BERT Tyldesley followed the fortunes of Bolton​ Wanderers through eight decades and kept a diary of his time in the terraces. With the kind permission of his family, we bring you his reflections on that journal, entitled: 75 Years a Wandering.

The Bolton News:

THERE are some games you’ll never forget and not necessarily for what you saw, but for what you didn’t see.

Way back in the early 1950s when everybody was in employment and we were advertising on the highways and byways of Jamaica and India imploring residents to come and try their luck in England, most of us worked Saturday mornings. It was considered part of the working week.

I worked at a transport depot in Trafford Park, not that far from the home of Manchester United.

This particular Saturday on January 23, 1954, I did my stint from 9am to 12.30pm and strolled across to the ground via the Trafford Park Hotel for a pie and to stop to speak with a friend of mine from the village, Reg Timperley, who had recently left us to join the Aerowata ‘pop’ depot just across Warwick Road.

So engrossed must I have been in the romance of the mineral water trade that it was 10 minutes to kick-off by the time I made my way to the snaking queue trying to get through the turnstiles.

As I waited what seemed an age, the ebb and flow of the game was transmitted over the wall by way of oohs, aahs, groans and cheers. Indeed, it became patently obvious after two sets of cheers of an increased volume and particular timbre that Wanderers were already being laced and I was being asked to pay two bob to witness the slaughter of the innocent.

As I emerged on to the terrace some 15 minutes into the game the picture was not quite what I imagined. Wanderers were attacking with great panache, cheered on by a black-and-white coloured crowd buoyed up, it seemed, by the prospect of victory.

And when Ray Parry slotted the ball home with his trusty left foot to the accompaniment of “easy, easy” from the identifiable Bolton fans, it dawned on me they might not be trailing by two but now leading by as many as three! This I confirmed by diplomatically approaching a Bolton fan just before half time when Nat Lofthouse smashed in a fourth, by which time I was able to join in the anticipation of a whitewash.

Half time that day among 48,000 present that day was of pure unadulterated happiness. The interchange between the mixed-up support of Bolton and United on the Stretford End was almost as good as the game. And when the players returned, there were joyous cries at first tentative but then increasing in volume of: “Declare! Declare!”

The second half was a more even affair. Tommy Taylor scored for the Reds and I think Ray Parry got a second for Bolton, meaning of five goals I had seen three. Not bad, and seeing United beaten 5-1 on their own midden was certainly a day to remember.

Trooping out of the ground I heard one Bolton supporter decked out in his team’s colours speak to a United fan, similarly bedecked: “Tha doesn’t need’t think they play like that every week, they don’t…”

Tommy Banks replaced his brother Ralph in the 1953/54 season, although he had been on Wanderers’ books since 1947, making only 12 appearances in the intervening years. Thereafter he would play another 243 games, winning a cup winners’ medal, six England caps and Football League recognition.

He was a great character, fair but tough-tackling, famous for the remark: “Tha’d better not try to get past me unless tha’ wants gravel rash!” He played Stanley Matthews better than anyone I can recall.

Travelling forward a few years to Monday, March 25, 1957, it was little wonder that 61,100 turned up at Old Trafford as it was the first time that the lights were turned on. Let us be under no misapprehension, it was some occasion, and the Wanderers were to be sacrificial lambs at United’s Roman Holiday.

They had been knocked out in the third round of the cup that season and had only moderate success in the league, whereas United were in the final of the FA Cup and semi-final of the European Cup.

When United emerged for the very first time in front of their own supporters under floodlights, it seemed every folk bar myself gasped as the silky red shirts translucently glistening.

And when the Wanderers came out, the rotters, the completely stole the show in their all-white satin outfit which under the blanketing light made them look like silver ghosts.

United were chasing ghosts that night and a goal from Ray Parry and an own goal from the bewildered Bill Foulkes scarcely represented Bolton’s superiority.

Not to feel sorry for United. After defeat they won six and drew two of their remaining games to finish the season as champions. They lost in the FA Cup final to Aston Villa and in the European Cup semi-final to Madrid. Any normal club would not have been displeased.

Yet another meeting with Manchester United was on the immediate horizon in a season of FA Cup football that would be spoken about in Bolton for many, many years to come.