SOME 41 years later, Frank Worthington’s most famous goal for Wanderers is still an exercise in sheer audacity.

Back to goal and moving away from the target, the Bolton striker nudges the ball with his head then juggles the ball three times with his left foot to tease the Ipswich defenders into thinking they can win back possession.

Then, in a flash, Worthington lifts the ball over his head, his long locks spin and there is a sight of goal. For a split-second, men in blue are still looking the other way, but keeper Paul Cooper knows what is coming and has already taken a couple of steps from goal. He need not have bothered, before the ball touches the Burnden turf, Super Frank has smashed it past him into the bottom corner.

Worthington runs, two arms aloft in the long-sleeved white shirt to a sea of adulation, a moment that would be recreated thousands of times in Bolton schoolyards for years to come.

The best goal ever scored by a Bolton player? Many would say so.

There have been more important goals – Nat Lofthouse against United in 1958, Aaron Wilbraham against Forest in 2018, Robbie Savage against Wrexham in 1988, even Frank’s decider at Blackburn to earn promotion at Ewood Park in 1978. Perhaps it’s something about years ending in eight?

But for sheer inventiveness, it would take a lot to knock Worthington’s goal off its perch.

One of the frustrating factors in this debate is the lack of evidence.

Not a single picture exists of Worthington’s goal in the Bolton Evening News archive, although local photographer Harry Maguire does own – as part of a magnificent collection which is well worth a look on his website – the best shot taken on the day.

It is a similar story for Jay-Jay Okocha’s swerving free-kick against Aston Villa – which caught everyone out - but at least the magic of YouTube affords us the luxury of watching over and over again.

Other goals were captured by the words of a reporter but, sadly, scored in a time when cameras were not present at every game.

Some legendary strikes exist purely in anecdote. Worthington used to boast that his goal against Ipswich wasn’t even the best one he scored for Bolton – that honour presumably taken by another goal in the same season against QPR.

So weighing up all the available proof - video clips, articles, opinions and adding a sprinkling of journalistic licence, we have compiled a list of goals that we think could rival Worthington’s goal for the crown.

Do you agree? Email with the goals we might have missed.


Adam Le Fondre v Fulham

February 2018

It has been a fair while since Wanderers have produced a goal which really got fans talking – but the pick of recent years has to be Alfie’s spanking volley to earn a 1-1 draw against Fulham.

Ben Alnwick’s long punt was flicked on well by Antonee Robinson and – as they say in the trade – fell nicely for the Bolton striker, who hadn’t scored for six months. One belting shot later and he was off and running again.

Sasa Curcic v Chelsea

November 1995

Sasa was pretty good in a Bolton shirt, and never happier than when he was going it alone. Leaving Craig Burley in his wake and Eddie Newton on his behind, this give and go with Alan Thompson looked like it had been fashioned on FIFA. With Chelsea defenders sliding left, right and centre, Curcic had the calmest head in Stamford Bridge.

John Ritson v Mansfield

March 1978

“Ritson’s Rocket” proclaimed the Bolton Evening News the day after Wanderers had beaten Mansfield Town 1-0 at Field Mill to inch just a little bit closer to promotion in Division Two.

What is it about full-backs that makes a rip-snorting shot from distance so satisfying? Ritson had a few in his day but none so satisfying as this one later in his Bolton career.


Jimmy Phillips v Wolves

February 1995

"Jimmy Phillips, can he hit one? He can! What a magic, quality, ding, dong do!"

Dave Higson hit the nail on the head. Ol’ Jimimnho could certainly ping one when he had the chance and this was a shot right out of the top drawer.

It is also helped by the fact that Bolton beat Wolves 5-1. One of the highlights of the season.

Sam Allardyce v Sunderland

December 1975

It’s an image that screams 1970s Wanderers. Big Sam Allardyce soars high above Joe Bolton and Jack Ashurst to meet Peter Thompson’s corner, heading the ball past Jim Montgomery with the sort of power most people couldn’t generate with their right peg.

More than 40,000 people watched that header hit the back of the net at Burnden Park, levelling the game at 1-1. John Byrom did the rest, pouncing to head home Peter Reid’s left-wing cross to seal a famous win.

Nicolas Anelka v Arsenal

November 2006

“Anelka, still looking for his first Bolton goal” - Even as Jonathan Pearce said the words on Match of the Day you knew what was coming next.

Patrolling the edge of the box like a shark searching for prey, Anelka was forced to run rather wide by Kevin Nolan’s cross-field pass. He had nobody for company – but that was just the way he liked it.

Tracking past Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue he walloped a dipping shot over Jens Lehmann in a 3-1 win against his former employers. Them were the days.

Eidur Gudjohnsen v Wimbledon

December 1999

A brilliant solo effort that when you watch it back now looks as if someone has sat on the Sky Go control and turned Eidur to fast forward x2.

This was the fresh-faced Icelander at his very best, picking a route through a wall of red shirts and sliding a shot past the keeper to help Wanderers on their way to the semi-final of the Worthington Cup.

Mixu Paatelainen v Swindon Town

March 1995

With the Burnden Park surface again resembling a council pitch and putt, it’s a wonder there were so many great goals in the mid-nineties at Wanderers.

This one had it all – precision, power, context and a screaming commentary from Dave Higson that every-so-slightly hinted at a degree of bias towards Bolton.

Jimmy Phillips plays the long ball, Paatelainen and Richard Sneekes go for it – but as one Dutchman hit the deck, the Finn emerged to take a touch then leather a shot past Nicky Hammond that had hit the back of the net long before he hit the ground.

Dean Crombie v Torquay United

May 1989

The lustrous sunshine, the massive Wembley pitch, the hoards of Bolton fans already in party mood with their team 2-1 up. Enter Dean Crombie.

He started the move by breaking up a Torquay corner and via a quick interchange between John Thomas and Jeff Chandler he continued his run and was through on goal. Crombie, who hadn’t scored for Bolton to this point, then lifted the ball over the keeper with the touch of a feather. Exquisite.

Jay-Jay Okocha v Aston Villa

January 2004

Wanderers were 4-2 up against Villa and already dreaming of the League Cup final – then Jay-Jay stepped up with a piece of free-kick wizardry that should be outlawed.

Conventional wisdom and physics dictated that he hit the ball right footed around the wall, something he had already achieved once in the game with the help of a nick off Jlloyd Samuel.

Jay-Jay never did anything ordinary, though, and driving the shot with the outside of his right foot he caught Thomas Sorensen entirely by surprise to conjure perhaps the greatest set piece the new stadium has ever seen.

Jay-Jay Okocha v West Ham

April 2003

A vital goal, in the scheme of things, but so good for so many reasons.

Ivan Campo’s block fell to Jay-Jay in his own half, he turned to run towards goal and had Joe Cole closing in – but as the West Ham youngster tried to challenge, the Nigerian held his ground to leave his would-be tackler in his wake. What next? Why a couple more touches and then a rasping drive into the top corner. Advantage Bolton in the relegation battle.

Nathan Blake v West Brom

March 1997

There was nothing good to say about a televised Sunday lunchtime snooze-fest against the Baggies, watched by a poor crowd of 13,258, until Nathan Blake woke everyone up with a thunder-blast.

Picking the ball up 40 yards out and maintaining control wasn’t easy on a Burnden Park pitch that had clearly been cut-up – but the left-footed shot from was pure class.

Mark Winstanley v Wrexham

February 1989

Defender Mark Winstanley played 285 games for Bolton over nearly a decade and scored six goals – two of which came in the same game, the Northern Area Quarter Final of the Sherpa Van Trophy.

The one everyone still talks about is a 40-yarder struck like a Scud missile to force the game into extra time. Wanderers were trailing to Joey Jones’s 63rd minute effort before Winstanley hit one that stayed hit. He and Robbie Savage – who always liked a goal against Wrexham – won the game to keep Wanderers on their way to Wembley.

“I’ve seen the goal back and told the story a few times,” Winstanley said. “The distance keeps getting further and further away but it was better because it went past Mike Salmon, who had been with us for a while.”

Mark Davies v Blackpool

November 2010

A work of art, really, even though the finish was a relative tap-in compared to others on this list.

Wanderers were 2-1 down and being urged forward in the final minute of the game. Rodrigo tried a trick, nearly lost the ball, triggering a groan of frustration from the crowd.

Suddenly things shifted up a gear. Rodrigo to Mark Davies, to Kevin Davies, to Johan Elmander, to Ivan Klasnic, and then – completing the delightful pattern – ‘Sparky’ arrived on the end of the move to pass the ball into the net. Simple but absolutely gorgeous to watch.

Kevin Nolan v Blackburn Rovers

January 2008

The technique on this volley is out of this world. After Kalilou Fadiga’s free kick is cleared by the Blackburn defence, Joey O’Brien loops a high cross back into the box, watched all the way by the Wanderers midfielder. His body position and connection are absolutely spot on and the ball flies past Brad Friedel.

But the fact that Jason Roberts popped up with an injury time winner for Rovers always soured the memory somewhat for former club captain, Nolan.

“The goal I scored against them at the Reebok was probably one of the best goals I’ve ever scored but the result just didn’t go our way,” he said. “It was a nice goal to score but as I said at the end of that game, it meant nothing to me.”

Johan Elmander v Wolves

November 2010

We may never have seen these four seconds of Swedish artistry had Kevin Foley not been so keen to avoid conceding a throw in.

The Wolves man needlessly conceded possession to Matty Taylor and then, via Kevin Davies and Stu Holden, Elmander’s big moment arrived.

With the nimble touch of a ballerina, the club record signing flicked the ball between his feet, pirouetted to face goal and then stroked a nonchalant finish past the keeper with Wolves’ four nearby defenders reduced to starting at each other in disbelief.

The strike has topped several ‘Best Of’ lists in the Premier League era and for pure liquid skill, it’s hard to argue.