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ON THIS DAY: Celtic chase McGinlay, Wanderers miss out on Lee and FA Cup defeat

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
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FROM The Bolton News – March 31 – 1994

BRUCE Rioch blocked Celtic’s attempts to sign top-scorer John McGinlay.

The Burnden boss told Lou Macari that the 25-goal striker was not for sale, scuppering his chances of having the First Division’s top marksman installed at Parkhead before the transfer deadline.

Macari had made a personal check on McGinlay a few days earlier and was lining up a bid apparently worth £800,000 but Rioch’s short, sharp rebuttal meant the two clubs never got as far as discussing a fee.

The word in Glasgow was that Celtic might turn their attention to Owen Coyle, McGinlay’s regular partner up front for Bolton, but Wanderers said they had heard nothing on that score.

The McGinlay approach came after Celtic chief executive Fergus McCann had revealed the findings of a full-scale probe into the finances of the club and gained control from his backers a few weeks earlier.

A lifelong Celtic fan, McGinlay had previously admitted that Celtic were the only club he would consider leaving Bolton to join, but after signing a three-and-a-half year deal at Burnden at the start of March his future looked secured.

FROM The Bolton News – March 31, 1990

WANDERERS had completed the signing of Bury captain Tony Cunningham but a few days later it emerged they had also attempted to prise star winger David Lee away from Gigg Lane.

Just hours after the paperwork was done on a £70,000 deal to take key striker, Cunningham, away from their promotion rivals, Phil Neal made inroads into signing Lee for around £150,000.

Unfortunately he failed – and it would not be for a few years until the Whitefield-born wide man would arrive at Burnden Park to provide a spark for Bruce Rioch’s side when they desperately needed one.

But for Neal, who would go so close to getting Bolton up into the second tier, you wonder what might have happened had he secured some of the other targets he had that day.

Stoke striker Wayne Biggins – who would also later emerge as a target for Rioch at the same time he tried to land McGinlay – and Swansea duo Terry Connor and Jimmy Gilligan were also on the manager’s wanted list.

On Lee, Neal said: “We tried our butt off to get him. I know the supporters have called for us to do something extra with promotion in mind – but don’t they think I want it just as much as they do?

“I have stressed to every player they still have a part to play in the Third Division, and hopefully next season in the second. They are quite capable of holding their own if we get there, but we have to get there first.”

On this day – March 31, 1973

WANDERERS slipped to a 1-0 defeat against Rotherham at Millmoor but would not lose another game for the rest of the season as they romped to the Third Division title.

Jimmy Armfield’s men had an unusual off day in South Yorkshire but the Bolton boss was sure his side was destined for bigger things.

“I feel the Rotherham result is a set-back but one we’ll recover from quickly,” he said. “The players will move on quickly and know that they have bigger challenges ahead.”

On this day – March 31, 1894

WANDERERS reached their first-ever FA Cup final after beating Small Heath, Newcastle United and Liverpool but would end up empty-handed against Notts County.

Played at Goodison Park after safety concerns in the previous year’s game at Fallowfield, the final attracted a relatively small 37,000 crowd.

James Logan was the star of the day, scoring three times, with Arthur Watson adding a fourth.

Bolton, whose goal came from Jim Cassidy, suffered a number of injuries on the day which significantly hampered their chances. According to the match report of the day, Alex Paton was swathed in bandages, Harry Gardiner wasn't fit, Handel Bentley was ill, John Somerville was troubled with a facial injury and shouldn't have played, and Archie Hughes got hurt only five minutes after the start.

County became the first team from outside the top division to ever lift the trophy.

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