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Played For Both Clubs: Oxford United vs Bolton Wanderers - Neil Whatmore

A look at the career of a Bolton Wanderers legend

Bob Thomas/Getty Images

Ahead of tonight's game, here's a look at the career of former Oxford United striker and Bolton Wanderers legend, Neil Whatmore.

Neil Whatmore, born 17th May 1955, began his footballing career at Bolton Wanderers in 1973.

Whatmore made his Wanderers debut on 4th April 1973, scoring twice as Wanderers beat Swansea City 3-2 away. The win proved vital as Bolton were promoted to Division 2 at the end of the 1972/1973 season.

Playing alongside the likes of Paul Jones, Peter Reid, Sam Allardyce, Garry Jones, John Byrom and Roy Greaves, Whatmore became an integral part of a Wanderers side flooded with talent.

The arrival of Ian Greaves as manager in 1974 kick started Wanderers' rise up the football league.

In both the 1975/1976 and 1976/1977 seasons, Wanderers narrowly missed out on promotion to the top flight, finishing 4th both seasons. Whatmore, now a mainstay in Wanderers' starting line-up, ended both seasons as top goalscorer, with 13 goals in 1976 and an impressive 31 goals in 1977.

The arrival of Frank Worthington and the continuation of Whatmore's scintillating form in front of goal finally lead Wanderers to being promoted to Division 1 in 1978. Whatmore again finished as top goalscorer with 21 goals.

Whatmore's penalty seals a Bolton win in the League Cup in 1977
Bolton News

In the top flight, Ian Greaves chose Alan Gowling and Frank Worthington as his striking partnership, with Whatmore pushed into midfield for the season. As Worthington went on to score 26 goals, including that goal against Ipswich Town, Neil Whatmore only managed three league goals in 29 games. Wanderers would go on to finish 17th in the 1978/1979 season. In case you didn't know, Chelsea finished rock bottom that season.

When Frank Worthington departed midway into the 1979/1980 season to Birmingham City, Whatmore became Bolton's main striking threat once more. Even though Whatmore managed 16 league goals, he couldn't prevent Wanderers from the drop. That season, Wanderers only manged five league wins from the forty-two they played.

Whatmore scores during Bolton's 2-2 against Manchester City in 1980

Neil Whatmore would stay a further year with Wanderers in Divison 2, before moving on to join Birmingham City for a fee of £350,000.

Reunited with Frank Worthington, the pair failed to recapture the form from their Bolton days.

After only six league goals in nearly a year and a half, Whatmore first went to Oxford United on loan, before returning to Bolton on loan for his second spell with the club. Whatmore scored three league goals for Bolton in the 1982/1983 season. Whatmore was then sold to Oxford United in 1983.

Whatmore spent eighteen months with Oxford, then in Division Three, scoring fifteen league goals.

Whatmore celebrates after scoring against Newcastle United in the League Cup

After falling out of favour, Whatmore returned to Burnden Park on loan for this third spell with Bolton in the 1983/1984 season.

Wanderers were now in Division Three after relegation the season prior. Neil Whatmore scored two more goals in a Wanderers shirt before moving to Burnley on a permanent basis in 1984. Whatmore only lasted a few months at Turf Moor, moving to Mansfield Town towards the end of 1984.

Neil Whatmore had a more productive spell with The Stags, scoring 20 league goals in two and a half years, before moving back to Burnden Park for his fourth spell with Bolton.

This time the move was funded by an anonymous fan, who paid Whatmore's wages. Sadly, Neil Whatmore wouldn't play again for Bolton. In four spells totalling eleven years, Neil Whatmore scored 121 goals in 338 games. He's the ninth highest goalscorer in Wanderers' history, and in 2005 he was voted the 33rd greatest player to put on a White shirt.

Whatmore returned to Mansfield, and went on to have short spells at Worksop Town and Eastwood Town before retiring in 1989.