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102 Years of Burnden Park: Part Four

The last part of Eddie's long and detailed look at Bolton's former home

Bolton celebrate

The 25th April 2017 marked 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 the fourth and final part.

Over before it really began

Just two years after gaining promotion to the top flight as Division Two Champions in 1978, Wanderers were relegated. The eighties wasn't the best decade for Wanderers.

Undersoil heating was installed at Burnden Park in 1980 for £70,000, although that was the only thing heating up at the time.

Bolton were in a rut, due in part to losing their best players. The likes of Allardyce, Jones, Whatmore and Worthington, who had played integral parts in Wanderers' rise to the top, all departed during the early part of the decade.

In 1983, just three years after being in Division One, Wanderers found themselves once again in Division Three.

That being said, it wasn't all doom and gloom in 1983.

Tony Caldwell's five star performance

Despite an average 10th place finish in the 1983/1984, one of the greatest moments at Burnden Park happened thanks to striker Tony Caldwell.

Tony Caldwell, then 25, was signed in 1983 from non-league side Horwich RMI for £2,000.

On 10th September 1983, Tony Caldwell scored five of Bolton’s goals as the Trotters thumped Walsall 8-1 at Burnden. No Bolton player has scored more in a single game.

Moments like Caldwell's heroics were few. Wanderers finished 17th and 18th in 1985 and 1986 respectively.

Although, despite a poor finish in the league in 1986, Wanderers made it to the final of the Freight Rover Trophy Final, beating Wigan Athletic 2-1 at Burnden Park to secure a place at Wembley.

Tony Caldwell and George Oghani got the goals to send Wanderers to Wembley for the first time since the Lofthouse final of 1958. Unfortunately, Bolton lost 3-0 against Bristol City in the final.

Livin' On a Prayer: Normid to the rescue

By 1986, Bolton Wanderers had fallen on hard times financially. In a desperate attempt to save the club, it was decided that a section of the Embankment end would be sold off to United Co-operatives (the co-op). The land would become the co-op's flagship Normid Superstore.

The controversial deal saved the club, but Burnden wouldn't be the same again.

Normid even became the club's main shirt sponsor until 1990.

Rock Bottom

The 1986/1987 season was quite possibly the worst in Bolton Wanderers' history. The Normid monstrosity was taking shape, whilst on the pitch, Bolton were awful.

The club finished 21st in Division Three (winning just ten from forty-two games), meaning Wanderers would play in the fourth tier of English football for the first time.

Luckily, Wanderers were promoted back to Division Three just one year later, mainly due to the goal scoring form of John Thomas, who hit the back of the net twenty-eight times.

In May 1992, the then manager Phil Neal was sacked. Neal had led Wanderers to the Division Three Play-Offs in 1990 and 1991. However, results had wavered in the 1991/1992 season, and as a result Bolton finished a lowly thirteenth.

The man to replace Phil Neal is regarded as one of the greatest managers in Bolton's history...

White Hot

Bruce Rioch took charge for the 1992/1993 season, and quickly made changes. Future club legends Keith Branagan and John McGinlay were brought in from Rioch's former club Millwall.

Rioch had instant success as Wanderers manager. You all know about the 'White Hot' FA Cup days, but this is about Burnden.

May 8th 1993. Bolton Wanderers, somewhat like this weekend, needed a result against Preston North End to clinch promotion to Division One (now the 2nd tier thanks to the Premier League). In front of over 21,000 at Burnden, Super John McGinlay buried a second half penalty to send the Wanderers fans delirious.

That season, Andy Walker and John McGinlay scored a staggering 55 goals between them.

A special mention goes to Dave 'Ding Dong Do' Higson, the voice of Bolton Wanderers during the late 80's and 90's. I'm sure a lot of you reading this would have interacted with Dave in some fashion. Seeing as I was only born in 1995, my only memory of Dave was a Roadrunner VHS tape of the 1993/1994 Bolton Wanderers season. What a legend though.

Rioch and the White Hot Wanderers finished 14th in Divison One the next season, before taking one step further in 1995.

Finishing 3rd in the table ensured Wanderers would go through to the Play-Offs against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Bolton lost the first leg at Molineux 1-0, but it was a different story at Burnden Park.

Needing a big result, the Wanderers players delivered. Bolton won the game 2-0, with Super John scoring both the goals.

Wanderers were promoted to the Premier League after a thrilling 4-3 victory against Reading FC at Wembley. It's regarded as one of the greatest Play-Off finals, and with good reason. Bolton were 2-0 down early on, which could have easily been three, had Keith Branagan not saved from the penalty spot.

Burnden Park and the Premier League

Wanderers would only spend one year in the Premier League whilst at Burnden. The season was one to forget.

Bruce Rioch had departed to take the Arsenal job, and the Bolton board decided to place Colin Todd and Roy McFarland as joint managers. The experiment failed and as a result, Wanderers finished rock bottom with just eight wins.

A rare highlight was this delightful chip from John McGinlay against Middlesbrough at Burnden Park.

Bye Bye Burnden

Back in 1992, it was decided that if Bolton Wanderers had aspirations of returning to the Premier League, a new stadium would be needed. The club's directors had decided that it would be difficult to convert Burnden Park into an all-seater stadium for a club of Bolton's ambition.

Wanderers were all set to move to the Reebok Stadium in time for the 1997/1998 season.

Bolton definitely said goodbye to Burnden the right way. Colin Todd's men took the league by storm, winning Division One by achieving 98 points whilst scoring 100 goals.

There were plenty of memorable moments as well. In the League Cup, Wanderers hit Tottenham Hotspur for six, whilst John McGinlay ended up in goal after Keith Branagan was sent off for a game against Reading. Super John kept a clean sheet as well, what a hero.

Wanderers also beat Swindon Town 7-0 at Burnden. In fact, Bolton won their last six league games at Burnden Park.

There was also the famous 'Battle of Burnden' against Wolves. Chris wrote a great summary of that game a couple of years ago, which you can read by clicking here.

Wanderers played their last game at Burnden on 25th April 1997. In front of 21,880 people, including famous fans and former legendary players, Bolton Wanderers beat Charlton Athletic 4-1. John McGinlay would score the final two goals ever at Burnden.

On the request of Nat Lofthouse, one of the penalty spots from Burnden was dug up and planted at The Reebok.

So, there you go. 102 years of Burnden Park, from construction to demolition.

Wanderers were off to The Reebok, and this was only the beginning...