Liverpool nearly got frostbite at Burnden Park

THE FA Cup is back in town this weekend - so we unlocked the archives to remember the day mighty Liverpool nearly got frostbite at Burnden Park.

We all remember the White Hot replay at Anfield but 25 years ago today, Graeme Souness brought his cup holders to Burnden for a Sunday lunchtime game which nearly didn't get the go-ahead.

Wanderers had been economical with their undersoil heating, which left a thick layer of frost on the pitch. Liverpool's coaching staff questioned whether referee Dermott Gallagher should give the go-ahead for the game to take place but canny Bolton boss Bruce Rioch ensured his players made light of the freezing temperatures.

“They (Bolton) reckoned the undersoil heating got broken overnight but we’ve heard plenty of rumours about it getting switched off,” said Tony Kelly, one of Wanderers' midfielders on the day.

“It worked a treat because Liverpool didn’t fancy it at all.

“If it ever looked like the game might get called off at Burnden Park, the gaffer used to send us out in short sleeved shirts to try and influence the referee.

“The ref didn’t know we had loads of Fiery Jack slapped all over us. We had to run around to cool us down.

“When Liverpool came out they were covered in scarves, gloves, hats, you had the likes of Ian Rush looking at us and thinking ‘what are these lunatics doing?’ “It was all mind games.”

Wanderers took a two-goal lead into the break thanks to John McGinlay and ex-Reds trainee Mark Seagraves. But when Mark Winstanley turned a cross from Ronnie Rosenthal into his own net, the Merseysiders threw everything forward and snatched an equaliser at the death through Ian Rush after a mistake from Seagraves.

Rioch admitted there were mixed feelings in his dressing room: "I am satisfied and delighted with the way we played and I know the players enjoyed it," he said. "But that feeling is tinged with a little disappointment and, if you feel that way after facing Liverpool, you know you have competed well.

"At the break I felt we had a good chance of winning but we conceded a couple of unfortunate goals through an own goal and a misdirected back pass. We were not able to keep the momentum going but it has been a good day for us."

Rioch added, prophetically: "I suppose Liverpool will be thinking they have done the hard work but we will look forward to the replay and who knows what might happen if we create as many chances at Anfield?"

Liverpool's England star John Barnes said: "At one stage we looked to be going out and could have been three or four goals down at half time. But if anyone was going to score it was going to be Rushie. You can never write him off. Any team who wins the cup relies on a little bit of luck."

Seagraves reflected on the agony and the ecstasy of his give away back pass after heading Bolton's second goal. He said: "It's marvellous to score against anyone but especially against Liverpool. On the back pass I was trying to play the ball back to our goalkeeper and mis-hit it.

"You can't afford to give a team like Liverpool those sort of opportunities. But we should have been five goals up at half time and if we play the same way at Anfield there is no reason why we can't win the replay." 

Copyright - The Bolton News

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