Football Commentator & Columnist
Bolton Wanderers: Martin Tyler shares his memories of commentating at University of Bolton Stadium
Martin shares memories of "ahead-of-his-time" manager Sam Allardyce
Last Updated: 28/05/20 7:49am
At a time when football grounds have closed their doors, we've asked Martin Tyler to share some of his favourite facts and memories of the homes of clubs around the world.
This week, Sky Sports' Voice of Football is looking at some grounds at clubs that used to be in the Premier League. Today, he takes us on a trip to Bolton Wanderers' University of Bolton Stadium.
Keep an eye on The Football Show on Sky Sports News and @SkySportsPL for some special Tyler's Teasers from Martin.
How I get there
Bolton's former home, Burnden Park, was very accessible by rail, but the change of ground took Wanderers out of town, so wheels are needed.
There is an excellent hotel attached to the stadium which makes staying the night before or the night after a fixture very convenient.
What it's like to commentate there
In Bolton's Premier League years, the commentary and camera gantry protruded from the top of the Main Stand with access via the press box. It was ideal. But there has been a change to seats in the stand itself, again an excellent view but a little more cramped.
Emirates Stadium | Villa Park | Vitality Stadium | Amex Stadium | Turf Moor | Stamford Bridge | Selhurst Park | Goodison Park | King Power Stadium | Anfield | Etihad Stadium | Old Trafford | St James' Park | Carrow Road | Bramall Lane | St Mary's | Tottenham Hotspur Stadium | Vicarage Road | London Stadium | Molineux
Did you know?
Bolton's first game in the ground in 1997 against Everton finished goalless. It was before goal-line technology which would have spotted that a Gerry Taggart header had crossed the line. That it should have been a goal was quite clear on Sky Sports' live coverage. At the end of the season, they were relegated on goal difference!
My memories of the ground
I cannot think of the ground without remembering the management there of Sam Allardyce. Sam has had many clubs since but it was at Bolton, where he had spent some 10 years as a player, where he formulated and sharpened his managerial philosophy.
He guided the club back to the Premier League and then established Bolton at that level. He reached a League Cup final and took the unheralded North West club into Europe. He was able to attract star foreign players like Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Fernando Hierro.
I was with Bolton in 2005 in Bangkok when they won the Premier League Asia Trophy. Manchester City and Everton were among their rivals. It was the first time I really noticed, what is commonplace at the top level now, that the Bolton backroom staff outnumbered the playing squad.
Sam was a stickler for detail and would stop at nothing in a constant quest for any kind of marginal gain on the opposition. He was ahead of his time and not always appreciated for that.
He also loved ruffling the somewhat smoother feathers of managers from higher up the table, particularly the overseas bosses like Arsene Wenger. His remark about needing his name to be pronounced "Allar-dee-chee" to get higher up the ladder was not delivered totally in jest.
One match I particularly recall when he spoiled Arsenal's day was in April 2003. Arsenal were at the then-named Reebok Stadium looking for a win to go back to the top of the Premier League. In front of our live cameras the Gunners started the second half with some impressive marksmanship.
Thierry Henry set up a tap-in for Sylvain Wiltord and then Robert Pires produced a perfectly placed shot from 20 yards. From 0-0 at half-time Bolton were now two down 11 minutes into the second period.
The Allardyce Bolton never gave up lightly and in their ranks that day they had Okocha, Djorkaeff and a gifted Danish midfield player in Per Frandsen. The first two worked a short corner for Frandsen to let fly from the edge of the box. His drive hit a post, but Djorkaeff followed in to lift the rebound over David Seaman. Colour drained from Arsenal cheeks.
Set-pieces were Bolton's stock in trade and with six minutes left Djorkaeff's free-kick flew in for the equaliser via the back of Martin Keown's head. It summed up the spirit, the skill and the strategy of Bolton at that time.
What I like about this ground
It has a very eye-catching design and can be seen from miles around. I just wish it was in Bolton!