Remembering the Burnden Park Disaster on the 73rd Anniversary

Club Chaplain Phil Mason reflects as the club marks the 73rd anniversary of the Burnden Park Disaster...

March 9, 1946 is a day in the history of Bolton as a town and as a club that will never be forgotten.

On this day, Bolton Wanderers were playing at home in an FA Cup quarter final second-leg tie against Stoke City.

The ground became the scene of, at the time, the worst tragedy in British football history, when 33 Wanderers fans were crushed to death and many more had life changing injuries.

It is hard to believe that after the crush, bodies were taken to one side and the game was re-started and concluded that day. 

Even now, I often talk to people who remember a relative being at the game and anxiety in the family as the news broke as the waiting the safe return of their loved ones from the match, many of whom did not even realise that such a tragedy had unfolded before them.

That day there was an estimated 85,000 crammed in for the game, at least 15,000 over-capacity.

The disaster led to an official report, of which I have an original copy in my office. Moelwyn Hughes' official report recommended more rigorous control of crowd sizes.

A conference on the licensing and regulation of sports grounds was also held where it was recommended that, as a voluntary code, local authorities should inspect grounds with a capacity of 10,000 spectators and agreed safely limits should be in place for grounds of more than 25,000 capacity.

Turnstiles should mechanically record spectator numbers and grounds should have internal telephone systems.

We are one of a handful of clubs that stand together in the history of tragedies of this kind. Each disaster must never be forgotten and the people that lost their lives must hold a special place in our memory.

Our Book of Remembrance is open at the front of the University of Bolton Stadium where the names of those who died are listed.

As always, at our Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving at the end of the season, we shall pause to remember those that died in this tragedy and light candles in their memory.

Best wishes,


Read Time: 2 mins