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ON THIS DAY: Wanderers deal with fallout of Burnden disaster

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
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We delved into the archives to find out what was happening at Bolton Wanderers on this day in history

1946: Bolton’s chairman, Mr C N Banks told the club’s AGM that without the tragedy which had occurred against Stoke City at Burnden Park on March 9 the club would “surely have been in the FA Cup final.”

Shareholders gathered at the Empress Hall to hear the club had experienced success and sorrow in the previous 12 months.

The impact of 33 lost lives during their game against Stoke City the previous month, however, should “not be underestimated” said Mr Banks.

“The players came back to the ground every day and could not get away from the tragedy,” he noted. “There were dozens of people and officials looking at the damage, making notes etc. And it all had a great effect.

“Then came the cup tie journey. Usually we are a happy party. This time we never heard a word from the lads.”

Mr Banks said he did not want to take away credit from the team that knocked Bolton out of the competition, Charlton Athletic, and addressed rumours that there had been trouble among the players, adding: “There is no truth to that at all.”

The balance sheet showed a profit of £5,051, which would have been £8.000 but for £2,000 placed to one side for repairs and another £1,000 written off the Burnden Park account.

It was also noted by Mr Tom Barlow that there had been an “alarming” rise in the prices of tickets to the FA Cup semi-final that season – now priced at a pound a seat. Of the £18,000 in gate receipts taken in the game, only £1,500 went to each of the competing clubs.

“There is a risk,” said Mr Barlow, “that such charges will kill the goose that lays the golden eggs.”

1996: FANS were determined to back Wanderers in their bid for survival in the Premiership – successful of otherwise.

Huge interest had been reported in tickets to Highbury, where Bruce Rioch’s Gunners were looking to book their place in Europe.

The club were to be allocated 2,200 tickets at £11 each for the Clock End. They had also sold out the allocation of 2,500 for Everton at Goodison Park on Easter Saturday.

Meanwhile, Bradford City were keeping their fingers crossed that Wanderers beat the drop.

The Yorkshiremen were due another £100,000 on top of the £300,000 already paid for goalkeeper Gavin Ward if he helped them survive relegation.

The Bantams were also set to keep 25 per cent of any profit that Bolton made on their former player.

1988: WANDERERS recorded their biggest-ever attendance in the fourth tier of English football at Burnden Park, with 9,921 gathering to watch them beat Burnley 2-1.

Andy May, who had been signed on loan from Huddersfield Town, had hit a winner against Leyton Orient a week earlier and made it a happy Easter with the first against the Clarets.

Steve Thompson grabbed the second – but Bolton’s crowd was put into context by the fact more than 20,000 had attended the Challenge Cup semi-final between Salford and Wigan on the same ground some three weeks earlier.

Phil Neal’s side were fourth but had three home games remaining and were confident they could secure one of the promotion spots.

“I feel we have got the quality and nerve that it will take,” said the Bolton boss.

1968: WANDERERS are definitely NOT going to “do a Portsmouth” at Burnden Park.

That was the statement put out by chairman Joseph Battersby after it had been claimed in a board meeting that the club was thinking about axing its Central League reserve team and relying on a pool of 16 to 18 first team players.

Major John Greenhalgh had attacked the idea at the meeting, prompting a swift response from the club in the evening’s edition of the paper.

“With reference to the continue rumours that Bolton Wanderers are going to do a Portsmouth at Burnden Park the board at their meeting today unanimously agreed that we should announce this move is definitely not being considered.

“We hope this statement will kill the rumours. It is the last we want to hear about the matter.”

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