Today is a day in the history of Bolton as a town and as a club that will never be forgotten as we remember those who tragically lost their lives in the Burnden Park Disaster.
On 9 March 1946, Wanderers were playing at home in an FA Cup quarter-final second-leg tie against Stoke City in front of an estimated crowd of 85,000.
Devastatingly, events of that day meant Burnden Park became the scene of the worst tragedy in British football history at that time, as 33 Bolton Wanderers’ fans were crushed to death and many more had life-changing injuries.
Remarkably, the game was allowed to finish with a 0-0 draw seeing Wanderers progress 2-0 on aggregate to the semi-finals. The report that followed recommended more rigorous control of crowd sizes, regulation of sports grounds, turnstiles able to mechanically record spectator numbers and the introduction of internal telephone systems at football stadiums.
“Even now I often talk to people who remember a relative being at the game and anxiety in the family as the news broke - waiting the safe return of their loved ones from the match, many of whom did not even realise that such a tragedy had unfolded,” said Phil Mason, CEO of Bolton Wanderers in the Community and Club Chaplain.
“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.”
The club’s Book of Remembrance remains open at the front of the stadium where the names of those who died are listed.
And at our Annual Service of Remembrance and Thanksgiving at the end of the season, to be held on 10th May, we shall pause to remember those that died in this tragedy and light candles in their memory.
We shall never forget them.
Harry Ratcliffe Birtwistle
John Thomas Blackshaw
Fred Price Dearden
Albert Edward Hanrahan
John Thomas Lucas
Harry Unsworth Needham