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My First Football Hero: Supa John McGinlay

Chris takes a look back at our former striker as news breaks of his appointment as Chief Scout to Owen Coyle at Wigan.

Shaun Botterill/Allsport

So as we all no doubt are aware, former Bolton Wanderers striker John McGinlay was today appointed as the new Chief Scout to another former Bolton man in Owen Coyle, the new Wigan Athletic manager.

I have spent the morning thinking about McGinlay and his impact on the club, and was inspired to put some of these brain-farts to paper, so to speak. I began watching Bolton Wanderers in the early 1990s aged six or seven, but only had my first season ticket towards the end of the decade which coincided with the McGinlay era. Before that I would be taken to most home games by relatives but only had a permanent seat later on.

John McGinlay was signed by then-manager Bruce Rioch in 1992, joining from Millwall whom he had joined from Bolton's local neighbours Bury. A somewhat nomadic striker, his professional career had started later than most, with Bolton being the 10th club along the way. He would take in five more before retiring following a spell playing for the Cincinnati Kings in America.

McGinlay would be a mainstay of the Bolton Wanderers team throughout his time at Burnden and, latterly, the Reebok Stadium. Though his career with us would wind down following age and injury problems, he is still fondly remembered amongst our fans. Memories of him running out to join the pre-game warm-up but only after they'd done the jogging element always brought a smile to my face, not to mention his perfectly understandable dislike of anything to do with Wolverhampton Wanderers.

I have decided to compile my top five McGinlay Moments - no doubt some will agree and some will disagree, but I'm sure that all Bolton Wanderers fans will look back with great joy at his time with us.

McGinlay Moments:

1) John McGinlay and Andy Walker made a lethal pairing, with the two Scotsmen combing to score almost literally dozens and dozens of goals. McGinlay made an impact at Anfield in 1993 scoring a header against Liverpool as Bolton defeated the home side in the FA Cup. This was the start of what would go on to be known as the "White Hot" years in which the club gained a reputation for giant-killing in the domestic cup competitions.

2) "A wee push" - May 1995 - Another game that will go down in infamy - Wanderers had lost the first leg of the Play Off Semi Final and had to win on the night to face Reading in the Final. The abiding memory of the whole night however comes in the form of a picture, a famous image of McGinlay standing over Wolves striker David Kelly having just biffed him with a first-class left cross. McGinlay went without punishment and then knocked in the winner to send Bolton to Wembley and eventually to the Premier League. Have some of that, Wolves!

3) "The Battle of Burnden" - 1997 - "One player started it. He knows who he is and there was no need for it. The referee lost control and to be fair he didn't really get it back," Wolves striker Iwan Roberts said. Most pointed the finger at John Sheridan.

The game erupted after Bolton had a penalty claim rejected when Nathan Blake fell under a Dean Richards tackle. Sheridan complained and was dragged back by Mark Venus, who was struck. Furious punches were traded. Roberts was in the thick of things and reports suggest Gerry Taggart ran 60 yards to join in the battle with Steve Bull taking two uppercuts on his chin.

Steve Bull and Taggart were later booked for aiming head-butts at each other. Sheridan said: "There was a bit of fisticuffs in the first couple of minutes but that's all part of the game. A lot of players got involved in the fracas but it was all over in five minutes. A few players appealed for a penalty and that was it, really. I was caught in the middle of it."

Former Bolton and Wolves striker Nathan Blake spoke a few years back. "It's not the kind of thing you can forget," he said. "There's always been bad blood there between the clubs. I remember before the game we got warned for weeks that we were going to get kicked off the pitch, and bullied, so we were really fired up. There had been a bit of handbags and some of our lads waded in there to sort things out. We had a few guys who could handle themselves, but then so did Wolves. It all kicked off but it affected them more than us because we won the game."


4) Hull away - 1993 - Bolton visited Boothferry Park on a Friday night that will go down in club lore. After having Alan Stubbs sent off in the first half and with Bolton needing a win, and naturally it was McGinlay who scored in the dying minutes to send the thousands of travelling fans wild prompting a pitch invasion and utter chaos and delirium in the stands. Bolton went on to be promoted as runners up, finishing the season with five consecutive victories.

5) Charlton Athletic, Burnden Park, April 1997 - the last game at the famous Burnden Park ground before the club would move to the futuristic Reebok Stadium. The club had won promotion from the First Division as Champions under Colin Todd, and hoped to give the old ground a send-off that would live long in the memory. They certainly did.

McGinlay had taken a pain-killing injection to play in the game, and he would line up with strike partner Nathan Blake, however things did not go to plan as the visitors took the lead with a stunning 25-yard shot from Mark Kinsella. Bolton would equalize at the start of the second half with a long range strike from midfielder Alan Thompson.

The home fans were sent into raptures when Gerry Taggart scored from a Scott Sellars cross to make it 2-1 to Bolton. McGinlay would then step up to score twice more, meaning that he had the honour of scoring the last ever goal at the soon-to-be-demolished famous old stadium and earning his place in Bolton Wanderers history.