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Ian Evatt's message on Burnden Park disaster anniversary

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Ian Evatt says Bolton Wanderers will "never forget" the 33 supporters who lost their lives in the Burnden Park disaster, 75 years ago today.

Players will wear black armbands and there will be a minute's silence ahead of tonight's home game with Cambridge United, as the club reflects on a devastating day in their history.

On March 9, 1946, 33 people died and around 400 were injured in a crush as Bolton hosted Stoke City in an FA Cup sixth round tie, which an estimated 85,000 had flocked to see at a ground that could only hold 20,000.

Evatt explained he and the players had spoken about the disaster ahead of the anniversary, and were keen to honour the memory of the victims with a positive result in an effort to pick up the pace of their promotion charge.

“We can’t forget and we never will forget. Those 33 names will live long in the memory of this football club as part of our existence and rightly so," said the Wanderers boss.

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"It’s extremely sad that people - 32 men and one woman - left to come and watch Bolton Wanderers and never returned home.

"It’s extremely heartbreaking. It certainly touched my heart and we must never forget what’s happened.

"We also must make sure that it never happens again, first and foremost, and secondly we go out there and give them the performance they deserve.

"I’m sure they’ll all be up in the sky watching down on Bolton Wanderers and being our biggest fans still and hopefully we can go out there and make them proud.”

Evatt added: “The players are all aware of it, of course. They will be wearing black armbands, there will be a minute’s silence and the players want to go out there and perform to the best levels they can for a number of reasons and that is the main reason.

"For the 75th anniversary we want to go out there and perform to the level to give them the respect and the memory that they deserve and that’s as far as it goes.

"We understand the importance of it, we understand the importance of the occasion, and we want to go out there and win.”

Bolton's six-game winning run ended on Saturday when Danny Rowe struck late to salvage a point for Bradford City at Valley Parade.

But Wanderers could stretch their unbeaten run to 10 tonight, and that is the minimum requirement for Evatt.

"We’re obviously pleased with the run we’re on but we all want to do more," he said.

"We were frustrated with Saturday rather than disappointed because we felt we had enough to win the game, but in turn, that’s given us a bit more desire and hunger to get back on the winning run again.

"Winning’s the best feeling in football and that’s probably why we’re all a bit disappointed after the game because we’ve become used to winning and winning becomes addictive.

"That feeling you get of winning on a Saturday, it is addictive and we’ve all got used to winning, which is great and no bad thing. We want to get back on that winning trail tonight."

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

Tonight's programme names the victims on the cover. 
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