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Bolton Wanderers
Posted by James Derbyshire on 01/16/2011

The town of Bolton, the football club and the entire football community were saddened on Saturday night as one of its greatest son's passed away.

The term legend is thrown around so readily, but Nathaniel Lofthouse typified the word not just within the football community, but as an ambassador to the town of Bolton.

Born in Bolton on August 27th 1925, Nat joined his home-town club in 1939 as a 14-year old amateur and finished his playing career with the club 21-years later. From there he stepped into every role imaginable to stay with his beloved Bolton before finally taking up the position as Club President in 1986.

But whilst Lofthouse’s career ended in glory, lifting the cup in 1958, the road towards it was not so smooth.

Infact Lofthouse had to wait years for his debut due to the Second World War. Whilst then Bolton Wanderers captain Harry Goslin led the ‘Wartime Wanderers’ onto the front-line, young Nat served in the coal-mines as a Bevin Boy.

The harsh realities of the war toughened Nat, still a schoolboy and made him the man, and leader he later became on the pitch.

His robust, powerful approach may have been typical of strikers in his era, but Lofthouse was like no other.

The gentle giant always remained humble off the pitch, modestly describing himself as a “battering ram” and in 1995, in an interview with Jimmy Armfield, he described his talents simply as; being able to “run, shoot and head”.

But how many strikers would have given their left foot to be able to shoot, run or head half as good as Lofthouse?

Lofthouse’s consistent goalscoring exploits soon caught the attention of England manager Walter Winterbottom, and in what spanned a glorious eight year period, Nat took his talents away from Bolton and stamped his name into football history forever.

Perhaps his finest hour was in 1952 when Lofthouse single-handily shredded Austria apart, scoring two goals as England won 3-2, earning him the moniker, ‘The Lion Of Vienna’, a badge Nat wore with pride throughout his career.

One of the greatest strikers to ever grace English football, Nat’s record speaks for itself.

A one-club man, Lofthouse scored 255 senior goals for his home-town team, and to this day, remains the record scorer. His England record is equally impressive, 33 caps and 30 goals, a return that will seal his name forever amongst the elite of football.

With Bolton, Lofthouse’s career had two major turning points.

First, the FA Cup final heartbreak in what became known as the ‘Matthews Final’, it was fellow football legend, Stanley Matthews who stole the show away from Lofthouse and Bolton, who had led the game 3-1. Later in the year, winning the Football Writers Player of the Year was a small consolation for Lofthouse, as he was rightly recognized as one of the greatest English players of his generation.

But Lofthouse eyed FA Cup retribution. And in 1958, he earned it. A 2-0 win against a post-Munich Manchester United was not without controversy. Whilst captain Nat put away both goals, it was his second, in which he barged (borderline assaulted) United keeper Harry Gregg and bundled the ball over the line. In modern football the goal would have probably earned Lofthouse a lengthy ban from football, never mind the FA Cup trophy!

But controversy aside, it would be hard to deny that Lofthouse did not deserve to lift the famous cup.

His stints as manager were less distinguised, but Nat's pure enthusiasm and love for his home-town, and his club, were unrivaled.

For modern Bolton Wanderers fans, Lofthouse’s name remains a legend, his genius imprinted in scratchy black-and-white films and photos.

To this day, Nat Lofthouse remains the measuring stick for any striker to wear the Bolton Wanderers shirt, especially those lucky enough to wear his famous #9, even in the eyes of those who've never watched Lofthouse in action.

Many have tried, more recently Bolton have been lucky to have the likes of John McGinlay and Kevin Davies. Two strikers who perhaps most closely resemble the passion and playing style that made Nat so revered. But even still, neither can touch the Lion.

In his later years, maybe the most iconic image of Lofthouse was his celebration and gleeful smile, as Ricardo Gardner put Bolton Wanderers 3-0 up in the 2001 Playoff Final against Preston North End and sent them into the Premier League.

Lofthouse was awarded with an OBE and the club’s east-stand was re-named in his honour in 1997. There have been numerous calls for his knighthood in recent years, and a statue to capture his legend has been mentioned. With a very much Bolton based board- Eddie Davies and Phil Gartside both Wanderers fans themselves- it should be assumed that Lofthouse’s passing will be dealt with in a memorable and fitting way.

Before he passed, Nat became very ill, and the news that broke on the Wanderers official website that he died peacefully in his sleep is a small crumb of comfort.

A giant of football, the greatest number nine, a working class hero, the Lion of Vienna, can now rest at peace, and be remembered forever, as he is, THE Bolton Wanderers legend.

With deepest condolences to the Lofthouse family.

R.I.P Nat. A Wanderer. Bolton Till I Die.

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Comments

Posted by Ian Lowe on 01/16/2011

I just hope that his family wont be too sad, for the passing of a real legend should be marked with gratitude. There was never many of Nats calibre around even when it was real football, and now a great of the game goes, a loss to us all. Rest in peace Sir Nat, free from pain but forever in memoriam, the one and only Wanderer.

Posted by Ian Yates on 01/16/2011

A true gent and a true Footballing Legend... Always in the thoughts of every true Football Fan... An ultimate professional, always there for the fans and his beloved Bolton Wanderers...

Sadly missed, but never forgotten...

We are the One & Only Wanderers...

Posted by Richard Slater on 01/16/2011

My Father, long since passsed on, a fervent Wanderers fan,used to regail me with tales of the `Lion of Vienna`. I had the tremendous pleasure to meet the Great Man at a function some years ago and spoke to him about those times. He came across as a truly magnificent person, a true gentleman and a `Bolton Wanderer` for ever. R.I.P. Sir Nat.

Posted by Phillip Meighen on 01/16/2011

I was just a young boy, freezing on the Burnden Park terraces during the last years of Nat's playing career but I was always aware of him as a great player, person and ambassador for Bolton Wanderers. I remember vividly his two goals in the 1958 cup final and I still have a copy of the programmme from the Nat Lofthouse Testimonial match which I attended in 1960 between the Bolton Cup Final XI and an All Stars XI. It says a lot for the regard in which he was held by his fellow players that the All Stars side contained such names as Billy Wright, Don Revie, Stanley Matthews, Tom Finney, Jimmy Armfield, Jackie Milburn and Wilf Mannion! (According to my annotations on the programmme, Bolton won 6-5 but I don't remmeber if Nat scored - I presume he did!) Although I moved to Australia with my parents in 1962 I still follow the Wanderers closely and I know the spirit of Nat Lofthouse will always remain with them. Vale Nat.

Posted by garry on 01/16/2011

My comiserations to the people of Bolton over the death of a great servant of the game of Football, and a great BWFC Footballing Legend. I've never had the pleasure to see any of his tapes, but can understand the reverence he is held in locally. I hope thecurrent "generation" can leave a fitting tribute to the great man this season. I'm sure he would certainly enjoy that no end.

Posted by barrie taylor on 01/17/2011

Ihave lived in Florida U.S.A. for some 20 years now but still the Wanderers result is the first one I look for.I first watched Nat in 1945 and looking at the pampered,overpaid,big girls masquerading as footballers whinging,diving and blaming everything but themselves for losing I realise my generation were lucky to have seen men like the "LION" play
R.I.P Sir Nat

Posted by maurice haren on 01/17/2011

im sorry to hear of his passing,cozthey dont make them like him any more,born and bred in bolton,and played his entire career ,in bolton,then stayedon with the club till he died,now thats loyalty,these days yor lucky if aplayer stays the length of his contract, RIP NAT LOFTHOUSE,you served BOLTON and ENGLAND,proud andthatcoming from a chelsea fan

Posted by Terry Robinson on 01/17/2011

Natt Lofthouse,what can I say, oh well may he rest in peace,

Posted by harry swift on 01/17/2011

I met Nat many times when I lived in Bolton. He was always happy go lucky and never too busy to talk to you. My son attended Folds Rd. school which produced both Nat and Tommy Lawton, alas my son never made it. R.I.P Nat, you will be missed.

Posted by Selwyn Cainer on 01/18/2011

R.I.P.

Posted by Jack Daubney on 01/18/2011

I met Mr. Lofthouse several years ago on a family trip back home to England. My family and I stopped into a pub and Nat was having his supper. After he had finished he came over and introduced himself. We had a few drinks with him and he invited us to his home for a couple of night caps. When we got to his place he made us feel so welcome, even to the point of showing us some of the caps he had earned from is games played for England. I have a picture of My dad & Nat and my dad is wearing one of the hats. Nat told us a story of when he came back to Bolton, during his first game back Nat deciced to try his skills at dribbleing and Bolton lost the game. After the game he was called on the carpet by his manager. His manager told him "Nat you can kick the ball, you can head the ball & you can run like the blazes but you can't dribble, so stick to what you know best. Which he did with aplomb. May he always be remembered in our hearts as the best to wear #9 Sir Nat Lofthouse.

Posted by Dave wolstencroft on 01/18/2011

My Dads all time football hero always talked of this brilliant footballer ,he remembered Nat travelling to burden park on the bus with the fans and always played great football my dad passed away about 25 years ago but memories of him talking about Nat Lofthouse are still as strong in my mind as ever . Sympathy to all his Family and Bolton Wanderers loss of a great man.

Posted by james mccormick on 01/19/2011

i remember being at nats testimonial and i had my photo taken when the players chaired him off iremember him saying to the players this reminds me of wembley ive never forgot those words from the great man RIP SIR NAT

Posted by Paul Bradshaw on 01/20/2011

My Dad took me to my first Wanderers game at Burnden Park in I think 1959 and I remember that Nat Lofthouse played and that my Dad obviously considered him to be someone very special and my Dad didn't throw compliments around very often. After that one game I was hooked and have followed the Wanderers ever since despite moving to Australia and then Florida. Words such as "legend" are thrown around too often these days but Nat Lofthouse was the real thing and I feel priveliged to have seen him play a few games even towards the end of his career.

Posted by Mobile GPS Tracking on 10/21/2011

we discussed about this topic on facebook. but this a another way of thinking

Posted by Nerf Guns on 11/24/2011

Thanks for the info! We're making a custom pair of slippers for you :)” oh wow thank you!!

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