Date: 17th September 2009 at 11:24am
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Things were very different then. These days Sunday football is taken for granted, but the encounter between Bolton and Stoke City on January 6th 1974 was one of four FA cup ties that were the first to be played on that day of the week.

Clubs weren`t even allowed to charge for admission. A match day programme, costing the same as a ticket, had to be purchased in order to gain entrance. The biggest transfer news as far as the Wanderers were concerned was that Peter Thompson had signed from Liverpool the day before for £18,000.

The atmosphere was something else too. ‘Banter` between fans frequently involved bricks, bottles and Doc Martens – and there was plenty of it on this occasion.

If Emmanuel Adebayor had goaded the crowd as he did at last weekend`s game between Manchester City and Arsenal, he would have been the target of monkey chants, a pitch invasion, and several well aimed pies. Not that the Togo international would have been sliding on his knees in any case. By November the average playing surface was a quagmire.

The game, watched by 39,138 fans, was poised neatly before kick off. Stoke would go on to finish 5th in the top flight that year, but Bolton were on the road to recovery after being promoted as champions from the old third division the season before – an upset was entirely possible. Just after the hour it looked a certainty.

By then, the home side were 3-0 up, thanks to a hat-trick from cult hero John Byrom. The irony wouldn`t have been lost on Stoke`s scouts who`d been warned off signing the striker as he was considered overweight.

‘I can tell you I had a bit of fun with George (Eastham) and Gordon Banks in the bar afterwards,` recalled Byrom, some years after.

Two minutes later and the visitors were back in it with a John Ritchie goal and Wanderers fans were put through the wringer in the closing stages with Stoke netting a penalty five minutes before the end. Some things never change.

The match finished 3-2 and as the crowd poured out onto Manchester Road and the area behind the Burnden Stand, they could either mingle with campaigners carrying placards that warned of the evils of partaking in sport on the Sabbath, or opt for a spot of bother with the opposition. Things were very different then.


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