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Bolton Wanderers Football Club

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Bolton Wanderers Football Club is an English professional football club based in Horwich, in the Borough of Bolton, Greater Manchester, England. They are currently in the Premier League.

Founder members of the Football League, Bolton were a successful cup side in the 1920s, winning the FA Cup three times. The club won the cup a fourth time in 1958 thanks to a Nat Lofthouse goal. A leaner spell followed, reaching a nadir in 1987 when the club spent a season in the Fourth Division. The club regained top-flight status in 1995 after a 15 year absence; their current spell in the top division started in 2001. In 2005–06 they participated in European competition for the first time, reaching the last 32 of the UEFA Cup. Bolton qualified for the 2007–08 tournament by finishing 7th in the 2006–07 Premier League. Bolton Wanderers moved to the Reebok Stadium in 1997. Their former home was Burnden Park.


Early history

The club was founded in 1874 as Christ Church FC, but changed its name to Bolton Wanderers in 1877. Bolton were one of the 12 founder members of the Football League, which formed in 1888.[2] Having remained in the Football League since its formation, Bolton have spent more time in the top flight (Premier League/old First Division) than out of it.


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In 1894 Bolton reached the final of football's oldest competition, the FA Cup, for the first time, but lost 4–1 to Notts County at Goodison Park. A decade later they were runners-up a second time, losing 1–0 to local rivals Manchester City at Crystal Palace on April 23, 1904.[3] On April 28, 1923 Bolton won the cup at their third attempt to win their first major trophy, beating West Ham United 2–0 in the first ever Wembley final. The match, famously known as The White Horse Final was played in front of over 127,000 supporters. Bolton's centre-forward, David Jack scored the first ever goal at Wembley Stadium. They became the most successful cup side of the twenties, also winning in 1926 and 1929, beating Manchester City and Portsmouth respectively.


From 1935 to 1964, Bolton enjoyed an uninterrupted stay in the top flight – regarded by fans as a golden era, spearheaded in the 1950s by Nat Lofthouse. They would not return to the top flight until 1978, where they lasted but two seasons before a period of further decline set in. In 1953 Bolton played in one of the most famous FA Cup finals of all time - The Stanley Matthews Final of 1953. Bolton lost the game to Blackpool 4–3 after throwing away a 3–1 lead. Blackpool were victorious thanks to the skills of Matthews and the goals of Stan Mortensen.

Bolton Wanderers have not won a major trophy since 1958, when two Lofthouse goals saw them overcome Manchester United in the FA Cup final in front of a 100,000 crowd at Wembley. The closest they have come to winning a major trophy since then is finishing runners-up in the League Cup, first in 1995 and again in 2004.

At the end of the 1986–87 season, Bolton Wanderers suffered relegation to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history. But the board kept faith in manager Phil Neal and they won promotion back to the Third Division at the first attempt. The deciding goal was scored by Robbie Savage in a 1–0 win at Wrexham. Neal remained in charge until the summer of 1992 when he made way for Bruce Rioch, who a few years earlier had won two successive promotions with Middlesbrough.

In the early part of Rioch's tenure, Bolton gained a giant killing reputation in cup competitions. In 1993 Bolton beat FA Cup holders Liverpool 2–0 in a third round replay thanks to goals from John McGinlay and Andy Walker. The club also defeated higher division opposition in the form of Wolves that year before bowing out to Derby County. In 1994 Bolton beat FA Cup holders Arsenal 3–1 in a fourth round replay, and went on to reach the Quarter Finals, bowing out 1–0 at home to local rivals (and then Premier League) Oldham Athletic. Bolton also defeated top division opposition in the form of Everton and Aston Villa that year.

Recent history

Bolton reached the Premiership in 1995 under the management of Rioch, thanks to a victory over Reading in the Division One playoff final. Rioch left to take charge at Arsenal after the promotion success and was replaced by Roy McFarland, who was joined by his former assistant Colin Todd. Bolton were bottom for virtually all of the 1995–96 Premiership campaign and Bolton dismissed McFarland on New Year's Day 1996 and appointed Todd in his place. Todd was unable to save Bolton from relegation but the board kept faith in him. The Bolton board's loyalty in Todd was rewarded when they won promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt thanks to a season in which they achieved 98 league points and 100 goals in the process of securing the Division One Championship.

Bolton were relegated on goal difference at the end of the 1997–98 Premiership campaign. Bolton reached the 1999 Division One playoff final but lost to Watford. Todd resigned as manager soon after and was replaced by Sam Allardyce. Bolton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup and play-offs but lost to Aston Villa and Ipswich Town respectively. In 2000–01 Bolton were promoted back to the Premier League after beating Preston North End in the play-off final.

Bolton struggled in the following two seasons, but survived in the Premier League. They reached the League Cup final in 2004, but lost to Middlesbrough. Nevertheless, Bolton finished eighth in the league, at the time their highest finish for some time. In 2005 Bolton finished sixth in the league, thus earning qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. The following season, they reached the last 32 but were eliminated by French team Marseille. In April 2007, towards the end of 2006–07 season, manager Allardyce resigned.[4] In his final four seasons at Bolton, Allardyce had recorded consecutive top ten finishes, a record of consistency bettered only by the big four of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.

Allardyce was replaced by his assistant Sammy Lee,[5] who secured Bolton's qualification for the 2007–08 UEFA Cup. After gaining only one league win in eleven matches, Lee left Bolton in October 2007[6] and was replaced by Gary Megson.[7]


Major Honours: FA Cup Winners (4) - 1923, 1926, 1929, 1958
FA Cup Runners up - 1894, 1904, 1953
League Cup Runners up - 1995, 2004
FA Charity Shield - 1958
Second Tier: Football League First Division Champions - 1997
Football League Second Division Champions - 1909, 1978
Third Tier: Football League Third Division Champions - 1973
Football League Trophy Winners - 1989
Football League Trophy Runners up - 1986
Lancashire Cup winners - 1886, 1891, 1912, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1932, 1934, 1948, 1988, 1990,
Others: Football League War Cup Winners - 1945
Football League War Cup North Winners - 1945
FA Premier League Asia Trophy Winners - 2005
Peace Cup Runners up - 2007
Reserves: Central League Champions - 1955, 1995
Premier Reserve League North - 2007

Season ticket price cut

On February 20, 2007, Bolton Wanderers became the first club in the Premier League to announce a price reduction (10%) of their season tickets (for the forthcoming 2007/2008 campaign). Other clubs (Manchester City and Chelsea) announced price freezes, but Bolton were the first to claim an actual reduction.

Memorable games

  • 1923 FA Cup vs. West Ham United. The legendary "White Horse" final, named after the horse police used to usher the fans off the pitch to begin the game. Bolton won 2-0 in the first ever final to be played at Wembley Stadium. The club went on to win the Cup twice more in that decade, in 1926 and 1929.
  • 1953 FA Cup Final vs. Blackpool - argued as the most exciting Cup Final ever. Bolton led for the majority of the game, but Blackpool eventually came from behind to beat the Trotters 4-3. Later to be commonly known as the "Matthews Final"
  • 1958 FA Cup Final vs. Manchester United. - having suffered the Munich Tragedy which claimed many members of Matt Busby's team, United reached the final, only to lose to Bolton with two goals from Nat Lofthouse. Boltons team at the time were known as the Ł110 team, as each player was paid Ł10 for signing up to the game.
  • 1979 Division 1 vs. Manchester United - two goals from Bolton legend Frank Worthington sealed a win over arch rivals United at Old Trafford, completing the double after Bolton won at home 3-0 earlier in the season.
  • 1983 - Division 3 vs. Walsall - an 8-1 win over Walsall saw Bolton's biggest win of modern times. Striker Tony Caldwell scored 5 goals in the victory to equal the club record for number of goals scored in a game. Other goalscorers were Ray Deakin, Simon Rudge and Peter Valentine.
  • 1988 Division 4 vs. Wrexham - a 1-0 away win at Wrexham courtesy of a Robbie Savage goal sealed Bolton's promotion back to Division 3 at the first attempt. The win signalled the start of the long road back to achieving the club's past glories.
  • 1989 Sherpa Van Trophy Final vs. Torquay United - a 4-1 win over Torquay enabled Phil Brown to lift the cup at Wembley. Goalscorers that day were Julian Darby, Dean Crombie, Trevor Morgan and Jeff Chandler.
  • 1993 FA Cup 3rd round replay vs. Liverpool - this game really kicked off Bolton's resurgence under Bruce Rioch. Having drawn at home, Bolton went to Anfield to beat the holders of the FA Cup, with goals from Andy Walker and John McGinlay. The match is now commonly known to Bolton fans as "White Hot One", in reference to the headline in the local newspaper the following day.
  • 1993 Division 3 vs. Preston NE - a tense game was settled by a penalty from John McGinlay which sent Bolton back to Division 2 (now the Championship/Division 1) for the first time since their fall from grace in the early 1980s.
  • 1995 League Cup semi final (2nd Leg) vs. Swindon Town - Bolton love their cup games! Having lost the away leg, Bolton fell further behind in the second half of the Burnden leg before Jason McAteer and Mixu Paatelainen levelled the game. John McGinlay poached the winner with five minutes remaining.
  • 1995 League Cup final vs. Liverpool - heartbreak for Bolton. Wanderers lose 2-1 in their first major cup final since 1958. Two goals from Steve McManaman put Liverpool in the lead before a late Alan Thompson consolation for Bolton.
  • 1995 Division 1 Play Off Final vs. Reading - a true epic. Having gone 2-0 down in the first 15 minutes, Bolton's keeper Keith Branagan saved a penalty before half time, before the Whites levelled the game in the second half with goals from Owen Coyle and Fabian De Freitas. Mixu Paatelainen and De Freitas with a second put Bolton 4-2 ahead in extra time before Reading gained a late consolation. This game earned Bolton promotion back to the top flight for the first time since 1979.
  • 2001 Bolton beat Preston North End F.C. 3-0 at the Millennium Stadium in the Division 1 Play off final, thus gaining promotion back to the Premiership. Michael Ricketts, Gareth Farrelly and Ricardo Gardner were the goalscorers.
  • 2001 Bolton won 2-1 away to Manchester United after falling behind, thus becoming the first team since the formation of the Premiership to come from behind and win a league game at Old Trafford. Bolton's goalscorers that day were Michael Ricketts and Kevin Nolan.
  • 2004 Bolton were beaten 2-1 by Middlesbrough F.C. to become runners up in the Carling Cup for the second time in 9 years.
  • 2005 Bolton drew 1-1 with Portsmouth at Fratton Park in their penultimate game of the season to qualify for Europe for the first time. As the result also guaranteed that Portsmouth would not be relegated from the Premiership that season, both sets of fans invaded the pitch at the end of the match.
  • 2005 Bolton overcome a two leg tie again Bulgarian side Lokomotiv Plovdiv to qualify fully for the UEFA cup group stage. Winning 2-1 in both games sees them through, the goals coming from El-Hadji Diouf, Jared Borgetti, Kevin Nolan, and a Tunchev own goal.
  • 2007 Bolton drew 2-2 with Aston Villa at home in their final game of the season to finish 7th in the table and secure qualification for Europe for the second time in their history.
  • 2007 Bolton drew 2-2 with Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena in Munich in a UEFA Cup group stage game, Ricardo Gardner and Kevin Davies got the goals.
  • 2007 Bolton were the first British team to beat Red Star Belgrade in Belgrade. A Gavin McCann first half goal sealed a 1-0 win in the UEFA Cup.
  • 2007 Bolton beat Manchester United 1-0 at the Reebok Stadium through a Nicolas Anelka goal.

Colours and badge

Bolton Wanderers' home colours are white shirts with navy trim, worn with white shorts and socks. Their current away kit colours are black with turquoise trim. Bolton did not always wear the white kit they do today, in 1884 they wore white with red spots. Bolton's traditional colours are white shirts with navy blue shorts. The navy blue shorts were dispensed with in the early 2000s. The club had tried an earlier experiment with an all white kit in the 1970s.

The Bolton Wanderers club badge consists of the initials of the club in the shape of a ball, with red and blue ribbons beneath. The ribbons controversially replaced the red rose of Lancashire following the club's move to the Reebok Stadium. The club's original badge was the town crest of Bolton.

Notable former players

  • 1880s: Jim Cassidy (1889)
    • Cassidy scored 101 goals in 291 games for Bolton including five goals in the club's record 13-0 win over Sheffield United.
  • 1900s: Joe Smith (1908)
    • Played for Bolton until 1927 scoring 277 goals in 492 games.
  • 1910s: Ted Vizard (1910)
    • Vizard made 467 appearances for Bolton, playing for the last time in 1931 at the age of 41.
  • 1920s: Alec Finney (1920), David Jack (1920)
    • Finney was one of the members of the successful 1920s Wanderers side who triumphed in the famous White Horse Final in 1923.
    • Jack scored the first ever goal at Wembley in the 1923 FA Cup Final and played for Bolton for a number of years before joining Arsenal for a then world record transfer fee.
  • 1940s: Nat Lofthouse (1946)
    • 'The Lion of Vienna', Nat is Bolton's most famous player. The club's leading goal scorer with 285 goals he is now Bolton's Honorary President. He was capped 33 times by England scoring 30 goals.
  • 1950s: Ray Parry (1951), Roy Hartle (1952), Eddie Hopkinson (1956)
    • Parry was a member of the 1958 FA Cup winning side and made his first-team debut at only 15 years old.
    • Hartle was a member of the 1958 FA Cup winning side and spent 11 years at the club.
    • Hopkinson is regarded as Bolton's greatest ever keeper playing a record 578 games for the club.
  • 1960s: Francis Lee (1960), Roy Greaves (1967)
    • Bolton born Lee made his debut for the club at 16 and played for the club for 3 years before joining Manchester City, going on to win England honours and becoming a millionaire businessman.
    • Another Bolton lad, Greaves played for the club for fifteen years.
  • 1970s: Peter Reid (1974), Frank Worthington (1978)
    • An apprentice with the club, Reid spent eight years at Bolton before joining Everton, going on to win England caps and play in the 1986 World Cup.
    • A noted difficult man to contain both on and off the pitch, Worthington scored the goal that is considered the best ever in Bolton's history in the home league match against Ipswich Town in 1978.
  • 1980s: Brian Kidd (1980), Steve Thompson (1982), Julian Darby (1985)
    • A European Cup winning goal scorer with Manchester United in 1968 when just a teenager, Kidd came to Bolton late in his career, making them the third team in the Manchester area he played for.
    • Thompson was the powerhouse in the Bolton midfield during the club's spell in the lower divisions.
    • Bolton born, Darby was a loyal servant for the club before being sent to Coventry City.
  • 1990s: Alan Stubbs (1990), Andy Walker (1992), Jason McAteer (1992), John McGinlay (1992), Owen Coyle (1993), Mixu Paatelainen (1994), Guđni Bergsson (1995), Per Frandsen (1996), Eiđur Guđjohnsen (1998), Claus Jensen (1998)
    • Stubbs was a consistent performer in defence. After leaving Bolton, Stubbs was successful in Scotland with Celtic, beating testicular cancer into the bargain, before joining his boyhood club Everton.
    • Andy Walker joined Bolton Wanderers from Glasgow Celtic and was a prolific goalscorer for the club until he sustained a bad knee injury in a game against Swansea City.
    • McAteer's midfield performances were a major part of Bolton's meteoric rise during the 1990s .McAteer is currently seeing his career out with Tranmere Rovers.
    • John McGinlay a.k.a 'Super John' is still well regarded at the club, being the last goalscorer at Burnden Park. McGinlay scored a number of crucial goals in big games during his time with the club. He now resides in America with his family in Cincinnati
    • A qualified lawyer in his home country of Iceland, Bergsson was captain of the team that kept Bolton in the top division for the longest period since the 1960s. Was persuaded to put off his retirement from football twice by manager Sam Allardyce.
    • Frandsen's transfer to local rivals Blackburn Rovers was the final straw for manager Colin Todd who resigned soon after. Ironically, Frandsen did not stay at Ewood Park long and returned to Bolton. Saw out his career at another Lancashire club, Wigan Athletic.
    • Guđjohnsen now at Barcelona, moved from Bolton to Chelsea in the summer of 2000 after Bolton lost in that year's playoff semi-final. It was Bolton who gave him a fresh start after injury threatened his career and, during his time at Chelsea, he was still greeted with affection whenever he played at the Reebok which was reciprocated.
    • Now at Fulham, Jensen left Bolton at the same time as Gudjohnsen when they failed in their promotion bid in 2000.
  • 2000s: Michael Ricketts (2000), Bruno N'Gotty (2001), Youri Djorkaeff (2002), Jay-Jay Okocha (2002), Fernando Hierro, (2004), Hidetoshi Nakata, Jared Borgetti (2005), Nicolas Anelka, (2006)
    • The first Bolton player to be capped by England since Freddie Hill, Ricketts subsequently lost form, fell out with Sam Allardyce and was transferred out of the club.
    • Bruno N'Gotty was an immense presence in defence for Bolton Wanderers and helped to establish the club in the top half of the Premiership. He was given a free transfer in 2006 and joined Birmingham City.
    • Known as 'Le God' by Bolton fans, Djorkaeff was the first high profile name to sign for Bolton in the 21st century, paving the way for future big names like Okocha, Campo and Nakata. Initially signed on loan from Kaiserslautern to help in the survival battle of 2001–2002 (a move that helped him win a place in France's 2002 World Cup squad) he played for the club for a further two years.
    • A member of FIFA's Best 100 living players, manager Sam Allardyce made Okocha captain when Bergsson retired. T-Shirts stated that he was so good they named him twice.
    • Real Madrid's European Cup winning captain, Hierro was only at Bolton for one year but became a firm fan's favourite.
    • Former Japan international midfielder and captain, who spent seven years in Serie A, before signing for Bolton.
    • Mexican all-time leading goals corer spent one season in Bolton.
    • The club's record signing when he joined in August 2006, Anelka spent a season and a half at the club before, like Guđjohnsen, moving to Chelsea.

Notable managers

  • Charles Foweraker - 3 times FA Cup winning manager during the 1920s. Manager from 1919–44.
  • Bill Ridding built an FA Cup winning team in 1958 at a cost of just Ł110. Manager from 1951–68.
  • Bruce Rioch took the club into the Premiership for the first time in their history following two promotions in three years. During that time the club enjoyed a number of good cup runs in which higher placed teams, often from the Premiership, were defeated. Manager from 1992–95.
  • Colin Todd secured promotion to the Premiership in 1997 with a club record 98 point tally. Manager from 1996–99.
  • Sam Allardyce took Bolton to the Carling Cup Final in 2004 and brought European football to the club for the first time in its history when qualifying for the UEFA Cup in 2005. He was nicknamed Big Sam by the media and fans of the club. Manager from 1999-2007


Years Manager
1874 - 1885 Tom Rawthorne (As Secretary)
1885 - 1886 J.J. Bentley (As Secretary)
1886 - 1887 William Struthers (As Secretary)
1887 Fitzroy Norris (As Secretary)
1887 - 1895 J.J. Bentley (As Secretary)
1895 Harry Downs (As Secretary)
1896 - 1898 Frank Brettell (As Secretary)
1898 - 1910 John Somerville
1910 - 1915 Will Settle
1915 - 1919 Tom Mather
1919 - 1944 Charles Foweraker
1944 - 1950 Walter Rowley
1951 - 1968 Bill Ridding
1968 - 1970 Nat Lofthouse
1970 Jimmy McIlroy
1970 Jimmy Meadows
1971 Nat Lofthouse
1971 - 1974 Jimmy Armfield
1974 - 1980 Ian Greaves
1980 - 1981 Stan Anderson
1981 - 1982 George Mulhall
1982 - 1985 John McGovern
1985 Charlie Wright
1985 - 1992 Phil Neal
1992 - 1995 Bruce Rioch
1995 - 1996 Roy McFarland / Colin Todd
1996 - 1999 Colin Todd
1999 - 2007 Sam Allardyce
2007 Sammy Lee
2007 - Gary Megson

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