Bolton Wanderers fans have plenty of reasons for optimism heading into Saturday's match against Liverpool, if we base it solely on the history between the two sides in cup competitions. This is particularly the case in the FA Cup, in which the two sides have met 11 times, with Wanderers boasting an aggregate lead of 25-8.
As mentioned in the pre-WW2 article previously, the very first clash between Bolton and Liverpool was an FA Cup third round tie on 24th February 1894. A bumper crowd of 20,000 people packed out Wanderers' former home Pikes Lane to see the hosts ease to a 3-0 victory with goals from Jimmy Dickenson, Handel Bentley and Jimmy Cassidy. Bolton reached the final of the FA Cup that season, where they were defeated 4-1 by Notts County.
The next cup clash came a full 30 years later, in an FA Cup 2nd Round clash at Burnden Park on 2nd February 1924. Wanderers were the FA Cup holders having won the famous White Horse Final against West Ham in 1923, and took a second minute lead through John Smith, but Liverpool equalised just one minute later through Jimmy Walsh. Harry Chambers added a second for the visitors shortly after half-time before Walsh completed a hat-trick with two late goals to send the hosts crashing out.
The sides clashed again five years later in the 4th Round of Bolton's Cup-winning run of 1929. The sides endured a 0-0 stalemate at Anfield before Bolton trounced Liverpool 5-2 in the replay at Burnden Park. Bolton's goals came courtesy of Billy Butler, Jim McCleland and George Gibson, followed by a brace from Harold Blackmore, who racked up an impressive 111 goals in 153 games for Bolton and scored the second goal against Portsmouth in the final.
Fans of the two sides had to wait another five years for the next FA Cup meeting, from which Bolton again emerged victorious. Wanderers won the clash, on 17th February 1934, 3-0 with goals from club legends Jack Milsom and Ray Westwood, and a third added by George Taylor. But this match was remembered for fisticuffs rather than football. A spectator account claims a Bolton defender and Liverpool striker Sam English came to blows, which then broke out into a fight between the defender and Liverpool legend Gordon Hodgson, their third highest goalscorer of all-time. The spectator's mate then dashed off, presumably going to the toilet, only for him to emerge on the pitch throwing punches at the Bolton defender then turned round and punched a policeman, for which he received six months in prison.
World War Two put pay to further cup clashes for several years, with the next contest occurring in February 1946 in a bizarre two-legged 4th Round affair. Bolton won the first leg at home 5-0, then Liverpool won the second leg 2-0 - sending the Whites through 5-2 on aggregate. The first leg is of particular note as all five goals were scored by two of the greatest players to have pulled on the famous white shirt. A hat-trick from Ray Westwood - the club's fifth top goalscorer of all-time with 144 goals - followed a first half brace from a certain Nat Lofthouse, Wanderers' record goalscorer with 255 goals in 452 matches and a true one club man. Lofthouse lifted the FA Cup as Wanderers captain over Manchester United in the 1958 final and was an inaugural inductee into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2002.
Eight years later Wanderers again emerged victorious, with a 1-0 FA Cup 3rd Round win over Liverpool at Burnden Park, on 9th January 1954. The only goal that day was scored by Willie Moir, who captained the side and scored two goals against Blackpool in the Matthews Cup Final the previous season.
A legendary Liverpool side exacted revenge with a 1-0 victory of their own in an FA Cup 5th Round clash at Burnden Park on 20th February 1965. Liverpool's record appearances holder Ian Callaghan, who racked up 857 games for the club, scored the only goal for a side that contained the likes of Roger Hunt, Ian St John and Ron Yeats, the club's second longest serving captain behind only Steven Gerrard.
Three seasons later the two sides met for the first time in the League Cup, with Bolton drawn to play Liverpool away in the 2nd Round on 13th September 1967. The match was a 1-1 draw, with Franny Lee's first half opener cancelled out on 73 minutes by Peter Thompson, who went on to sign for Bolton six years later. The draw meant a replay at Burnden Park, in which Bolton ran out 3-2 winners, thanks to a Frederick Hill goal sandwiching a brace from Gordon Taylor, now the chief executive of the PFA.
Fans of the two sides then had to wait 26 years for another cup meeting, as Bolton and Liverpool went head-to-head in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup on 3rd January 1993. The draw put Bolton, then in the third tier Second Division, up against the cup holders Liverpool at Burnden Park. The hosts got off to a flyer with John McGinlay's sixth minute goal, and were then in dreamland as Mark Seagraves doubled the lead on 22 minutes. But a second half own goal by Mark Winstanley gave the visitors a lifeline, and they killed hopes of a giantkilling with Ian Rush's goal eight minutes from time. That took the game to a replay at Anfield, which pretty much everyone presumed would be a walkover for Liverpool. But Bolton took heart from the first match and pulled off an unlikely 2-0 victory with goals from mighty Scottish strike duo John McGinlay and Andy Walker.
Two seasons later the two sides met in the 1995 League Cup Final at Wembley. Winger Steve McManaman gave Liverpool a 2-0 lead with two superb individual goals, then Bolton hit back with a brilliant volley from Alan Thompson but it wasn't enough to prevent Liverpool from lifting the trophy.
The two sides met again in the League Cup 4th Round at Anfield in 2003, which was the last time they have played in a cup competition. Bolton took an early lead through Mario Jardel and held on for over an hour until Danny Murphy's equaliser, his first goal for the club. Bolton regained the lead on 79 minutes through the man so good they named him twice, Jay-Jay Okocha, only for Liverpool to again level through Vladimir Smicer. But Wanderers had the last laugh as Youri Djorkaeff tucked away a last minute penalty to steal it 3-2.
Leading the Liverpool line on that day in 2003 was a certain Emile Heskey. Wanderers fans will be hoping big Emile can roll back the years and inspire Bolton to yet another cup victory on his old stamping ground in the FA Cup 4th Round on Saturday.