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ON THIS DAY: What was happening at Bolton Wanderers in years gone by

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
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We delved back into our archives for what was happening at Wanderers on March 16 in years gone by.

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ON THIS DAY – 1914: The legendary Joe Smith scored for England against Wales.

The inside-left, who would play for nearly two decades at Bolton and score more goals for the club than any other player aside from Nat Lofthouse, was also captain of the 1923 FA Cup winning side.

He had made his debut against Ireland the year before and won a total of five caps – although the game at Cardiff’s Ninian Park provided his only goal and his only victory.

Thankfully, he had a lot more success at club level, both as a player with Bolton and a manager at Blackpool (where he is pictured above in 1953 first left, front row).

His move away from Bolton in March 1927 provided a curious event, however, as after signing on ‘deadline day’ for Stockport County it was found that his paperwork was not submitted until the following morning, rendering him ineligible for the rest of the season.

County were docked two points and fined £125. But Smith went on to score 65 goals in 71 appearances for them anyway.

ON THIS DAY – 1935: Wanderers played against West Brom in an FA Cup semi-final at Leeds United’s Elland Road.

The first game was watched by 52,605 people and ended in a 1-1 draw, with George Walton grabbing the Bolton goal.

Unfortunately, after negotiating Northampton Town, Tottenham (over three games), Plymouth and Everton, West Brom proved Bolton’s downfall and they lost 2-0 in the replay.

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AIDAN Davison is the first to admit his international call came like a bolt from the blue.

He's even at a loss to offer precise details of his Irish ancestry.

But Bryan Hamilton will have a proud and fiercely committed new recruit on his hands when he brings his Northern Ireland squads together this month.

Nottingham Forest No 2 Alan Fettis is the current No 1 but Hamilton has offered the Bolton keeper a chance, which he is determined to take with both hands.

He has been told to expect half a game in the B international in Coleraine on March 26 when the Irish take on Norway's Olympic team. And if he shapes up, he'll be involved when the countries meet in a full international at Windsor Park the following night. "There are two of us, myself and Trevor Wood from Walsall, and we're going to get a half each," Davison explains. "Bryan Hamilton says he'll assess us on the night to decide who stays on for the Belfast game.

"So it's up to me. We'll just have to wait and see."

Davison's appearance on the international list is a reward for patience, perseverance and performance but outsiders, who didn't know better, might question Hamilton's selection of a player whose first team appearances have been limited to just four in two seasons.

But the Durham born six-footer insists: "I'm not ashamed to be No 2 at Bolton! I'm enough of a realist to know that Keith Branagan is playing the best football of his career.

"We were together at Millwall and we've worked together at Bolton for the last three years. I've seen him improve and I feel I've improved too. The situation's quite simple; he's got the shirt and unless he's injured or suspended - and I don't wish that on him - then I stay as No 2. There's only one goalkeeper and, if you're not the first choice you don't play, it's as black and white as that.

"I suppose it's strange being picked for an international when I'm not playing first team football but I take it as a compliment. Bryan Hamilton must have looked at me in the reserves and liked what he's seen." Hamilton has seen the Bolton man and his view is that the experience of being with a Premiership club - even as a regular understudy - stands any player in good stead.

And for his part Davison is convinced his decision to stay at Burnden has turned out to be a positive career move, despite his personal frustrations being compounded by Colin Todd's recent policy of having three outfield players on the subs bench.

He admits: "It comes to the stage when you ask yourself whether it's better to stay as No 2 with a Premier League club or drop down a division, or maybe two?

"I signed a new contract last summer and decided to see what the season would bring. It's been tough but I see this as something very positive."

It was in those contract talks that the Durham-born keeper first hinted at his Irish ancestry to Todd and Roy McFarland. Todd tipped off Hamilton and the Irish FA's investigators did the rest.

Davison explains: "I was brought up by my grandparents and was led to believe I have Irish ancestry on my mother's side. But I don't know the full details.

"I mentioned it to the manager and then more or less forgot about it until I got the call, which was a nice surprise.

"Obviously Bryan Hamilton has checked it out. Now I just need to get the Irish accent going."

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ASTON Villa left-back Bryan Small will join Wanderers battle for Premiership survival next week after rejecting an offer to join Nottingham Forest as understudy to Stuart Pearce.

The Birmingham-born defender, generously made available on a free transfer by Villa boss Brian Little, has agreed personal terms with Colin Todd and will travel to Burnden on Monday to complete the formalities.

Small, aged 24 and a product of the FA School of Excellence at Lilleshall, has spent six years at Villa and has made 39 starts.

A pacy full-back, he was employed in key roles by former Villa boss Ron Atkinson but has not figured in the first team for 13 months, his last appearance being in a 7-1 hammering of Wimbledon in February last year.

He rejected £150,000 moves to Wycombe Wanderers and Bristol Rovers earlier in the season, reluctant to drop down the divisions, but was the subject of intense interest in the Midlands when Little indicated he was prepared to release him on a 'free'. Small confirmed today: "I spoke to Forest manager Frank Clark but he was really looking for cover for Stuart Pearce. That could have meant two or three more years of reserve team football and I would have been no better off than at Villa.

"I know I'm not guaranteed first team football at Bolton but I feel there's more of a chance."

Acknowledging the task Wanderers are facing as they bid to beat the drop, Small said: "It's going to be difficult for them to stay in the Premiership but they will be among the favourites to come straight back up again, if they go down.

"I want Premier League football but, if Bolton are relegated, it won't be long before they come back.

"I feel I have a lot to offer. Colin Todd has a good reputation and I just want to get on with my football."

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FROM THE BOLTON NEWS – March 16, 2006

KEVIN Davies accused referee Rob Styles of bottling the big decisions that cost Wanderers a place in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.

The Whites hit-man claimed the Hampshire ref got it wrong when he turned down two penalty appeals that could have cancelled out Marlon Harewood's tie-breaker, five minutes into extra-time of a pulsating fifth round replay which ended in a 2-1 defeat at Upton Park.

Both incidents came in the final minute of the first extra period, when Hammers striker, Dean Ashton, appeared to handle a Davies shot on the line and, seconds later, when Christian Dailly barged Kevin Nolan to the ground, making no attempt to play the ball.

"There was definitely an arm and, by the looks of it, it was Dean Ashton's," Davies said. "He looked at me as if to say he'd handled it.

"But the referee didn't have the bottle to give it.

"There was also a couple of shoves, one on Nobby and one on me, but he didn't look like he was going to give us anything."

Sam Allardyce backed his disconsolate striker, convinced the referee was wrong on both counts. He also complained that Harewood was offside in the build up to the defensive calamity when Nicky Hunt's attempted clearance was deflected into his own net off his unsuspecting keeper, Jussi Jaaskelainen, to gift West Ham a ninth minute lead.

"We conceded the first goal in unfortunate circumstances and it was poor defending, but Marlon Harewood was offside when the ball was played down the line to him. That was plain for everybody to see," the manager said.

"There was also a penalty, possibly two, but it's like Sir Alex Ferguson has said before about Rob Styles and penalties: they just don't happen. And these things can't even themselves out in the Cup, because you're knocked out, and that's extremely disappointing and difficult to take."

Yet, while they cursed the referee, Wanderers were also kicking themselves for missing out on a sixth round showdown with Manchester City at Eastlands on Monday night. For they had enough of the play and more than enough opportunities to have won the tie, without the need for the extra half-hour.

Yet Hammers keeper, Shaka Hislop, hardly had a shot to save after being embarrassingly deceived by the swerve of the Davies's 31st minute shot that put the impressive Wanderers deservedly back on terms.

Gary Speed, Stelios, Ricardo Gardner, Nolan and Davies all had efforts that were either blocked or off-target and when Henrik Pedersen joined the fray, he had enough half chances to have finished the night with a hat-trick.

But, unlike the goal fest that had the Hammers reeling and rocking at the Reebok on Saturday, they stuttered and eventually stumbled - out of scoring luck, out of the Cup and now with the Premiership as their only means of securing the UEFA Cup place they set for themselves as the minimum requirement this season.

"It looked like only one team was going to win it in the end," Davies said. "But we got done by a sucker punch on the break.

"I still felt we had enough chances to bury them but we just weren't clinical enough. I never felt they were going to win the game. We were pushing, we were stronger but we got a kick in the teeth."

How ironic that it was Harewood who dealt the fatal blow to give the Hammers their first victory in this season's five-match series against Wanderers.

Booed off by his own fans for missing a barrow load of chances when the Whites won 2-1 at Upton Park in the Premiership last August, the feisty young striker was the toast of the East End, and deservedly so for the way he beat Tal Ben Haim at the near post to sweep home Yossi Benayoun's right wing cross.

"The way he got round Tal and squeezed it in from there, you couldn't imagine it happening, but it did," Allardyce said in sporting admiration of the match winner.

"It was always going to be difficult to come from behind a second time. The players are dejected, because they know this was a great opportunity to get into the quarter-finals and play Manchester City, who they have beaten twice already this season.

"Sadly we're out, but we should have had the game won in the first 90.

"When the chances came, we failed to show the same quality we showed at the Reebok on Saturday and we've paid a high price."

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FROM THE BOLTON NEWS – March 16, 2009

IT didn’t get any easier for Gary Megson in the Wanderers hotseat as his side were beaten 3-1 by Fulham… Mind, the outspoken Whites boss didn’t make it that easy for himself!

Bolton were all-but safe for another season but were frustrating their own supporters with their inconsistency.

“We are not yet mathematically guaranteed Premiership survival and we are at the stage of the season where every player who walks across that white line on to the field needs to fight and put in the performances they are expected to do,” wrote our guest fan writer Luke Webster.

“Individually, there are some players who are highly talented. Three examples are Gary Cahill, Matty Taylor and Jussi Jaaskelainen, but there are also some players who think they are just doing us a favour by turning up and letting down the rest who want to fight for a cause.”

Strong words, indeed. But nothing in comparison to Megson’s reaction to the boos his side had experienced in the second half at the Reebok.

“You listen to the reaction of people around here and you would think you had taken over Real Madrid, and there had never been a poor performance,” he said.

“That is not the case.

“We have been beaten 3-1 and there’s been a reaction to individual players within the crowd. Some of the players have reacted to it as well, we’ll have to sort it out.

“We’ll get battered by our own supporters and in the press, which is understandable, but you can’t expect anything different unless you are winning games and playing well. And we have done neither.”

Wanderers remained 11th in the Premier League table.

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