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Bolton Wanderers: My Top 5 Memorable Moments

After being challenged on the old Twitter - Matt sent in his top 5

Michael Steele/Getty Images

After doubting Fabian De Freitas' place awarded in 'top 5 worst foreign players' on the basis of his two goals in the '95 play off final being a hugely significant moment for the club, the challenge has been laid down...

5. John McGinlay's penalty vs Preston North End (1992/93)

Playing in what was then the 'new' Division Two (League One these days), Bolton Wanderers were emerging from the dark days of the 1980's that even featured a solitary year in the basement division in front of ever dwindling crowds at Burnden Park.

The contribution of Phil Neal is one that is often debated, but it was his side that came close to promotion with a play off final defeat to Tranmere two years previously.

However, a disappointing 1991/92 season saw him pay the price with his job and the subsequent appointment of one Bruce Rioch, a man who quite literally took the club to another level. With him he brought a certain Keith Branagan and John McGinlay, who at opposite ends of the field (with a bit of help in between them) took Bolton to the brink of a return to the second tier of English football for the first time in a decade.

The season featured the legendary 'White Hot' win at FA Cup holders Liverpool, but would culminate in the ultimate reward of the second promotion spot behind champions Stoke City, with McGinlay's penalty against Preston sealing a 1-0 win and promotion in front of over 20,000 at Burnden Park. The modern era begins.

4. THAT play off final against Reading (1994/95)

If McGinlay's penalty two years previously heralded a new era for the club, then the play off final win against Reading dragged it kicking and screaming in to the pre-Euro 96 world of the still relatively youthful Premier League.

All looked lost inside the first 12 minutes, 2-0 down and rabbits in the headlights against a Reading side who finished in second spot but weren't automatically promoted because of the Premier League being reduced in numbers. However, from the moment Keith Branagan saved a Stuart Lovell penalty on 34 minutes, you just sort of knew we'd win.

I sometimes wonder what the mood would have been had that game happened nowadays, and somehow I doubt the mood would have been quite so positive, especially when you consider it took 75 minutes for us to even halve the deficit thanks to Owen Coyle (whatever happened to him?) before the much-maligned Fabian De Freitas took the game in to extra time with a rocket of an equaliser. Weirdly, I always recall that goal for the ball getting stuck in those weird stanchions in the netting that you could instantly recognise as being at Wembley.

Reading were out on their feet, and extra time goals from Mixu Paatelainen and a second from De Freitas sealed promotion, despite a late consolation from Jimmy Quinn. Although he cost what was at the time quite a hefty transfer fee (and arguably one we probably can't afford two decades later), I reckon playing such a part in sealing promotion meant that De Freitas effectively paid for himself.

3. Gerry Taggart's disallowed goal vs Everton

Yes, I'm still bitter about it. Very bitter. I suppose if you track long enough along the timeline then I suppose you could say that if we hadn't got relegated that season then the financial problems which saw Per Frandsen sold under Colin Todd's nose and ultimately lead to his resignation might never have happened, we might never have appointed Sam Allardyce and consequently would never have seen Okocha, Djorkaeff, Hierro, Anelka or Blessing Kaku in a Bolton shirt. However, alternate timelines are for Michael J Fox to deal with so I'm going straight to the route of the cause. How on earth did it take nigh on twenty years for goal line technology to be introduced?!

It could have all been so different had that goal been given.

And we would also be heralding the angry Northern Irishman forever more rather than having to wait until the end of October for a first win at the Reebok on one of those rare occasions that Dean Holdsworth put his boots on the right feet.

2. Bayern Munich 2-2 Bolton Wanderers

I'm going to admit this straight out and say that I wasn't in Munich. I'd become a parent for the first time only two months previously so, yeah, no chance. An early dart from work to get home in time for watching the game on Channel 5 and feeling like I was the only Bolton fan left on these shores as I recognised face after face with each and every crowd shot.

It could be said that beating Atletico Madrid over two legs was a greater achievement, but getting a draw in the Allianz footballing cathedral is understandably the one that everyone talks about.

Although it was that ginger bloke in the dugout, I'm sure Sam Allardyce was watching on telly with a smile on his face after all of his groundwork in the previous years. Even Colin Todd could claim to have played his part given the fact he was the one who signed Ricardo Gardner, scorer of the first goal.

It was fitting that Gardner and Kevin Davies were the goal scorers that night given the years of service the pair of them gave to the club.

I wonder if it's Kahn, Lucio, Franck Ribery, Toni Kroos, Mark Van Bommel, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Lukas Podolski, Luca Toni or Miroslav Klose that has a framed Michalik, McCann, Braaten or Cid shirt hanging in their living room?

1. 1958 FA Cup win

Although it's an ever decreasing number of those who played in the game or were there to witness it, this one has to be our number one, purely because it's what we all aspire to, isn't it? Although 'that club down the road' have joined Portsmouth in putting the theory in to practice about an FA Cup win being worth umpteen relegations, we've all been brought up on the images and stories of that Wembley afternoon in 1958.

As much as the European runs are a great water mark for the modern era, Jared Borgetti scoring against Plovdiv isn't going to be adorning the walls of McDonald's in 50 years time.