We asked Bolton supporters to think back to what first made them support the club and retell some treasured terrace memories.

The Bolton News: FA Cup finalists Bolton Wanderers jump to impress during a training session in preparation for the cup final at Wembley. They will face Manchester United. (L-R) Nat Lofthouse, Ralph Gubbins, Brian Birch, Dennis Stevens, Roy Hartle, Eddie Hopkinson, John H

Beating the Busby Babes

I HAVE many wonderful memories following my hometown team and was fortunate to be a teenage fan in 1957 when Matt Busby’s great Manchester United team came to Burnden Park.

We were blessed with beautiful fall weather that September day but were totally amazed that Wanderers were dominating what was the best team in Europe at the time.

I recall that Bobby Charlton didn’t make the team because Dennis Violet was preferred at inside-left but we were not expecting Bolton to put in such a stunning performance.

“Have they switched shirts with United?” someone behind me said.

Bolton did have one of the best teams in England at the time, with four or five internationals, plus the best goalscorer in Europe at the time in Nat Lofthouse, but United just didn’t know what had hit them. The strange thing was the best goal came from one of their least heralded players – Brian Birch. He raced down the right wing, leaving players such as Roger Byrne and Duncan Edwards bemused and bewildered before crashing a shot past Ray Wood into the net.

People talk about the best Wanderers teams but, unfortunately, they had never seen the teams of the 1950s. Imagine watching a striker who scored nearly a goal a game for his club and country!

The final score was 4-0 but it could have been six or seven, and when you consider that we played with 10 men after Denis Stevens had to leave for some time after being fouled by his cousin Duncan Edwards, it was like a dream for me and my young friends.

The reality came home in the return fixture at Old Trafford, though, when we got crushed 7-2.

David Clough

The Bolton News: Ian Greaves

Thumbing a lift

MY most treasured Wanderers memory takes me back to the evening of February 20, 1973, when I was a student at Huddersfield Polytechnic.

I’d just watched the Whites secure an easy 3-0 win against Charlton at Burnden and was trying to hitch a lift back over the Pennines. And, to my surprise, a smart looking gentleman driving a flash Rover stopped to offer me a lift.

We engaged in conversation and I told him how I had spent the evening, asking if he was interested in football. He smiled and said wryly: “You don’t recognise me, do you?”

It was in fact Ian Greaves, who at that time was Huddersfield’s manager and he’d been over to do some scouting at the Burnden match!

I certainly found out more about the qualities of Mr Greaves the following year when he became our manager.

Those late seventies years were my favourite as a Bolton fan and thanks to Mr Greaves I was back in Huddersfield in record time having thoroughly enjoyed our football chat.

What a top-class bloke he was!

Kev Johnson

The Bolton News:

Three of the very best

MY father first took me to Burnden Park in April 1952 to watch Bolton v Tottenham as a treat for my fifth birthday and we lost to a Len Duquemin goal – but I became a lifelong supporter from there on in and cried my eyes out the following year when we lost the FA Cup final to Blackpool after leading 3-1.

Three games stand out in my memory – the first an FA Cup replay against Bury in 1959.

After escaping with a draw at Gigg Lane the replay on a Wednesday night was played in a snowstorm. I went with my uncle and stood in the Paddock to avoid being squashed in the big crowd on the Railway Embankment.

Third Division Bury gave us a real scare but it was a rip-roaring game that Wanderers came through to win 4-2.

The thing that amazed me was that my eye level was straight in line with the feet of the players and I was enthralled by the footwork and skill of Dougie Holden playing on the wing.

My second memory was of Bolton playing against Spurs in 1960, a game played in the evening so that people could go to the Holcombe Hunt in the afternoon.

This was the Tottenham team that did the “double” and I remember the large crowd giving them wolf whistles as the entered the pitch because their uniforms were a fluorescent gold that gleamed in the floodlights.

Most of the Bolton fans were not too hopeful because the whole half-back line were out injured and we had to play three reserves there. If my memory serves me correctly it was Graham Stanley, Dick Oxtoby and Malcolm Edwards that came in. However, Freddie Hill had one of his brilliant games and took over the midfield despite Spurs having Danny Blanchflower and Dave Mackay trying to keep an eye on him. The winning goal brought the house down as Freddie beat Mackay on the byline with a wonderful dummy before pulling the ball back across the goal for Ray Parry to hammer it into the net.

The last one is Bolton beating Stoke in the FA Cup on a Sunday during the miners’ strike.

I was living near Wrexham at the time and I remember being shocked at the traffic as I approached Bolton.

Stoke had a good team at the time and had Peter Shilton in goal.

Peter Thompson showed his class that day but the hero was Johnny Byrom. He scored a wonderful hat-trick with one with his left foot, another with his right and finished it off with a header. The Bolton crowd went home happy that day with the realisation that this Wanderers side could mix it with the best, after having years in the doldrums.

Mike Hailwood

The Bolton News:

Wanderers Addicks

MY first game at Burnden was on Saturday, October 12, 1968, when Bolton Wanderers beat Charlton Athletic 3-0.

Plying that day was Freddie Hill, who scored at the Embankment End, Roy Greaves – my first footballing hero, and also on the scoresheet – and Gordon Taylor, who appropriately for a future union leader was on the left wing!

Playing for them was Charlie Wright, a future player for us under Jimmy Armfield and indeed a future manager at Wanderers.

The pitch was like a bowling green before winter would change its complexion. It was the biggest expanse of green that I had ever seen. They wore the traditional white shirts (with the two rings around the collar) and blue shorts. No adverts anywhere near those shirts. Since that day I have seen them in all four divisions. I was there when they lost to Aldershot to disappear into the fourth division. I have seen them win and lose at Wembley.

On that sunlit autumnal day I was hooked....

David Grundy

The Bolton News:

Motor troubles

MY first Wanderers game was on September 2, 1961 – we beat Arsenal and I still have the programme.

I had been trying to get someone to take me for ages and a friend and his dad from our street asked if I wanted to go.

I can still see the match to this day. I was mesmerised. Coming from Leigh I had often been to watch the rugby but this was the real deal. We stood on the Embankment but I would later become a Burnden Terracer!

The most eventful match I went to was in 1966, away at Ipswich. I was 19 by then and four of us had decided to drive down. In those days it took about six hours and we were just outside Stowmarket, about 10 miles away, when we broke down.

We were trying to thumb a lift when the supporters club coach stopped to pick us up. But they were running late and we got to the ground at 3.15pm. We drew two each, Wyn Davies and Francis Lee scoring.

After the match the supporters coach offered to drop us back at the car but, unbelievably, the coach then broke down in Stowmarket and we all retired to the pub to wait for a replacement.

The coach finally arrived and we got back to the car about 11pm. We still couldn’t get the car started but amazingly found an all-night garage who fixed it in no time. I think it cost £3 15 shillings but we had no money so had to promise to post it (we did, by the way).

I strolled down our street about 8am Sunday morning!

Gareth Atherton


Do you have any treasured memories of your earliest Bolton Wanderers games? Email any stories or photos to marc.iles@nqnw.co.uk and make sure you include a full name.