Memories of a Golden Vision.
From: George Costigan
I could probably work out how old I was but it’s irrelevant. I was a Bolton fan and ‘they’ were coming.
The money-bags team. If you had a good game against them – they bought you.
Bolton didn’t ever buy anything or anyone. Home grown, all of ‘em. Proper, reet?
I only remember three things about the game.
This titchy blonde centre-forward (‘ow could he wear a nine when he were a pipe-cleaner? Nat Lofthouse wore 9!), a winger called Scott (who’d cost A FORTUNE) who kept running round our Bolton-born Roy ‘Chopper’ Hartle like he was immobile – and a corner at the railway end with the score at 1-1.
The titchy centre-forward went over to Scott, and clearly asked him to play a short one.
The titchy number 9 then had a sizeable strop, turned his back on Scott and stormed away from him. Oh, the howls of our derision! Money-bags bollocks.
In came the corner to the near-post, and the tiny centre-forward rose, utterly unmarked, to bury his header and run, laughing, back to Scott! Smart Alex. The pair of ‘em.
A season later and Bolton were relegated and I decided standing, dripping, on the terraces, that I didn’t want to watch second division football.
Now, if you’ve grown up in Manchester and get to 15 and you are not a United fan, you CANNOT become one, because by then – you hate them.
You hate that the papers are all in love with them, that the sports pages are like extensions of the United programme, and anyway their fans were an utterly pompous nightmare (some things never change) so, I decide to hitch-hike the 28 miles down the East Lancs Road and watch the new crowned champions of England.
First day, brand new season, August, shirt-sleeves, glorious.
The bloke who gave me a lift dropped me at the end of Gwladys Street and, first time ever in Liverpool, I walked towards a place and a spec that would become like home to me.
Roy Vernon got a hat-trick, we won 4-1 but ,the titchy blonde centre-forward not only caught my eye, but he was transparently the favourite of everyone around me.
The man could play like no-one around him.
I fell in love with him, with the crowd, the craic, but most of all with a set of fans (The School of Science fans) devoted to the higher things in football – and on his night, none higher than this man.
Couple of seasons later and Sheff Wed beat us at their place and their fans were chanting, ‘Easy – easy’ at us.
They were at Goodison the following Tuesday night.
Bunked off work early – got there – got my spec and watched Fred Pickering score twice but, Alex Young score his only hat-trick.
A hat-trick of such sublime skill and artistry we were crying with joy when he thumped in his third. Joy that we’d been there… Seen it… Him.
I’ve seen Pele play, Beckenbauer, Best, Charlton etc etc – believe me – nothing beats the privilege of being a blue on the night that beautiful, beautiful man was at his peak.