Date: 3rd February 2014 at 7:14pm
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Do any ‘Wanderers` fans out there want to take us down memory lane with stories from your days at ‘Burnden Park?

C. Lloyd Thompson

How did you feel when your team ‘upped-sticks` and left your old ground? Were you upset, frustrated or annoyed at your Club relocating or was it the best thing that ever happened? I know how strongly I felt when my team Bolton Wanderers left Burnden Park and moved out of town to the Reebok. Having watched The Wanderers at Burnden for almost 30 years of my life I felt devastated so much so I felt compelled to write the article below which was published in just about every fanzine and magazine at the time I wrote it. Since then dozens of clubs up and down the country have moved home and I am looking for fans who want to tell their stories in a new book that I am releasing. I am already a published author and being a massive football fan I want to write a book about football by the people who know best, THE FANS! I would really like to feature your contributions about how real fans feel when the team they love leaves its ‘spiritual home`. So, if you are interested in having your say then please email me your stories and feeling, this is your moment to have your say! By contributing you could very well be published!


I first went to Burnden as an 8 year old in 1968. The following are my memories of the famous old ground in the 3 decades since then. Memories in no particular order, some of them very vague, others seem as if they happened yesterday. There are very few dates that spring to mind to pinpoint particular incidents, but I know that if you were there then you too will remember.

The Embankment; The first place I ever stood, no Normid Superstore then and massive big steps at the back about 2 feet high, railway line at the back, big wooden scoreboard like a cricket ground. A 3rd round FA cup tie against the then mighty Newcastle United saw a sea of black and white as 17000 Geordies crammed onto the huge terrace, the result 3-3 and Malcolm McDonald scored a hat-trick. We were on ‘Match of the Day`!

I remember crowds of 4000 and crowds of 57000 like the league cup semi against Everton. We drank beer on the terraces and peed where we stood. Go to the toilets? No chance! It was impossible to move you just swayed with the crowd. If you did manage to get to the loo it was a mixture of smells from the 6 inch deep river of pee and the lashings of too strong disinfectant.
Later I moved to the best kop end ever? The Lever End. Here were the boys who sang brilliant songs and wore the football fashions of the 70`s. Doc Marten boots, Crombie coats, Skinners jeans and Ben Sherman shirts. People wore scarves then and it was cool to wear a silk Wanderers scarf tied round your wrist. These were the boys who got involved in the many riots and pitch invasions of that time against the likes of Chelsea, Millwall and Leeds.The big matches down the years come to mind. The Newcastle game mentioned earlier for one. I also remember when as a 3rd Division Club we hammered 1st Division Man City 3-0 in the League Cup 3rd round in front of 42000!!! The top of Division 2 game against Sunderland in front of a similar crowd, when big Sam Allardyce scored “that Header”, and I saw the maestro Frank Worthington score “that Goal”. Nat Lofthouse I`ve never seen him play but from the first years I went to Burnden I knew he was already a legend. There were other names, maybe not all as famous as Frankie Worthy and Nat, but no doubt remembered by the people who watched them at the time. Eddie Hopkinson, Charlie Hurley, John Byrom, Gary Jones, Paul Jones, John Ritson, Willie Morgan, Alan Gowling, Charlie Wright, Tad Novack, Gordon Taylor and Neil Whatmore. There are many more, too numerous to mention but remembered all the same because they wore the white shirt!

Burnden also carries memories of great players from opposing teams down the years. I`m sure I remember a 16 year old Trevor Francis scoring a hatful of goals against us for Birmingham City, 3 or 4 I think, and it might have been his full debut!! The late Great Bobby Moor was sent off for the only time in his career at Burnden while playing for Fulham. Yes, we knew how to wind up the opposition at Burnden. I was there on the night Bruce Rioch incited the most hostile atmosphere ever seen in a football ground as we terrorised Wolves and their fans out of the play offs and went onto gain promotion to the Premier League.

It`s not all been laughter down the years. I`ve seen grown men cry at Burnden when we lost out to Aldershot (of all people) in the first ever play offs to get dumped into the Fourth Division. I was one of the grown men crying at the end of the very last game to be played there against Charlton when that Burnden legend JOHN McGINLAY took his final bow. He could fill a book himself with his heroics and exploits for the Whites, and it all started with ‘that penalty`, 10 minutes from the end of ‘that game` that sent Preston down and won us promotion. We sang all the way down Manny Road just as years ago we used to sing under the Railway Bridges outside the Embankment, but they are gone now. We used to go into the Rose Hill Tavern for a pint, now it`s known as Churchills. The iron bridge is still there, a lasting landmark on the route to Burnden. I even remember the dodgy bogs just after the Waggon and Horses, a welcome stopping point after one pint too many. Then onto Rice and Easy for the best chips in town.

Burnden wasn`t the plushest of grounds with its wooden stands and broken guttering. The banking at Croft Lane was always overgrown with weeds, and how did that ridiculous great puddle at the corner of the Lever End and Burnden Paddock survive all those years come rain or shine?? Daft I know, but I remember little things like that, things like “The Happy Shop” as the first Club shop was known. Things like being able to buy “The Buff”, a paper that had all the days results and reports 5 minutes after the end of the game. It was printed and sold from mobile vans on Manny Road – BRILLIANT!!! Things like paying 3 quid to get in, and thinking it was a fortune. Things like going to mid week afternoon matches during the power cuts of the 70`s. Things like the Bromwich Street Training Ground and things like trying to sign Pele as our Manager!!!

Things that make up 30 years of memories of an 8 year old boy and now a 38 year old man, but all memories of the same person. All significant in their own little way because they are memories of a place that will live forever in the hearts of the people who were lucky enough to call it “Our Ground” a place that will never be forgotten, even when the bulldozers finally move in.



Please note no payments will be made for any contributions but the opportunity to feature in what I know will be the book of the century, you will live on forever – payment enough!!!



  • 1962 as little kids always waiting for the gates to open at half time so we could get in free, sitting on the barriers with my older brother holding me so I could actually see the pitch, the very first game I attended Wolves beat us 0-4 to relegate us from the 1st Division. I watched all the games and all the great players throughout the 60’s & 70,s . Johnny Byrom was the most prolific goal scorer never to represent England. Memories as a young teenager of entering the Burnden Paddock then getting someone to lift me up into the stands where the rich people sat down to watch the game, what a glorious view on offer from the stands. I became a regular on the terrace from my late teens onwards, memories of the Everton cup tie when Peter Reid suffered a career threatening double fracture of his ankle, his foot grotesquely displaced at 90 degrees to his leg, 10 minutes later the ref abandoned the game due to a snow storm, ironically 12 months later Peter moved to Everton. The huge floodlight stanchions left a lasting memory as did the walk to and from the ground along Manchester Road, generating a bond with all the other supporters. Finally in my early 20’s me and my mates would often visit the supporters club on a Saturday night attached to the front of the ground, generally rubbing shoulders with many of the first team players. Rich memories locked into days past, somehow the game was better then, fans had a much closer local identity with the team and the club, Burnden Park was the historical heart and soul of the club, lost forever and never replaced.

  • My first visit to Burnden was in the late 50s where I say Nat Lofthouse towards the end of his career. I remember the Saturday’s with my Dad trying to find a parking spot and then the walk to the ground filled with such anticipation because at that age your team is always going to win no matter the opposition. Moving forward I missed the epic league cup tie against City when we won 3-0 and Gary Jones got a hat trick. I was devastated but had a gig with the band I was playing with. As soon as I found out I announced the result from the stage and ducked as three or four pint glasses came my way. (The gig was at a long since closed club in Deansgate). I agree with Aussie Mike. It was more fun in those simpler times. Even that back and forth between the opposing fans was often funny compared to the vile stuff being sung or chanted today. Burnden Park was an awful ground in many ways but I have nothing but great memories of my time there and I’m still a white for life.

  • I note the new poll with interest. As I write this it is 50/50 whether Freedman should go. I have voted which must mean Moonpig or robmoss have too. A similar poll on LOV came up with 63% thinking me should go I believe. It will be interesting to see how we compare here.

  • I note the new poll with interest. As I write this it is 50/50 whether Freedman should go. I have voted which must mean Moonpig or robmoss have too. A similar poll on LOV came up with 63% thinking me should go I believe. It will be interesting to see how we compare here.

  • The smell of hotdogs from the vans. 50p to get into the Lever End. Standing on a red milk crate as a kid to be able to see on the Burnden Terrace. Seeing Big Sam put another opposing forward in the “moat”. Surging ten steps forward when we scored on the Burnden Terrace.The long walk down Manny Road with the echo of the chants under the railway bridge. In later youth going to the reserve games in an almost empty ground where we saw Alan Hansen play for Liverpool reserves. The snow coming down in the floodlights as we beat Man Utd 3-0 on a near frozen pitch on Dec 23rd. Beating Spurs in a cup replay in front of nearly 50,000 with a last kick goal from Roy Greaves. Browsing for cut price old programmes at the Happy Shop. Waiting for autographs on the forecourt and getting many! Just a few of the memories of Burnden Park. Best performances from opposing players? Stan Bowles for Leyton Orient somewhere in the distant past, Giorghi Hagi for Brescia in the Anglo Italian Cup, Dennis Tueart for Man City in a 2-2 draw. Best results? Beating Arsenal 4-2 on a sea of mud. Beating Euro Champs Forest 1-0. Drawing 2-2 with Liverpool on the coldest day ever with the pitch frozen in the corners. The 6-1 vs Spurs in the cup. The 5-0 win vs Wolves in our title charge. The 4-0 vs Colchester Utd that set up the possibility of promotion from Div 4. The low lights? Aldershot of course. Losing to Bury and a John McGinlay hat trick. The Wolves defeat on the last day to stop us gaining promotion.The Oldham 6th Round reverse. It was a magical place and overall a fortress where opposing teams didn’t want to play. If only the Reebok was a similarly regarded venue…………..

  • Great article on LOV Mike. Couldn’t have put it better myself. Why do the seriously deluded think that the fans are restless at the Reebok?? Could it just be 2 wins at home all year, negative tactics, lack of urgency, too little too late once we go behind. Surely not?? Why do they think that all of a sudden we will get “Home Rule” hot air hot air blah blah. We may yet win a few more at home but don’t hold your breath against ANYONE who is well organised and has a goal in them. We have 10 home games left. Lets just say we win another 2 draw 7 and lose just the 1. That is 13 points. We have the vast total of 28 on the board now so that gives 41 which when coupled with the current away patterns of L/L/L/L/L will almost certainly see us down. The pattern of the games is depressingly predictable and that is down to his set up his tactics and his refusal to change. Make no mistake we are well in a relegation fight. It galls me to see people defend DF. Wake me up when hes gone gone.

  • Nathans – do you along with Mike believe that changing the manager will mean everything is fixed? Problems go a lot deeper than that. Mike is a McCarthy advocate but given our financial situation we wouldnt even be able to afford him even if he were available, the option of the untried Jimmy Phillips? Given people are saying DF is too inexperienced but say give Jimmy a go?? Contradictory. No one is deluded, everyone knows we are in a mess and in trouble, you are calling people deluded because they believe that given time and support DF can turn it around, people do not appreciate the kind of conditions that he has to work in. If you want us to fail then turn up at the Reebok on Sat…boo them on to the pitch, sit silently through the first half, boo them off and then do the same in the second half then wander off satisfied that the team that you ‘support’ has failed again. If you want to see us succeed and move on then get down there, show the team that you are behind them and will them on to one of the most important victories in our recent history.

  • I’m not a boo boy. Just a realist.I have also seen every home game this season and some of the poorer performances away. Of course I would love a win Sat and for DF to succeed but sadly I do not think he will. Much of the problems are of his own making and mismanagement of the squad. Sure he has limited finances. Sure he has underperformers. However I cannot help but think that another man at the helm would bring at least some joy. He has passed tipping point with the fans and the players I think. Even if we do win Sat, and that is by no means a guarantee, we need a good number on the bounce and even in the most optimistic frame of mind I can muster I do not see that happening. Sorry he’s a busted flush.

  • I still feel we are more than capable of avoiding relegation with DF at the helm, or to put it another way I would be shocked if that was not the case. I equally respect and welcome the opposing views put forward by moonpig and others who defend DF, its important to hear all sides of the argument. Anyway, I generally say to much, far better to read what others wish to say.

  • I don’t believe that Mike is advocating bringing in McCarthy now as clearly it isn’t an option. He among others including myself did think he was the man for the job when DF was appointed. I’m sorry but no matter how little money there is etc. DF has failed and failed miserably. I too am at all the home games and will continue to be whatever happens because I support Bolton Wanderers and I always will. I am not one of the boo boys either as I see it as counter productive. Jimmy Phillips is not the answer either. As things stand I would say maybe Phil Brown and Sammy Lee as assistant. Get the feelgood factor back at the Reebok. Failing that are any of our old boys qualified coaches? Super John McGinley would certainly be a popular choice. Maybe a Stelios or Campo? I don’t know but something has to change and make our club feel like our club again rather than ED or PG or DF being all we talk about.

  • An old boy is definitely the way to go! I know Owen Coyle has his UEFA A licence and is looking for work. Sammy Lee likewise has all the badges and we already employ him! What could possibly go wrong? With a transfer budget of just a few billion, I bet Coyle could get us in the top 21 next season.

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