LONG before Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline was adopted as Wanderers’ terrace anthem of choice, there was another battle at the top of the Burnden charts.

In 1973 an official club competition was launched, backed by EMI records, to publish an official song for Burnden Park but the exercise proved to be mired with problems and never actually produced an official winner.

A poor public response did not help, nor did financial issues at the club, which were such that a £300 recording fee demanded to put the winning record into print eventually proved “beyond their means”.

Although a victor was never announced, it appears the unluckiest party was Breightmet songwriter Lance Browning who had penned the superbly-named ‘By Gum We’ll Make It’. Mr Browning looked to have won the competition until the delay prompted him to try and sell the rights to Blackburn Rovers!

A year later, a saviour appeared in the form of Paul and the Bolton Sound with ‘Here We Go Again.’ A 27-year-old TV engineer from Astley Bridge, Paul McLaughlan spent a few years honing the easy listening jangle, which could have preceded any mid-seventies sitcom. It may not hold up as well in this cynical Twitter and YouTube age but its innocence summed up the age and the version we found online had 30,000-plus views – so it must be ticking someone’s box.

Wanderers gave it a cautious backing but an eagerly-anticipated first airing at Burnden was delayed when the club realised it did not have a license to play music on a Sunday.

The first 1,000 discs flew off the shelves of Burnden’s Happy Shop following an official launch night at the Astley Bridge Conservative Club in May, 1974. Another 5,000 were ordered and also sold well. To put that into perspective, according to officialcharts.com, the average number of sales for a top 40 hit in 2017 was just 4,000.

But, alas, Paul and his Bolton Sound did not make Top of the Pops, nor have their music interpreted via the dance moves of Pan’s People.

The quest to find a Bolton anthem continued with another group of Bolton songwriters, Jimmy Smith and Howard Broadbent, who penned “Bolton’s Super Whites” in an effort to cash in on the feel-good feeling at Burnden in the Ian Greaves era.

“In the end it’s up to the fans,” said Jim. “If they like it and sing along, then we’ll be happy.

“Bolton haven’t played as well as they are at present for 15 years and they have really inspired us to write this song.”

Another pop song which evokes memories of the late seventies at Burnden was Bruce Thompson’s ‘My World is a Football’. The song was not recorded specifically with Bolton in mind but was clearly popular with whomever was in charge of the pre-match music.

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Official club anthems did not begin in the seventies, however, and way back when Nat Lofthouse and his team came back to Victoria Square with the FA Cup in 1958, they were greeted to the strains of the ‘Happy Wanderer’.

A German composition originally penned by Friedrich-Wilhelm Möller shortly after the Second World War, a version by the Obernkirchen Children’s Choir actually reached number two in the hit parade in 1954 after a BBC radio competition.

The grand-daddy of Wanderers anthems, its “valderees” and “valderah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-has,” were the chant of choice at Wembley.

A little further down the line, Lofthouse got another mention. This time in the Houghton Weavers' 'Lion of Vienna,' first pressed in 1981 - which was later recorded again to help raise funds for the great man's statue outside the stadium, and even played at his funeral.

The quest to find an ‘official’ tune was very much a product of the 1970s but Wanderers were not alone.

On seeing the success of England’s 1970 World Cup song ‘Back Home,’ and Liverpool’s ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone, Arsenal were compelled to find a club anthem by none other than footie pundit Jimmy Hill, launching their own competition.

Just like Wanderers, the Gunners were unable to find a suitable winner, the compositions received from the public seen as “too wordy” – so Hill sought permission from Arsenal boss Bertie Mee to write his own ditty.

‘Good Old Arsenal,’ sung to the tune of ‘Rule Britannia,’ was recorded for their 1971 FA Cup final win and reached number 16 in the charts.

Football fans have always been a resourceful bunch, lyrically speaking, and while Wanderers have failed to grasp a solitary song to see them through the decades, plenty of fans’ chants have endured.

Whether roaring about travels down the Manny Road, or feeding chickens Indian corn, some of the songs which used to circulate Burnden Park have made it to the new stadium.

The Bolton News: Fans at the last home game at Burnden Park.

The search for an an all-conquering anthem continues but music continued to be a major thread in the club’s fabric.

Those who visited Burnden during the latter years will remember all manner of dance classics banging around the cavernous stands.

Shoppers in Normid, the controversial superstore once built into the side of the stadium, could also push their trolleys to Europop tunes from 2Unlimited, Haddaway and Capella, emanating from next door.

When Wanderers moved to their new home, they got a (relatively) new playlist which mirrored the showbusiness we had just entered into.

James Brown’s classic ‘I Feel Good’ was used after a goal, Robert Miles' trance classic 'Children' gave everything a modern twist. We got flags, cheerleaders and pyrotechnics.

For those who fancied something a little less racy, Tony Christie’s ‘Amarillo,’ another mid-seventies singalong which got a second lease of life when Bolton’s own Peter Kay included it in his Top of the Tower tour and then released it as a charity single.

Whether you chose to include El-Hadji Diouf’s antics in the lyrics was your own personal choice but it was arguably as near as a Boltonian anthem as Wanderers have ever got, before or since.

When he wasn’t winding up Wolves fans, even club mascot Lofty the Lion had a go at the Christmas charts in 2003 with his release ‘Let’s Rock This Town’ in collaboration with Pitch Invasion.

Actually (a little) better than the premise suggests, the guitar-head-banger proved popular among the Junior Whites but was eventually beaten to the top spot by Gary Jules’ Mad World… by a couple of hundred places.

Allardyce’s era brought plenty of notable tunes, as well as the notable results.

The theme from the 633 Squadron provided the backdrop to many a pre-match handshake and hamstring stretch, while the ever-catchy Euro dance tune Campione was another crowd pleaser which has been embraced by just about every football club going.

Music goes hand in hand with success, which explains why very little in the post-Big Sam days has stuck.

Owen Coyle imported Depeche Mode’s ‘Just Can’t Get Enough,’ a tune used by Celtic – and his old club Burnley – to mixed reviews in 2010. He was loathe to make a big issue out of the song’s use but it did bring back the goal celebration music after a few years in exile, disappearing along with the Scot in 2012.

More recently it fell to local lads The Jade Assembly to revive another terrace classic, Burnden Aces.

Set to the tune of the North East football staple, Blaydon Races, it has proved important enough to survive on the pre-match playlist since its release in August 2015.

The original had been sung for at least a few decades, mentioning as it does the old Manny route into the stadium. It is fair to say the reworking met with some criticism, with some arguing it was too fast, and it has since been shunted from the all-important walk-on slot.

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Since David Wheater and Mark Beevers belted out an acapella version of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ at the end-of-season awards in 2017, it has been given pride of place at the Macron, more recently accompanied by Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You.’ Diamond’s tune came to symbolise promotion from League One and was once again sung full-pelt by fans on the pitch as survival was secured by Phil Parkinson’s side back in May.

It is simple, it is known by just about everyone over the age of 12 and yet it still doesn't quite fit. 

Traditionalists will argue that the same song has been used by sporting organisations across the globe and it not especially personal to Wanderers. It is hard to disagree.

It seems unlikely that after nearly 50 years of searching that Bolton will stumble over an anthem any time soon and getting universal approval of anything musical is a near-impossible task.

Perhaps, though, as Wanderers thumb through the record collection and turn their thoughts towards the pre-match playlist this season they can dust off a few of the old classics for old time’s sake?

Just don’t launch a flipping competition.