Bolton Betting

Originally formed as Christ Church F.C. in 1874, the Club representing Greater Manchester’s Metropolitan Borough of Bolton changed their name in 1877 following a dispute with the vicar regarding team meetings on school property. The players “wandered” over to the Gladstone Hotel to discuss reformation and they have been called the Bolton Wanderers ever since.

The Wanderers soon established themselves at Pikes Lane and became a force within the Lancashire Football Association, winning not only the Lancashire Cup but also the Bolton Charity Cup and Derbyshire Charity Cup in 1885-86. When the Football League was created in 1888, Bolton were invited to join as one of the twelve founding members.

The 1890-91 season brought a second Lancashire Cup home to Bolton. At the conclusion of the 1893-94 season, the Club reached the FA Cup Final, only to be humiliated by a Second Division side, Notts County, by a score of 4-0. The following year, the new Burnden Park stadium was completed, and it would serve as the Wanderers’ home ground for the next 102 years.

Relegation to Division Two in 1898-99 was immediately reconciled by promotion after a second place finish to Sheffield Wednesday in 1899-1900. But retaining Division One status in the new century would prove a challenge to Bolton, who spent three separate turns in the second tier prior to World War I. To make their escape from the lower level, they would win the Division Two title in 1908-09 and claim runners-up status in 1904-05 and 1910-11.

When the first FA Cup Final was played at London’s Wembley Stadium in 1923, Bolton arrived to face West Ham United with King George V on hand to present the trophy to the winning side. The official attendance that April day was 126,047, although the terraces overflowed with uncounted spectators, bringing the estimated crowd to over 300,000.

The underdog Wanderers emerged triumphant by a score of 2-0, taking home their first major piece of silverware. But it would certainly not be their last. Before the decade was over, Bolton had won not just one or two but three FA Cups, adding victories over Manchester City and Portsmouth in 1926 and 1929, respectively.

During the 1930s, the Club slipped out of Division One briefly, but they returned in 1935 to begin a run of 29 consecutive years in the top flight of British football. That period was marked by a Football League North War Cup in 1945 and a fourth FA Cup, which came in 1958 with a 2-0 win over Manchester United. That same year they also defeated the Wolverhampton Wanderers 4-1 for their first and only FA Charity Shield.

Over the next three decades, Bolton saw its share of ups and downs, falling as low as the old Fourth Division by 1987. Their ascent from the basement started with a Division Four championship in 1987-88, included their first Football League Trophy in 1989 and culminated in a Champions League play-off final win over Reading in 1995.

Although the Wanderers tenure in the Premier League lasted just one season, they would go to win their first Championship title in 1996-97 in record-setting fashion, scoring the most points in a season (98), most goals in a season (100) and most wins in a season (28). It was fitting that the Championship trophy was awarded at the final Burnden Park game. In 1997-98, the move was made the Wanderers’ current home at Reebok Stadium.

Relegation in 1998-99 was followed by a return to the Premiership in 2001-02. Three years later, the Club had their best finish in four decades, reaching the eighth spot on the top flight table. Thereafter, the door was open to Bolton’s participation in the UEFA Cup for the first time in its 131-year history and they competed in both 2005-06 and 2006-07, climbing as high as the last 16.

Even though Bolton have never won a top tier championship and their last FA Cup success occurred half a century ago, they can still play the spoiler, as they have against Liverpool and the other Big Four teams on a number of occasions. They also have the knack of rising to the challenge whenever relegation becomes a possibility, so no matter how down the Wanderers may look, it pays to not count them out.

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