Bolton Wanderers F.C.
|Full name||Bolton Wanderers Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Trotters, The Wanderers|
|Founded||1874(as Christ Church F.C.)|
Bolton, Greater Manchester
|2014–15||The Championship, 18th|
|Website||Club home page|
Bolton Wanderers Football Club i// is an English professional football club based in Bolton. The club competes in the 2015–16 Championship. The club was formed as Christ Church Football Club in 1874, and adopted its current name in 1877. Founder members of the Football League, Bolton have spent the highest number of seasons of any club in the top flight without winning the title (the 2011–12 season was their 73rd, non-consecutive year in the top flight). The closest they have come to the title is third in the First Division on three occasions (1891–92, 1920–21 and 1924–25). As of 2014, the club has spent more seasons in the top division than any other club outside the current Premier League.
Bolton were a successful cup side in the 1920s, winning the FA Cup three times. The club won the cup a fourth time in 1958. A leaner spell followed, reaching a nadir in 1987 when the club spent a season in the Fourth Division. The club regained top-flight status in 1995 after a 15-year absence. In a period of relative success, the club qualified for the UEFA Cup twice, reaching the last 32 in 2005–06 and the last 16 in 2007–08.
The club played at Burnden Park for 102 years from 1895. In 1997 it moved out of town to the Reebok Stadium, named after long-term club sponsor Reebok. The stadium was renamed the Macron Stadium from July 2014 after the club's new sponsor.
- 1 History
- 2 Colours and badge
- 3 Stadiums
- 4 Support
- 5 Ownership and finances
- 6 Players
- 7 Club officials
- 8 Honours
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early history (1877–1929)
The club was founded by the Reverend Thomas Ogden, the schoolmaster at Christ Church in 1874 as Christ Church F.C. It was initially run from the church of the same name on Deane Road, Bolton, on the site where the Innovation factory of the University of Bolton now stands. The club left the location following a dispute with the vicar, and changed its name to Bolton Wanderers in 1877. The name was chosen as the club initially had a lot of difficulty finding a permanent ground to play on, having used three venues in its first four years of existence.
Bolton were one of the 12 founder members of the Football League, which formed in 1888. At the time Lancashire was one of the strongest footballing regions in the country, with 6 of the 12 founder clubs coming from within the boundaries of the historic county of Lancashire. Having remained in the Football League since its formation, Bolton have spent more time in the top flight (Premier League/old First Division) than out of it.
In 1894 Bolton reached the final of the FA Cup for the first time, but lost 4–1 to Notts County at Goodison Park. A decade later they were runners-up a second time, losing 1–0 to local rivals Manchester City at Crystal Palace on 23 April 1904.
The period before and after the First World War was Bolton's most consistent period of top-flight success as measured by league finishes, with the club finishing outside the top 8 of the First Division on only two occasions between 1911–12 and 1927–28. In this period Bolton equalled their record finish of third twice, in 1920–21 and 1924–25, on the latter occasion missing out on the title by just 3 points (in an era of 2 points for a win).
On 28 April 1923, Bolton won their first major trophy in their third final, beating West Ham United 2–0 in the first ever Wembley FA Cup final. The match, famously known as The White Horse Final was played in front of over 127,000 supporters. Bolton's centre-forward, David Jack scored the first ever goal at Wembley Stadium. Driven by long-term players Joe Smith in attack, Ted Vizard and Billy Butler on the wings, and Jimmy Seddon in defence, they became the most successful cup side of the twenties, winning three times. Their second victory of the decade came in 1926, beating Manchester City 1–0 in front of over 91,000 spectators, and the third came in 1929 as Portsmouth were beaten 2–0 in front of nearly 93,000 fans.
In 1928 the club faced financial difficulties and so was forced to sell David Jack to Arsenal to raise funds. Despite the pressure to sell, the agreed fee of £10,890 was a world record, more than double the previous most expensive transfer of a player.
Top flight run and cup success (1929–1958)
From 1935 to 1964, Bolton enjoyed an uninterrupted stay in the top flight – regarded by fans as a golden era – spearheaded in the 1950s by Nat Lofthouse. The years of the Second World War saw most of the Wanderers' playing staff see action on the front, a rare occurrence within elite football, as top sportsmen were generally assigned to physical training assignments, away from enemy fire. However, 15 Bolton professionals, led by their captain Harry Goslin, volunteered for active service in 1939, and were enlisted in the 53rd Bolton Artillery regiment. By the end of the war, 32 of the 35 pre-war professionals saw action in the British forces. The sole fatality was Goslin, who had by then risen to the rank of Lieutenant and was killed by shrapnel on the Italian front shortly before Christmas 1943. 53rd Bolton Artillery took part in the Battle of Dunkirk and also served in the campaigns of Egypt, Iraq and Italy. Remarkably, a number of these soldiers managed to carry on playing the game in these theatres of war, taking on as 'British XI' various scratch teams assembled by, among others, King Farouk of Egypt in Cairo and Polish forces in Baghdad.
On 9 March 1946, the club's home was the scene of the Burnden Park disaster, which at the time was the worst tragedy in British football history. 33 Bolton Wanderers fans were crushed to death, and another 400 injured, in an FA Cup quarter-final second leg tie between Bolton and Stoke City. There was an estimated 67,000-strong crowd crammed in for the game, though other estimates vary widely, with a further 15,000 locked out as it became clear the stadium was full. The disaster led to Moelwyn Hughes's official report, which recommended more rigorous control of crowd sizes.
In 1953 Bolton played in one of the most famous FA Cup finals of all time – The Stanley Matthews Final of 1953. Bolton lost the game to Blackpool 4–3 after gaining a 3–1 lead. Blackpool were victorious thanks to the skills of Matthews and the goals of Stan Mortensen.
Bolton Wanderers have not won a major trophy since 1958, when two Lofthouse goals saw them overcome Manchester United in the FA Cup final in front of a 100,000 crowd at Wembley Stadium. The closest they have come to winning a major trophy since then is finishing runners-up in the League Cup, first in 1995 and again in 2004.
Few highs and many lows (1958–1995)
While Bolton finished 4th the following season, the next 20 years would prove to be a fallow period. The club suffered relegation to the Second Division in 1963–64, and were then relegated again to the Third Division for the first time in their history in 1970–71. This stay in the Third Division lasted just two years before the club were promoted as champions in 1972–73. Hopes were high at Burnden Park in May 1978 when Bolton sealed the Second Division title and gained promotion to the First Division. However, they only remained there for two seasons before being relegated.:36
Following relegation in 1980, Bolton signed former Manchester United European Cup winning striker Brian Kidd from Everton for £150,000:90 as they prepared to challenge for a quick return to the First Division. Kidd scored a hat-trick in his third game for Bolton, a 4–0 win over Newcastle United in the league, but the rest of the season was a struggle as Bolton finished close to the relegation places.:91 By the end of the 1981–82 season, Bolton were no closer to promotion and had lost several key players including Peter Reid and Neil Whatmore. The following season Bolton were relegated to the Third Division after losing 4–1 at Charlton Athletic on the final day.:92
Despite a new-look, much younger team and an 8–1 win over Walsall, Bolton's best league win for 50 years, Bolton failed to win promotion in the 1983–84 season, and would remain in the Third Division for another three seasons. In 1986 Nat Lofthouse was appointed President of the football club, a position he would hold until his death on 15 January 2011. At the end of the 1986–87 season, Bolton Wanderers suffered relegation to the Fourth Division for the first time in their history,:38 but won promotion back to the Third Division at the first attempt. The club won the Sherpa Van Trophy in 1989, defeating Torquay United 4–1. During the 1990–91 season, Bolton were pipped to the final automatic promotion place by Southend United and lost to Tranmere Rovers in the play-off final, but they failed to build on this and the following season saw the club finish 13th.:100
The early 1990s saw Bolton gain a giant-killing reputation in cup competitions. In 1993 Bolton beat FA Cup holders Liverpool 2–0 in a third round replay at Anfield, thanks to goals from John McGinlay and Andy Walker. The club also defeated higher division opposition in the form of Wolverhampton Wanderers (2–1) that year before bowing out to Derby County. Bolton also secured promotion to the second tier for the first time since 1983. In 1994 Bolton again beat FA Cup holders, this time in the form of Arsenal, 3–1 after extra time in a fourth round replay, and went on to reach the quarter-finals, bowing out 1–0 at home to local rivals (and then Premiership) Oldham Athletic. Bolton also defeated top division opposition in the form of Everton (3–2) and Aston Villa (1–0) that year.
Return to the top flight, into Europe (1995–2008)
Bolton reached the Premiership in 1995 thanks to a 4–3 victory over Reading in the Division One play-off Final. Reading took a 2–0 lead before Bolton scored two late goals to take the game to extra time, scoring twice more before a late Reading consolation. The same year Bolton progressed to the League Cup Final, but were defeated 2–1 by Liverpool. Bolton were bottom for virtually all of the 1995–96 Premiership campaign and were relegated as they lost their penultimate game 1–0 to Southampton.:105
The club won promotion back to the Premiership at the first attempt thanks to a season in which they achieved 98 league points and 100 goals in the process of securing the Division One championship, the first time since 1978 that they had finished top of any division. This season also marked the club's departure from Burnden Park to the Reebok Stadium, the last game at the stadium being a 4–1 win over Charlton Athletic.
In 2000 Bolton reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, Worthington Cup and play-offs but lost on penalties to Aston Villa, 4–0 on aggregate to Tranmere Rovers and 7–5 on aggregate to Ipswich Town respectively. In 2000–01 Bolton were promoted back to the Premiership after beating Preston North End 3–0 in the play-off final.
Bolton struggled in the following two seasons, but survived in the Premiership. The 2001–02 season began with a shock as they destroyed Leicester 5–0 at Filbert Street:94 to go top of the table. Despite a 2–1 win away at Manchester United, becoming the first team since the formation of the Premiership to come from behind and win a league game at Old Trafford, they went into a deep slump during the middle of the season and needed a Fredi Bobic hat-trick against Ipswich Town to survive. Despite losing the final three games, 16th place was secured. The 2002–03 season began with a poor start and, despite another win away at Manchester United, they were bottom until a 4–2 win against Leeds United at Elland Road. Despite suffering from a lack of consistency, Bolton achieved the results needed and secured survival in a final day 2–1 victory over Middlesbrough.
In 2005, Bolton finished sixth in the league, thus earning qualification for the UEFA Cup for the first time in their history. The following season, they reached the last 32 but were eliminated by French team Marseille as they lost 2–1 on aggregate. Between 2003–04 and 2006–07, Bolton recorded consecutive top-eight finishes, a record of consistency bettered only by the big four of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal.:470–7
The 2007–08 season saw Bolton survive with a 16th-place finish, their safety being confirmed on the final day of the season, as they went on an unbeaten run for their final five games, as well as getting to the last sixteen of the UEFA Cup. During the European run, Bolton gained an unexpected draw at former European champions Bayern Munich as well as becoming the first British team to beat Red Star Belgrade in Belgrade. They also defeated Atlético Madrid on aggregate before being knocked out by Sporting Lisbon.
Recent History (2008– Present)
Bolton broke their record transfer fee with the signing of Johan Elmander from Toulouse on 27 June 2008, in a deal which cost the club a reported £8.2 million and saw Norwegian striker Daniel Braaten head in the opposite direction. Bolton survived in the 2009–10 season as they finished 14th with 39 points. This secured a tenth successive top flight campaign for Bolton.
In the 2010–11 FA Cup, Bolton progressed all the way to the semi-finals, but were beaten 5–0 by Stoke City at Wembley with the match being described as "a massive anti-climax". The following season began as the previous one had ended with just one win and six defeats, their worst start since the 1902–03 season when they were relegated.
On 17 March 2012, then-manager Owen Coyle travelled to the London Chest Hospital with Fabrice Muamba who had suffered from a cardiac arrest whilst playing against Tottenham Hotspur at White Hart Lane in a FA Cup match. Muamba stayed in a critical condition for several weeks and Coyle was widely praised for the manner in which he represented the club during the period.
On 13 May 2012, Bolton Wanderers were relegated to the Championship by one point on the last day of the season after drawing 2–2 with Stoke City, with Stoke scoring a controversial opener in which former player Jon Walters appeared to push goalkeeper Adam Bogdan into the net, and then a questionable penalty.
The Championship season started badly for Bolton, with only three wins in ten league matches and a second round exit from the League Cup following a loss at Crawley Town. As a result of poor performances leaving them in 16th place, Bolton sacked manager Owen Coyle on 9 October 2012. On 23 October 2012, then Crystal Palace manager Dougie Freedman joined the club as manager. However, the change in management did not bring the change in fortunes expected straight away. By the end of 2012, Bolton were 14th.
Freedman's first transfer window led to the signings of Medo Kamara for an undisclosed fee and Craig Dawson on loan, two signings that seemed to cause the upturn in Bolton's fortunes. On 9 February 2013, Bolton defeated rivals Burnley 2–1, began a successful run in the league taking them up to 6th place, with many suggesting they would finish the season in the play-offs in spite of their poor start to the season. On the last day, 4 May 2013, Bolton drew 2–2 with Blackpool, while Leicester City won 3–2 against fellow play-off rivals Nottingham Forest, meaning that Bolton finished outside the play-off places, in 7th place – losing out to Leicester on goal difference.
The 2013–14 began again with a trip to Turf Moor, this time in celebration of the 125th anniversary of the Football League. Bolton came away with a point after Darren Pratley cancelled out a Danny Ings opener. Later in the week, the club completed the signing of Jay Spearing, who had become something of a fan favourite after his season-long-loan with the Trotters. Their first home game of the season ended with a 1–1 draw against relegated Reading, with Pratley again on the score sheet. A 3–0 loss to Nottingham Forest at the City Ground highlighted the side's lack of creativity without last season's top scorer Chris Eagles, who was sidelined due to injury. It also reinforced the fans' opinion that club needed to recapture Dawson either on loan or permanently to compete for promotion back into the Premier League.
The signings proved effective as the Whites then embarked upon a 7-game unbeaten streak, including wins away at Birmingham City, Watford FC and Bournemouth AFC. However, the following months provided mixed fortunes, with results such as a 7–1 loss at the Madejski Stadium contrasting with 4–0 and 5–1 wins over Blackburn Rovers and away at Leeds United respectively. Bolton ended the season firmly mid-table, with the expectations of another promotion push not met.
Colours and badge
Bolton Wanderers' home colours are white shirts with navy and red trim, worn with navy shorts and white and navy hooped socks. Their current away kit is a red jersey with blue trim worn with red shorts and red and blue hooped socks. Bolton did not always wear the white kit they do today, in 1884 they wore white with red spots, leading to the club's original nickname of "The Spots". This nickname has fallen into disuse since the club adopted its now-traditional colours of white shirts with navy blue shorts. The navy blue shorts were dispensed with in 2003, in favour of an all-white strip, but they returned in 2008. The club had previously experimented with an all-white kit in the 1970s.
The Bolton Wanderers club badge previously consisted of the initials of the club in the shape of a ball, with red and blue ribbons beneath. The ribbons controversially replaced the Red Rose of Lancashire, coinciding with the club's 125th anniversary, celebrated in 2002. The club's original badge was the town crest of Bolton. The badge has been changed again for the 2013–14 season, to be similar to the older style with the 'Red Rose'. It also shows the year the club was founded. The re-design has been welcomed by fans who saw the ribbons as a poor choice.
The club's nickname of "The Trotters" has several claimed derivations; that it is simply a variation on "Wanderers", that it is an old local term for a practical joker, or that one of the grounds used before the club settled at Pikes Lane resided next to a piggery, causing players to have to "trot" through the pig pens to retrieve the ball if it went over the fence.
When the club was first founded, Christ Church had a nomadic existence, playing at a number of locations in the area. The club, which had by then been renamed Bolton Wanderers, started playing regularly at Pike's Lane in 1881.:48 Spending £150 on pitch improvements, season tickets cost a guinea. They played here for fourteen years until the tenancy expired and they moved to Burnden Park.
Situated in the Burnden area of Bolton, approximately one mile from the centre of the town, the ground served as the home of the town's football team for 102 years. In its heyday, Burnden Park could hold up to 70,000 supporters but this figure was dramatically reduced during the final 20 years of its life. A section of The Embankment was sold off in 1986 to make way for a new Normid superstore. At this time, Bolton were in a dire position financially and were struggling in the Football League Third Division, so there was a low demand for tickets and the loss of part of the ground gave the Bolton directors good value for money.:59
By 1992 the club's directors had decided that it would be difficult to convert Burnden Park into an all-seater stadium for a club of Bolton's ambition, as the Taylor Report required all first- and second-tier clubs to do.:62 A decision was made to build an out of town stadium in the suburb of Horwich, with the eventual location chosen 5 miles due west of the town centre. The stadium opened in August 1997. In April 2014, as part of a sponsorship deal with Macron (sportswear), Bolton Wanderers F.C. officially announced on their website that the club had landed a four-year deal with Macron Sportswear, based in Bologna, Italy, who bought the naming rights to the stadium and will manufacture the kits for the duration of the deal. The stadium was rebranded the "Macron Stadium", taking over from originally local company Reebok who had had the naming rights since the stadium opened in 1997. The deal was announced by Phil Gartside, the chairman of the club, who said the deal was "exciting and prosperous" for Bolton Wanderers. He did not state the cost of the deal, however.
It is a modern, all-seater stadium with a capacity of around 29,000. In recognition of the club's former ground the stadium stands on "Burnden Way". It has four stands, though the lower tier seating is one continuous bowl. It was originally known as the Reebok Stadium after long-time team sponsor, Reebok. This was initially unpopular with many fans, as it was considered impersonal, and that too much emphasis was being placed on financial considerations. This opposition considerably lessened since the stadium was built. In 2014 the club established Bolton Wanderers Free School at the stadium, a sixth form offering sports and related courses for 16- to 19-year-olds
Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Association (BWSA) is the official supporters' association of Bolton Wanderers Football Club. The Supporters' Association was formed in 1992, on the initiative of a fan, Peter Entwistle. Later that year the Directors of the football club, satisfied that the Association had proven itself to be organised and responsible, officially recognised Bolton Wanderers Supporters' Association as the club's supporters' group.
In 1997, shortly after the move from Burnden Park to the Reebok Stadium, the BWSA accepted the invitation from the football club to hold its monthly meetings at the new stadium. The Macron Stadium has continued to be their venue ever since. In the year 2000, the Association expanded significantly when its invitation to affiliate was accepted by Bolton Wanderers supporters groups in other parts of Britain, and also by groups around the world. All of these foreign groups have come on board to become independent, but integral, parts of the official Bolton Wanderers supporters' family. Requests for affiliated status continue to be received regularly from other places around the world where Wanderers fans find themselves gather together.
Bolton historically have a rivalry with near neighbours Bury, though this has lessened since the Second World War as the two clubs have rarely been in the same league. The club also has a rivalry with Blackburn Rovers, as the two sides are separated by just fifteen miles and are both founder members of the Football League,. More recently, Bolton have developed an enmity with Wigan Athletic, whose fans generally regard Bolton as their main rivals. Bolton fans maintain a mutual dislike with the fans of Tranmere Rovers, Burnley, Manchester City, and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Ownership and finances
|Period||Kit manufacturer||Shirt sponsor|
|1981–1982||Bolton Evening News|
The holding company of Bolton Wanderers F.C. is Burnden Leisure plc, which is a private company limited by shares. Burnden Leisure was previously a public company traded on the AIM stock exchange until its voluntary delisting in May 2003 following Eddie Davies's takeover. The club itself is 100% owned by Burnden Leisure, with Bolton-born businessman Eddie Davies holding 94.5% of issued shares in Burnden Leisure. The remaining stakes are held by over 6,000 small shareholders with less than 0.1% holding each.
Bolton's debt is substantial, at £136.5m as at the end of the 2012–13 season, but £125m of this is owed to majority shareholder Eddie Davies, with only £11.5m due to external organisations. The debt has climbed rapidly from £29m at the start of the 2007–08 season when Gary Megson was installed as manager, who embarked upon a substantial spending spree in an attempt to prevent the club suffering relegation from the Premier League. In response to this rapid increase, the debt owed to Eddie Davies was renegotiated from short-term to long-term debt during the 2011–12 season, meaning the club would have 10 years from demand of repayment to satisfy the debt and any interest accumulated.
Bolton Wanderers had a long-established partnership with sporting goods firm Reebok, which was formed in the town. Between 1997 and 2009 this partnership encompassed shirt sponsorship, kit manufacture and stadium naming rights. The combined shirt sponsorship (1990–2009) and kit manufacture (1993–2012) deals covering 22 years represent the longest kit partnership in English football history. The stadium's naming rights were held by Reebok since its opening in 1997 and was due to run until the end of the 2015–16 season. Bolton's kit manufacturer from the 2014/15 season changed to Italian sportswear brand Macron who also manufacture kits for clubs including Aston Villa, Lazio and Napoli. The stadium was also re-branded as the Macron Stadium from July 2014 in an agreement that will last for an initial four years.
- As of 1 September 2015.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Reserves and Academy squad
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
In 2005, a list of "50 Wanderers Legends" was compiled by the club as the result of a fan survey: "Thousands of supporters ... nominated their favourites with modern day heroes giving the old-timers a run for their money".
|Majority Shareholder||Eddie Davies|
|Advisor to Board||Trevor Birch|
|Assistant Manager||Steve Walford|
|First Team Coach||Garry Parker|
|Goalkeeping Coach||Bobby Mimms|
|Head of Sports Development||Mark Leather|
|Development Coach||Iain Brunskill|
|Player/Development Coach||Andrew Hughes|
|Head of Technical Recruitment||James Bell-Walker|
|Chief Scout||Jim Melrose|
|Regional Scout||Leon Cort|
|First Team Physiotherapist||Steve Megson|
|Strength & Conditioning Coach||Dan Birdsall|
|First Team Sports Scientist||Kristian Aldred|
|Assistant Physiotherapist||Matthew Fox|
|Soft Tissue Therapist||Alan Watmough|
|Fitness Coach||Chris Short|
- Second Division/First Division
- Third Division/Second Division
Overall League Performance
- Division 1/Premier League: 1888–99, 1900–3, 1905–8, 1909–10, 1911–33, 1935–64, 1978–80, 1995–6, 1997–8, 2001–12 (73 seasons)
- Division 2/Championship: 1899–1900, 1903–5, 1908–9, 1910–1, 1933–5, 1964–71, 1973–8, 1980–3, 1993–5, 1996–7, 1998–2001, 2012– (30 seasons)
- Division 3/League 1: 1971–3, 1983–7, 1988–93 (11 seasons)
- Division 4/League 2: 1987–8 (1 season)
- FA Cup
- Football League Trophy
- Champions: 1989
- Runners-up: 1986
- Reserves and Others
- Football League War Cup Winners (1) – 1945
- Premier League Asia Trophy Winners (1) – 2005
- Peace Cup Runners up (1) – 2007
- Carlsberg Cup Winners (1) – 2010
- Lancashire Senior Cup Winners (12) – 1886, 1891, 1912, 1922, 1925, 1927, 1932, 1934, 1939 (shared with Preston North End), 1948, 1989, 1991
- Central League Champions – 1955, 1995
- Premier Reserve League North Champions – 2007
- Manchester Senior Cup 1922, 1963, 2015
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