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102 Years of Burnden Park: Part Three

Eddie continues with his look at Burnden Park

Burnden Park in the 70's

The 25th April 2017 marks twenty years since the last game at Burnden Park, the former home of Bolton Wanderers.

Many Wanderers fans will have begun their love affair with the club watching the likes of Nat Lofthouse, Frank Worthington or John McGinlay grace the Burnden turf.

For 102 years, Bolton Wanderers called Burnden home, so here's a look at the entire history of Burnden; from construction to demolition.

Here's part three.

Post Lofthouse blues/ The not so swinging sixties

After Nat Lofthouse retired in 1960 due to a persistent ankle injury, Bolton Wanderers weren't the same. Without their influential leader on the pitch, Wanderers stagnated. In Lofthouse's last season (1959/1960), Bolton finished an impressive sixth in the table. Just four years later, Wanderers were relegated to Divison Two, ending a twenty-nine year stay in the top flight.

The relegation was confirmed on 29th April 1964, when Bolton were hammered 4-0 against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Burnden.

Things weren't all doom and gloom. Wanderers had Lofthouse's natural successor up front, Franny Lee, to lead the charge back to Division One. Just one year later, Bill Ridding's men almost achieved it. Lee, partnered alongside Welsh international Wyn Davies, helped Wanderers to finish third, just one place away from promotion.

Sadly, that's the closest Wanderers would come in returning to the top flight. Wyn Davies and Franny Lee departed for Newcastle United and Manchester City respectively, causing the Whites to further slip down the Division Two table.

Not even Nat Lofthouse's two year spell as manager could get Wanderers out of the slump, and they were subsequently relegated in 1971. For the first time in the club’s history, Wanderers would be playing in the third division.

Ian Greaves' Children of the Revolution

The man given the task of getting Wanderers back up the leagues was former Blackpool FC and England defender, Jimmy Armfield. It was Armfield's first managerial job since retiring, and thanks to the goals of John Byrom, achieved promotion in his second season. The Whites were crowned champions of Division Three on April 21st 1973 after a 3-0 win against York City.

Armfield would depart after the following season to replace Brian Clough at Leeds United.

His assistant, former Manchester United player Ian Greaves, was given the job in his place.

What followed was one of the brightest periods in the clubs' history. Greaves inherited an unbelievable team. Sam Allardyce, Paul Jones, Tony Dunne, Peter Reid, Peter Thompson, Willie Morgan, Roy Greaves, Neil Whatmore to name a few.

One of Greaves' greatest achievements, as well as one of the best moments to happen at Burnden, was the Semi-Final of the League Cup in 1977. In front of a crowd of over 50,000, Bolton lost 1-0 to high flyers Everton.

Burnden Park also underwent changes in the seventies. The floodlights were updated in 1975, whilst fences were installed behind the two goals.

Ian Greaves had taken Wanderers ever so close to promotion in 1976 and 1977, finishing 4th in both seasons. Wanderers needed that special something to tip them over, so in stepped Frank Worthington.

Bought from Leicester City in 1977, Worthington scored the goal to give Wanderers promotion to Division One.

Wanderers went up as Champions, and were finally back in the top flight fourteen years after relegation in the sixties.

Worthington's best season in a white shirt came in the 1978/1979 season. Bolton finished 17th, straying away from the relegation places (Chelsea finished rock bottom that season). On a personal level, Worthington scored 24 goals, which was enough for Worthington to win the Golden Boot. Worthington is the last Wanderers player to top the goal scoring charts in the Top Flight.

Among those 24 goals was one that came in a 3-2 defeat against Ipswich Town at Burnden Park in April 1979. Arguably one of the greatest ever goals scored by a Bolton player (and surely the greatest seen at Burnden Park), Worthington flicked the ball over his head, before volleying the ball into the corner of the goal. Just beautiful.

Behind the goal that day doing his job as a ball boy was future Wanderers legend, Julian Darby.

Unfortunately, the good times wouldn't last forever...