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Bolton Wanderers

Photographs from Les Gent's Book 'Making Headlines - A History of Bolton Wanderers Football Club as Seen Through the Pages of the Bolton Evening News'. Other photographs from our archives are also included.


The story of the origins of Bolton Wanderers is well known, having been set up in 1874 by scholars and teachers at Christ Church, Deane to participate in outdoor recreation. In 1877, however, the vicar objected to meetings being held in the schools without him being present, so the HQ was moved to the Gladstone Hotel, close to Pikes Lane, then the Britannia Hotel on Deane Road and the club re-named Bolton Wanderers because of its 'wandering from one headquarters to another'.


The people who stayed at home during the Bolton v West Ham Cup Final at Wembley in 1923 shared in what may be described as the great Pandemonium. It was impossible to disguise the fact that Bolton was keyed up to an almost unbearable pitch. The thousands who flocked to the town were in the throes of excitement mingled with anxiety to such an extent that it was some kind of relief to jostle one another along Bradshawgate and to seize every possible opportunity of to express their feelings!


On April 14, 1939, the Wanderers' captain, appealed to the 45,000-strong crowd at Burnden, asking those capable to join the forces. A couple of days later, led by Harry Goslin, the whole of the Wanderers' team signed up into the Bolton Artillary at the Drill Hall and were later involved in fighting in the Middle East, Italian campaigns and the Dunkirk evacuation. Harry Goslin was killed in action in 1943. The rest of the squad survived and many returned to professional football.


These days there is no need to explain the name of Nat Lofthouse to any football fan in the country - possibly not in the world - never mind Bolton, but although Nat signed amateur forms for the Wanderers in September 1938 at the age of 14, it was not until March 1941 that he made his first appearance for Bolton in a home match against Bury. The Wanderers won 5-1 (the previous week they had lost 4-1 to the same team!).


Goalkeeper Eddie Hopkinson and his deputy, Nat Lofthouse, were the big stars in the Wanderers' 3-2 defeat at Wolverhampton in February 1957. Before he was injured, Hopkinson prevented a goal-scoring riot by Wolves' bustling forwards, and Lofthouse kept up the good work later on, including saving a penalty from right-winger Harry Hooper.


In September 1960, the Wanderers took part in the first League match to be televised. The previous day, Wanderers' supporters were told in the paper, 'Those who have neither the inclination nor the time to go to Blackpool tomorrow will be able to see part of the game on television, for this fixture is the first of those to be shown on the screen on Saturday evening'.


In 1978, Bolton Wanderers were the champions, winning Second Division Championship. They carried off the Second Division title in spit of being held to a goalless draw by Fulham. While the game is instantly forgettable, the scenes that followed it were not. The celebrations went on long into the night as the whole of Bolton paid tribute to their heroes.


If anyone had though previous years had been roller-coasters, they hadn't allowed for the 1980s. Disaster upon disaster as the club slipped back into the Second Division, then the Third and then, horror of horrors, the Fourth. That decade also saw more managers coming and going, rows and resignations in the Boardroom, despondency for Bolton.


Burnden Park's days appeared numbered back in early 1990 when the club was linked with a possible move to a multi-million pound stadium on the Westhoughton/Hindley border, which was being planned for the Manchester Olympic bid. Within a few months, the Council revealed plans for a sports complex at Horwich. By 1997, The Reebok Stadium was Bolton Wanderers' new home.


In Sam Allardyce's first season as manager at the Reebok, his team got to the sem-finals of the Worthington Cup and the FA Cup. But the year 2000 was not a good one for the Wanderers - a case of always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Things have changed for the better with Bolton Wanderers in 2005, they finished 6th in the Premier Division and are now playing in the UEFA Cup.

Bolton Wanderers Fans FA Cup Semi Final 2011

Pictures of Bolton Wanderers fans on their way to and at Wembley for the FA Cup semi-final against Stoke in 2011.

Bolton Wanderers Fans in Europe 2005/2006 and 2008

Pictures of Bolton Wanderers fans following their team in Europe against Lokomotiv Plovdiv, Bulgaria and Marseille, France in 2005 and 2006 and Atletico Madrid in 2008.

Sam Allardyce

A selection of photographs celebrating Big Sam's time at Bolton Wanderers.

10 Years at the Reebok

In 1997, the opening of the Reebok Stadium in Horwich, Bolton, made headlines around Europe. Ten years on, Boltonians, Bolton Wanderers and their fans, still have much to celebrate.

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