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

The Bolton News:

Fabulous Fifties

MY family have followed the fortunes of Bolton Wanderers for many decades.

My grandmother’s brother attended the 1894 FA Cup Final between Notts County and Bolton Wanderers, and my grandfather used to talk about the goings-on in the town centre on Pie Saturday in 1901 when the cup final came to Bolton and the bakers overestimated the number of pies that could be sold to the supporters.

He also used to talk about Dick Pym, Teddy Vizard, David Jack and Joe Smith – great players that few of the younger supporters will be aware of.

My father watched the team from the 1930s to the 1950s. When he was little, he used to hide under his dad’s large coat as they pushed through the turnstiles without paying for him. In addition to Nat Lofthouse he spoke very highly of Ray Westwood, amongst others. I first became aware of the Wanderers during the cup run of 1958 when I was six.

My parents went to see the games against Stoke City, when they got soaked to the skin, and Wolves, when the defence withstood a continuous late bombardment to hold on to a 2-1 lead, and I still have the programmes. They couldn’t get tickets for the final so we all sat around a tiny black and white TV to watch them win the cup. That was the first time that I had watched the Wanderers.

Nat Lofthouse became my footballing hero but unfortunately I only saw him play once, in the reserves at Blackpool in September 1960 when he was recovering from a long absence due to injury.

The season after the cup win I was taken to watch the reserves a few times. The first was against Chesterfield.

Then in September 1959 I was judged to be big enough to be taken to my first proper game. It was against West Ham United and we stood on the Railway Embankment. Bolton won 5-1. I can still see veteran defender Tommy Banks drilling the ball into the net for his first-ever goal for the team. Reserve winger Neville Bannister scored twice, half of his career goals for Bolton. A few weeks later I was taken to see Wanderers play Leicester City and they won again, this time 3-1. Eight goals in my first two games – it doesn’t get better than that!

My two young grandchildren have both seen the current Wanderers crop twice (in different matches) and they haven’t seen them score a goal yet between them. No wonder they never seem all that interested in going again.

The 1950s were great years for Wanderers and they set me off on a lifetime of happiness and tears through good times and bad.

I have seen some great players wear the white shirt since then including Peter Thompson, Paul Jones, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Jay-Jay Okocha and Youri Djorkaeff amongst them. Will we ever see their likes again?

John Carter

The Bolton News:

Jimmy’s twist of fate

I WAS a late starter getting into football and supporting Bolton, well into my primary school years before I took any notice.

Wanderers were on Sky Television for the first time in their history and there was a lot of hype surrounding the game, not that I could watch any of it as we didn’t have Sky – someone let me borrow it on tape days later – so I listened to it on the radio in my bedroom.

It was Owen Coyle’s 86th minute equaliser against Arsenal in the FA Cup, a team I knew nothing about other than the fact they were bigger and better than us, that got me hooked.

I went crazy when the goal went in, jumping about in my room screaming and celebrating and did the same again once I had possession of the tape and I got to actually see my now favourite player in the world ever, miraculously sweep the ball home to make it 2-2.

I suppose it was a bit of a false start, though, because although I now called myself a Bolton fan (I even cried when Oldham later knocked us out of the cup and they are still unforgiven to this day) I had no real urge to go to a game and spent the rest of the season watching whatever matches made it onto terrestrial television and not much more.

Then came Junior Whites, the youth club set up by Wanderers. I was encouraged to go down every Friday night after tea with my cousin who was already well into the game and so we spent our Friday nights playing football on a sand-covered pitch in the bleak shadows alongside Burnden Park. The following season, 1994-1995, we started going to some matches organised by Junior Whites paying 50 pence each for our seats in the Great Lever End but even these first few fixtures didn’t quite give me the bug.

People go on about their first match and how it had this life-changing effect on them. Well, as Bristol City made it 2-0 in front of me in August there wasn’t a single hint of excitement, nor when Gerry Creaney was scoring for Portsmouth in September, or even as I watched my first Bolton Wanderers win against Notts County in November.

I took a while to go back after that, but I knew Wanderers were having a good season and we were getting a lot of news coverage after beating Norwich to reach the Coca Cola Cup semi-finals so I decided to offer up 50 pence of my pocket money again and make it to another match to see if anything had changed since my last visit.

Every obsession needs a spark, this one was mine. Wolverhampton Wanderers at home on February 4, 1995, in front of our biggest gate of the season so far, nearly 17,000.

As the away fans abused us and our mascot and as the rain came down, Wanderers had gone a couple of goals in front and I was already loving the noise and the racing of my pulse every time we came forward. However, as my cousin and I returned from the toilet at some point in the second half, running along the concourse at the front of the Great Lever End, we reached a point level with the corner of the goal just in time for ‘The Moment’.

Jimmy Phillips hit this shot from outside the box at an angle, our attention drawn to it by the hush of anticipation that suddenly descended on the seats to our right as we ran and I’m still convinced that the ball curled inwards, then outwards and back inwards again on its way to the top corner.

Smashing against the stanchion in the back of the net just as we got level to it and getting a perfect view of the whole of Burnden Terrace turning into an instant scene of mania.

Still running, I leapt up onto my cousin’s back shouting and screaming, scores of Lever Enders lunging forward off the front row to climb up the railings separating us from the pitch and both of us stood there hugging and jumping around, me in my Reebok shell-suit top and my cousin in his shiny yellow away kit from a few seasons earlier.

We added two more not long after that, a 5-1 victory against one of our closest rivals in the league to send us top in the midst of a joyous Burnden Park and with at least one absolutely smitten 12-year old who didn’t want the match to end. I’ve only ever seen that goal once since that day and that was on “Endsleigh League Extra” a few days after the event.

Twenty-odd years is a long time to go without seeing the goal that changed everything.

So that’s where it all began for me, still some way off being anything approaching a regular at home games and years before my first away but the bug had finally been planted. I spent the rest of the nineties supporting a team that became feared in the cups, known for playing good football and one that seemed to be quite popular amongst neutral supporters for the way we approached games even during a couple of relegations from the Premier League.

I wonder if that shot from Jimmy Phillips really did change course three times in a 25-yard stretch between his occasionally lethal left boot and the top corner? Maybe it’s better if I think it did?

Marc Torkington

The Bolton News:

Long-distance Wanderer

MY first Wanderers game was the last match of the 75/76 season, I was only six so memories are very vague but I remember feeling ridiculously excited when I saw the crowd and my dad bringing a box so I could hold the terrace.

We lived in Blackrod so it was natural to go to Burnden but moved to the Midlands the year after and carried on further south over the next 15 years.

Me and my dad still went to home games, and local away ones. Even as we settled in Dorset the miles totted up and I went all through school and teenage years being ridiculed amongst the plastic fans of the current successful team.

I travelled to all our big games and as I’ve got older my attendance has slipped a bit but I now travel from Dorset with my boys.

My favourite player over my time has been Per Frandsen. I never saw him give anything less than 100 per cent and in teams when we had bigger name players he was a stable and vital part of our emergence. I loved watching Fernando Hierro in the short time he was here. A truly world-class player who made everything look so easy. It’s very difficult to pick a favourite team because, despite the last few years, there’s been many highlights, but the team of 94/95 that got to Wembley twice was just so exciting, so many match winners. That home semi-final against Swindon was the best atmosphere I’ve ever felt at a game.

Stuart Heaton


Norway Trip

I WAS 10 years old back in 1956 when Bolton Wanderers visited Larvik in Norway.

They played a friendly against Larvik Turn, one of the best football teams in Norway at that time and it ended 3-3. Since that very day I have supported Bolton Wanderers.

Together with some friends we started a supporter’s club in Norway in 1995 and today we have around 130 members.

We have our annual meetings in Bolton every year, and have made plans for big event this autumn, 25 years for Bolton in Norway, but due to Corona, nobody knows!

Anyway, alll the best for Bolton, we will be back.

Ole Peder Østby


If you have a memory of your first Bolton Wanderers game – or what made you become a Whites supporter, why not email marc.iles@nqnw.co.uk and we’ll do our best to print it in a future edition