Born In Bolton review

BORN IN BOLTON by Geoff Ogden

As a seven-year-old schoolboy, and a southern-based young Manchester United fan I made a scrapbook, (I still have it), which pictorially recorded the disastrous outcome of the Munich air crash in February 1958. Within three months the dramatically weakened United team played Bolton Wanderers in the FA Cup Final. Nat Lofthouse bundled Harry Gregg over the goal-line and, sadly, the Trotters won 2-0. Thirty-seven years later I was at Wembley to watch Reading, my home town, play Bolton Wanderers in the 1995 First Division Play-Off final. Despite missing a penalty Reading led 2-0 at half-time but by the time the final whistle sounded Bolton had secured a place in the Premier League, winning 4-3. Those two events have led to me having a bit of an ongoing grudge against the Lancashire cotton-town and I reckoned an invitation to review this book might offer a chance for some revenge?

Far from it! Geoff Ogden, for so long a popular member of the Lancashire CCC Committee, has lovingly introduced his readers to 38 Boltonians who have graced the first-class game. His pen pictures reveal of all sorts of snippets that even the most knowledgeable of Lancashire members might not be aware. How many could nominate James Hallows as an addition to the list of more readily known epileptic cricketers? Which Bolton-born cricketer played for South Africa? We learn how Mike Watkinson acquired the nickname of 'Winker' and that Walter Brearley (batting average 5.89) sometimes made his entrance as a batsman by vaulting the pavilion gate, and rushing to the middle often without his gloves. We are reminded that father and son, Brian ("the heavens ring with his almost continuous and loud appealing") and Karl Krikken were both vociferous appealers and that Karl, keeping for Derbyshire, once conceded no byes in a Hampshire match total of 732, and uniquely that twins, Matt and Callum Parkinson dismissed each other (both lbw) when Lancashire played Leicestershire in 2019. Did you know that Dick Barlow (11217 runs and 950 wickets) also referred the 1887 FA Cup Final when Preston North End famously beat Hyde 26-0?

The author selects a squad of his 'best XIII' under the captaincy of Jack Bond. Ten of them played for England. The bowling is exceptionally strong but to put out a balanced side, incredibly, there might not be places for England cricketers Walter Brearley (844 fc wickets) or Dick Pollard (1122). The batting is more modest. The aggregated batting averages of his eleven total 264 (The Reading equivalent is 349).

David Kaye, a well-respected Bolton cricket historian, has contributed a splendid six-page article which describes the long and distinguished cricketing history of the town, and a map identifying over 300 modern and yesteryear Bolton clubs is an additional bonus.
Published by Max Books, this fine 125 page, soft-covered book is a gem. It is an absolute must for followers of Bolton cricket, all Lancashire members and, indeed, all lovers of the Red Rose county.

Geoff Wellsteed
Author of 'Inside the Boundary' (cricketers born in Reading)

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