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Memorable Match: Barnsley v Bolton

Back when we were good......

Shaun Botterill/Allsport

Believe it or not, Bolton Wanderers once had a good team. A really good team.

The 1996/97 season was a landmark one in the history of the club. It was our first year back in the First Division following relegation from the Premier League, and it was to the final season at the historic Burnden Park before the move out of Bolton to Horwich and the futuristic Reebok Stadium.

Bolton had started the season in fine form, losing just once in the first four months of the season - and that was a surprise 2-5 away defeat to Southend United. Manager Colin Todd had built a strong and attractive side who led the way at the top of the First Division.

We had played Barnsley once already that season, a 2-2 draw in October at Oakwell. John McGinlay had scored a first minute penalty, and a 49th minute Alan Thompson goal meant that Bolton came away from the game against their promotion rivals with a hard earned point.

Former Wanderers Neil Redfearn scored twice for Barnsley that day, including one penalty.

Three days prior, Bolton had record a famous 6-1 home win against Premier League side Tottenham Hotspur at Burnden Park in the League Cup, and naturally confidence was high following such a fantastic result.

We played the reverse fixture at Burnden Park just four short weeks later, meaning that by the end of November we had fulfilled our league obligations against the Yorkshiremen which is something that I cannot remember happening again since.

Nathan Blake opened the scoring for Wanderers in the 20th minute, before that man Redfearn again struck twice. As had happened at the end of October when the two sides met at Oakwell, he scored his second from the penalty spot.

Wanderers' unbeaten home record was under threat.

Todd had his strongest team out that day with names such as former Barnsley man Gerry Taggart and Danish duo Per Frandsen and Michael Johansen being in fine form.

It took Bolton until the 88th minute when an Alan Thompson strike saved the home record from going under, and gave Wanderers the impetus to believe that something special could be achieved that season.

Wanderers went on to win the division, scoring a then-record of 100 goals, only falling short of 100 points following an anticlimactic last-day draw away at rivals Trampmere Rovers.

Those were the days!

The Teams

Bolton Wanderers

Keith Branagan, Gudni Bergsson, Jimmy Phillips (Michael Johansen '84), Andy Todd, Alan Thompson, Chris Fairclough, David Lee, Scott Sellars, Nathan Blake, John McGinlay, John Sheridan (Per Frandsen '60)


Dave Watson, Nicky Eaden, Matt Appleby, Jovo Bosancic, Steve Davis, Arjan De Zeeuw, Neil Redfearn, Paul Wilkinson, Clint Marcelle (Martin Bullock '87), Darren Sheridan

Attendance - 16,852