On 9th March 1946, over 85,000 people piled into Burnden Park.
Eager football fans had gathered at Bolton Wanderers’ former home ground for the club’s highly-anticipated second-leg clash against Stoke City in the Sixth Round of the FA Cup, but not long after kick-off, the crowd began spilling onto the pitch and the game was temporarily stopped as the pitch was cleared.
However, at this time, two barriers collapsed and the crowd fell forward, crushing those underneath.
The crush resulted in injuries to hundreds of Bolton fans and the devastating deaths of 33 people, making it the deadliest stadium-related disaster in British history, until the Ibrox Park disaster in 1971.
The disaster happened at the ‘Railway End’ of the ground – which closed in 1997 – where, in common with many other post-war grounds, facilities were rudimentary and the bank was crude, with just dirt and odd flagstones for steps, and although there was room towards the Burnden side of the ground, part of the stand had been requisitioned by the Ministry of Supply and had not yet been returned to normal use following the war.
Additionally, the turnstiles at the east end of the Railway Embankment – which adjoined the Burnden Stand – had also been closed since 1940.
As was common practice back then, fans paid at the turnstiles to enter, rather than buy tickets beforehand, but as a result of this, the end became packed and over capacity and it was decided to close the turnstiles at 2:40pm.
This did not stop more people entering the ground though.
Desperate to catch a glimpse of the game, people began climbing in from the railway, climbing over the closed turnstiles and, when a locked gate was opened, entering through it. This lead to pressure from the ‘Railway End’ and meant that many fans were “inexorably pushed” along the side of the pitch, around the far end and eventually right out of the ground, before inevitably spilling onto the pitch itself.
Once the pitch was cleared, the game was restarted, but quickly halted again when a police officer came onto the pitch to speak to the referee to inform him there had been a fatality.
Despite this, the game was still allowed to continue under what were described as “sickening” circumstances.
It ended in a goalless draw.
But the score meant nothing in light of the tragic event, which is still known to the people of Bolton and Stoke, the wider Greater Manchester community and football fans across the globe as one of the “greatest tragedies in football history”.
The disaster directly lead to a subsequent official report published by lawyer and MP, Moelwyn Hughes, which recommended more rigorous control of crowd sizes, and a conference on the licensing and regulation of sports grounds where it was recommended that, as a voluntary code, local authorities should inspect grounds with a capacity of 10,000 spectators. It was also agreed safety 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.
The aftermath of the event may have meant that positive, necessary and life-saving change was brought about for the future, but tragedy still remains and the victims of that dreadful day in 1946 will nevertheless, always be remembered.
Today, 75 years on, Bolton Wanderers will mark this “poignant day” in history.
? Today is a poignant day in the history of Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
75 years ago, 33 supporters attended a match at Burnden Park and never returned home. We shall remember them. pic.twitter.com/VzF3NrfEWD
When the team faces Cambridge United in a League Two clash at their home ground – the University of Bolton Stadium – this evening, a minute’s silence will be observed and the players will wear black armbands.
The club is also releasing a series of videos about the disaster on their social media channels during the day, a book of remembrance will be displayed outside the ground and a special matchday programme has been produced to mark the anniversary.
Outside the ground, the flags will fly at half mast and wreaths will be laid before the game kicks off.
The current Bolton squad are well-aware of the disaster’s significance on its 75th anniversary, with Wanderers manager, Ian Evatt, aiming to mark the occasion with a win, saying: “It’s absolutely heartbreaking to think that people went to watch a football match and didn’t go home again.
“That is really, really heartbreaking and sad.”
He continued: “For the 75th anniversary, we want to go out there and perform to the level to give them the respect and the memory that they deserve and that’s as far as it goes.
“We understand the importance of it, we understand the importance of the occasion, and we want to go out there and win. The players are all aware of it, of course… [and] want to go out there and perform to the best levels they can for a number of reasons, and that is the main reason.
“We can’t forget and we never will forget.
“Those 33 names will live long in the memory of this football club as part of our existence and rightly so”.
A Salford man is running 365km in a heartwarming marathon challenge on behalf of The Christie
A man from Salford is taking on the extraordinary challenge of running 365km over the course of 365 days and eight marathons, all on behalf of The Christie.
Approaching his 36th birthday, Connor Robinson from Worsley had always had a huge desire to do something positive in his life and after his best friend suffered a loss in the family, he was determined to help in any way he could.
With that in mind, the Salfordian decided to set himself the challenge of running 365km in 365 days across the span of eight and a half marathons around Europe to raise money for The Christie Charity.
Connor is running 365km in 365 days as part of an immense eight-and-a-half marathon challenge. (Credit: Supplied)
The initial inspiration for this challenge came from Connor’s best friend Jack Prady, whose mum Tracy was treated at The Christie Hospital here in Manchester and sadly died of bowel cancer in April 2020.
Jack went on to set up the TP23 Foundation in memory of her and ran an incredible 252 miles, raising more than £30,000 for the beloved local charity and cancer treatment facility.
Inspired by his best mate’s accomplishment, Connor felt that he wanted to “do his bit” and help contribute to the fantastic fundraising that Jack had done. And it’s that classic thing, isn’t it? If your mate does something impressive, you can’t help but want to match.
That being said, Robinson set himself the huge goal of taking on not just one marathon but eight — plus an extra half-marathon for good measure — all around Europe to complete the set.
Having never been a runner, the property director knew that completing even one marathon would be a challenge for him, but seeing what his friend Jack had already achieved for such a great cause and in his mother’s memory was more than enough to spur Connor on.
The two local lads putting in the graft.
Then, just 10 weeks into his 18-week training programme on 10 January this year, Connor’s own dad, Wayne Robinson, was also sadly diagnosed with a type of throat cancer.
A non-smoker and drinker, Wayne’s cancer was unfortunately caused by the HPV virus. Having now started treatment at The Christie, receiving daily radiotherapy and chemotherapy, Connor has all the more motivation to take on the challenge.
“Whilst I am running this challenge in Jack’s mum Tracy’s memory, it is also for every single person who’s ever needed the remarkable services provided by The Christie – especially my dad”, explained Connor. “When starting this challenge, I wanted to take it across Europe and spread the name and awareness of The Christie not just throughout the North West but the whole of the UK and beyond!
“There’s probably no other family I have been closer to over the last 15+ years than the Pradys and I have seen first-hand the immediate and long-lasting impact cancer has on loved ones, but also how much needed and invaluable the treatment and care received by The Christie was.”
Connor’s friends and family will be following his journey and supporting him along the way and, like a best mate would, Jack has even vowed to run every marathon with him.
Their first marathon together will be on Sunday, 10 March in Barcelona and Connor will be documenting their journey on Instagram, @letsrunwithconnor.
So far, Connor has raised over £3,000 just through his training runs with Jack, which is 90% of the initial target of £3600. Their eight marathons will take place in Barcelona, right here in Manchester this April; Leeds, Edinburgh, Chester, Dublin, Athens and Valencia, with the final half marathon still to be decided.
You can donate to Connor 365km in 365 days marathon fundraiser HERE and wish you all the best of luck, lads — go and smash it!
These two aren’t the only Greater Mancunians who are taking on multiple marathons on behalf of the vital NHS Foundation Trust this year.
Unsurprisingly, this latest example of Bruno Fernandes‘ diving has been labelled everything from “shocking” and “embarrassing” to “pathetic” and “ridiculous”, as well as being accused of cheating online from various fan bases and even some of his own supporters.
It’s hard to argue with any of those descriptions either, especially when this is by no means the first time he’s come under fire for similar behaviour. This isn’t even the first time we’ve written about it, having been hit with almost identical adjectives based on last season’s performances too.
The 29-year-old Portuguese midfielder remains one of Man United and the Premier League’s most creative players but as one commenter put it: “Moments like these are why Bruno Fernandes get disrespected by rival fans and referees hardly take him seriously… a cheating sore loser to a lot”.
Replying to the original clip, another account wrote: “Players like this make refereeing the game nigh on impossible. This stuff needs calling out every week by pundits, regardless of who it is or what club they play for” — and it seems many others would also back the idea of retrospective punishment for diving.
You can go back throughout his time at Old Trafford to find plenty of other examples of his simulation and while it is part of football, it’s one of the biggest criticisms levelled against the sport and far from what makes it ‘the beautiful game’.
Fernandes is just a drop in the ocean when it comes to the countless players trying to con the referee around the world week in and week out, but this almost chronic level of diving being highlighted on the biggest stage does pose the question of whether more needs to be done to crack down on it after the fact?
You can watch the highlights of Man United’s 1-2 loss to Fulham at home down below: