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Burnden Park was the home of Englishmarker FA Premier League football team Bolton Wanderers F.C. between 1895 and 1997.

Location

Situated in the Burndenmarker area of Boltonmarker - approximately one mile from the town centre - the ground served as the home of the town's football team for 102 years. It also hosted the replay of the 1901 FA Cup Final, in which Tottenham Hotspur beat Sheffield United 3-1.

History

The railway embankment of Burnden Park was seen in the 1962 film A Kind of Loving, starring Alan Bates and June Ritchie. Part of the Arthur Askey film "The Love Match" was also filmed at Burnden Park in the early 1950s.

In its heyday, Burnden Park could hold crowds of up to 70,000, but this figure was dramatically reduced during the final 20 years of its life, mainly because of new legislation which saw virtually all English stadia reduce their capacities for safety reasons. A section of the embankment was sold off in 1986 to make way for a new Normid superstore (which had closed by the end of the 1990s). At this time, Bolton were in a dire position financially and were struggling in the Football League Third Division, so there was a low demand for tickets and the loss of part of the ground gave the Bolton directors good value for money.

The majority of the support was on the two wing stands: the Manchester ("Manny") Road and Burnden Paddocks. From the Burnden Stand and Paddock the superstore was on the right and the stand was divided 75:25 between home and away supporters, until a temporary stand was erected for away supporters immediately in front of Normid in 1995, meaning that away fans were allocated the entire embankment, along with this temporary stand, that ensured the entire Burnden Stand was reallocated to Wanderers' supporters only. The more vocal fans liked to sit and stand nearest the away fans to taunt them and occasionally the more sober-behaving Manchester Road fans, usually with the chant "Manny, Manny give us a wave! Give us a wave!". But the club's directors had decided by 1992 that it would be difficult to convert Burnden Park into an all-seater stadium for a club of Bolton's ambition. They were members of the new Division Two (which was known as the Third Division until the creation of the Premier League) but the club had ambitions to reach the top flight.

The last ever Wanderers game played at the historic ground was against Charlton Athletic in April 1997. Bolton, who were already Division One champions, defeated Charlton 4-1 after being 1-0 down at half time. Whites' legend John McGinlay scored the final goal shortly before Bolton received their trophy and the crowd united in singing Auld Lang Syne.

It was decided to build a new multi-million pound 25,000-seater stadium (later raised to 28,000) - the Reebok Stadiummarker - at the Middlebrookmarker development and the move went ahead in 1997, despite the sadness of many fans. For some years, the site suffered. Travellers camped in the car park of the derelict Normid superstore and Burnden Park itself fell into disrepair. As one of the main routes into town, the site needed to be redeveloped.

Burnden Park Disaster

Burnden Park was also the scene of the Burnden Park Disaster. On 9 March, 1946, during a Football Association Challenge Cup (FA Cup) quarter-final second-leg tie between Bolton Wanderers and Stoke City, crowd congestion led to 33 Bolton Wanderers spectators losing their lives through compressive asphyxia and hundreds suffering injuries in a crowd estimated to be in excess of 85,000 people . The disaster was the greatest tragedy in British football history, until the Ibrox Park disaster at Rangers' home ground in 1971.

The disaster led to the Moelwyn Hughes's official report, which recommended limitations on crowd sizes

Today

There is now a large Asda superstore on the site, which opened in 2005 after taking over the Big W. The Asda store identifies itself with Burnden Park by having a number of extremely large photographs of the former stadium and players, placed high above the checkouts. Also on the site are a Co-op travel agents, a Subway restaurant, a Carphone Warehouse and a Johnson's Cleaners adjacent to Manchester Road. A new JJB fitness centre/sports store has also moved here (roughly where the Burnden Stand was), to make a significant, out of town development. There is one empty unit situated between Asda and JJB which was for convertion into three shops and was due to open November 2007 - January 2008, a Poundstretcher, a Pets Galore and an unknown food shop similar to Home Bargains.

References

  1. FA Cup finals - "Bolton" listed under 1901. (The reference to Burnden Park in 1902 is an error)
  2. Burnden Park disaster
  3. MSN Encarta entry on disaster (Subscription needed)



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