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Stadium History

A detailed overview of Bolton Wanderers Football Club's permanent homes since its original foundation in 1874. For club history click HERE and for club honours click HERE.

Having spent the formative years of their existence playing on a variety of locations in the Bolton area, Bolton Wanderers moved to Pikes Lane in 1881.

Spending £150 on pitch improvements upon their arrival, season tickets cost a guinea and the Whites proceeded to play at this venue for 14 years until the tenancy expired.

In 1888 meanwhile, this particular ground became a part of history as Kenny Davenport scored the first ever Football League goal against Derby County at 3.47pm on September 8, 1888.

This fact only came to light meanwhile in 2013 when football author Mark Metcalf and librarian Robert Boyling discovered that the kick-off had been delayed in Aston Villa’s game against Wolverhampton Wanderers – a match in which Gershom Cox’s own goal was deemed to be the first in the league’s history.

In November 2016, a special blue plaque was unveiled on the side of Lostock Electricals Projects Company on Bankfield Street.

Situated in the Burnden area of Bolton on Manchester Road approximately one mile from the centre of the town, the ground served as the home of Bolton Wanderers for 102 years.

Opened in 1895, the stadium itself hosted competitive football in all four of English football’s divisions and in its heyday, could hold up to 70,000 spectators.

Sadly however, Burnden Park’s most well-known event was one of tragedy as in 1946, 33 supporters perished at an FA Cup quarter-final tie against Stoke City with the ground hugely over capacity for the fixture.

In the wake of this particular incident however – at the time the worst in British football in regards to lives lost – more rigorous rules and restrictions were put in place for football clubs to avoid a repeat of such an accident.

Burnden’s capacity was reduced meanwhile during the final 20 years of the club’s residency at the ground as a section of The Embankment was sold off in the late 1980s to make way for a Normid superstore.

And in 1992, the club’s directors decided that it would be too difficult to convert Burnden Park into an all-seater stadium and a decision was made to build a new stadium outside of the town itself.

Wanderers’ final game at their old home was a Division One clash with Charlton Athletic on April 25, 1997 – a match which Bolton ran out 4-1 winners in to ensure that Burnden Park ended its life on a high.

Wanderers’ current home was opened in August 1997 and boasted an all-seated capacity of 28,723 – a far cry from Burnden Park’s dilapidated terraces. A hotel, now known as Bolton Whites Hotel, was added in 2000.

Named as the Reebok Stadium and situated five miles outside of Bolton town centre in Horwich, the ground hosted its first game – a Premiership meeting with Everton on September 1, 1997.

A game shrouded in controversy as Gerry Taggart appeared to see a perfectly legitimate goal not given, it was a match which would go down in the history books for all the wrong reasons as the club suffered relegation on goal difference come the end of 1997/98.

In the years that followed however, numerous greats of the game graced the Reebok turf with World Cup winner Youri Djorkeff, Nigerian wizard Jay-Jay Okocha and former Real Madrid stars Ivan Campo and Fernando Hierro just a handful of the famous figures to don the white shirt.

Hosting its first ever UEFA Cup game against Lokomotiv Plovdiv in September 2005, outside of football the venue has also been used for numerous music concerts involving acts such as Elton John, P!nk, Coldplay and Oasis amongst many others.

In recent years, the stadium even underwent a name-change as a four-year sponsorship deal was agreed with Italian sportswear company Macron in 2013, while it is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2017.

On the Wednesday 1 August 2018, the football club entered into a partnership with the University of Bolton which saw its home become the University of Bolton Stadium.