young and one from Derek Temple.

Over at Gigg Lane, Bury fined their unsettled inside forward Bill Griffin £5 for telling the Bolton Evening News that he wanted a transfer.

Griffin was deemed to have broken his contract by talking to the press without the club’s consent.

But it wasn’t so much the talking as the timing that landed him in hot water. According to his manager, Bob Stokoe, the Shakers’ directors were annoyed that the story was in the paper before they met to consider Griffin’s written transfer request. Griffin paid the fiver, but told the Evening News: “What I regret most is that this business of a fine might make me appear a trouble-maker.”

Farnworth athlete John Boulter was a surprise selection to run the 1500m for Britain on the forthcoming tour of eastern Europe. An accomplished international, Boulter had previously focused on the 800m and 880 yards, but his recent form in the half-mile had been disappointing.

Ron Hill, the Bolton marathon runner, was selected to contest the 5,000m and 10,000m events on the tour.