Bolton-le-Sands 1956-57 by local football historian Terry Ainsworth, sponsored by Vincenzo’s coffee house.
In season 1956-57 Bolton-le-Sands still competed in the top division of the North Lancs League but fell victim to giant killers from the lower orders of the league when they travelled to Lancaster to play Skerton Athletic and create a record in the process.
Third division Skerton Athletic reached the semi-final of the Senior Challenge Cup in February 1957 with a stirring 6-5 victory over first division high flyers, Bolton-le-Sands, in front of a record crowd of more than 450 partisan spectators on Ryelands Park.
The Skerton officials took advantage of the record numbers to boost their finances by going round with a cap because they could not charge an entrance fee onto the park.
The Lancaster Guardian covered the game as follows, “Skerton bewitched, bothered and bewildered their more experienced opponents to such an extent they were often left floundering in the mud as the young and versatile Athletic attack weaved its way towards goal.
Mason, a diminutive but extremely agile goalkeeper performed wonders as he punched and parried a series of shots from the Bolton-le-Sands attack.
Foxcroft had a hard job in leading the village side’s attack and in Ray Simpson he found an almost unbeatable centre half.
Skerton were soon ahead through Osmotherley and Bradshaw but the villagers replied through Foxcroft and Baines before Bradshaw restored the Athletic’s lead at half time.
Albert Dainty, in spite of his lack of pace, proved how skilful he was by equalising.
Skerton immediately fought back and Osmotherley and Bill Lockley once more were on target but a fine sweeping move by Bolton-le-Sands involving all of their forwards allowed Foxcroft to head a fine goal.
The ding-dong tussle continued and Hoyle made it 6-4 to the Athletic who didn’t have chance to celebrate as Foxcroft netted again.
With the seconds slowly ticking away towards full time Bolton-le-Sands desperately fought for an equaliser but the resolute Skerton defence sternly held out.”
Teams lined up as follows:
Skerton Athletic: Bob “Manic” Mason; Trevor Walker, John Muckalt; Alan Godkin, Ray Simpson, Eddie Mattinson; Bill “Ginner” Lockley, Mick Davies, Chris Osmotherley, Malcolm Bradshaw, Alan “Squeak” Hoyle.
Bolton-le-Sands: Alan Shaw; Brown, Derek Ronson; Rotherham, Alan Winder, Bob Baines; Burrows, Geoff Morrow, Cecil Foxcroft, Albert Dainty, Norman Wilson.
In the final Skerton faced another first division side in Lancaster Lads Club Old Boys on the Caton Road ground of Lansil.
Their defeat by 0-6 only tells a part of the story as an unfortunate incident prior to the game ensured that they played with only 10 men.
In the warm-up Eddie Mattinson was injured and carried off the field but because the team sheets had been handed to the referee he could not be replaced and the third division “giant killers” finally had to admit defeat.
Gren Burrows was an outstanding local goalkeeper who left Bolton-le-Sands and went on to play for Morecambe and Lancaster City but I have found another team that Gren was selected for and the line-up makes interesting reading.
Gren was selected to play for the Lancashire County Football Association in the Northern Counties Amateur Championship against Liverpool County Football Association in a 2nd round replay at Marine Football Club on Saturday February 14 1953.
The first choice goalkeeper was Harry Sharratt formerly of Wigan Athletic but on this occasion he had been selected to play for England thus giving Gren the opportunity to show his talents.
A young Manchester United player, Duncan Edwards, was selected at inside left and a few weeks later he made his first team debut for Manchester United on April 4 1953 at the age of 16 years and 185 days.