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FA Cup Memories: Bolton Wanderers 3-2 Gretna

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Apologies for using #EmiratesFACup - I didn't even know that was a thing

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Ahead of Bolton Wanderers' troubling trip to Eastleigh this weekend in some competition now entitled the Emirates FA Cup (the fuck is that all about) I thought it might be interesting to look back at a famous Wanderers FA Cup outing of recent years - and one against non-league opposition.

Not only content in playing in an English competition, the Scottish border town side, then playing in the second division of the Northern Premier League, they made it through no fewer than five qualifying ties to reach the first-round proper of the FA Cup.

Wanderers were enjoying their first season back in the First Division for nine years following promotion under the leadership of the great Bruce Rioch. The season before, we had made waves by knocking out Liverpool with a famous 2-0 win at Anfield with goals from Andy Walker and John McGinlay.

Gretna were, interestingly, drawn out of the hat first - with Wanderers as the designated away side. However, in those days it was common for teams to switch venues in order to secure a better payday.

And so it was, in front of a crowd of 6,447, the non-leaguers arrived at Burnden Park expecting to be overrun by their more illustrious opposition who contained names such as Alan Stubbs, Alan Thompson and Jason McAteer.

In the great tradition of the FA Cup, which has been sold to Emirates Airlines by our beloved Football Association, the minnows paid no heed to the reputations of their opponents and raced into an early lead, being 2-1 up after half an hour.

Gretna then held the lead until the 79th minute, when table tennis fan Owen Coyle equalised. Coyle then headed home Supa John's cross five minutes later to secure a 3-2 win for Rioch's men.

Coyle later said:

"We were one very relieved team in the dressing room after the game, I don't know if we were complacent that day, but Gretna played brilliantly and we were in trouble and certainly pushed the panic button.

As it turned out, we went on to have another brilliant run in the FA Cup that season which just shows you the fine line there is between success and failure in cup football."

It was a famous day in the history of Gretna Football Club, and it could well have been a disastrous one in the annals of Bolton Wanderers.

We went on to beat Everton, Arsenal and Aston Villa in that year's FA Cup, only losing in the Sixth Round at home to Oldham Athletic. Golden days indeed.