Where Are They Now? Bolton Wanderers Fourth Division promotion winners 1987/88

by Neil Fissler

ROBBIE HENSHAW was one of six new signings that Phil Neal made when Bolton Wanderers found themselves in the Fourth Division for the first time in their history.

The club had dropped through the divisions in the previous decade and Neal opened the cheque book to ensure their stay in the basement would be short-lived.

Henshaw, a free transfer signing from Grimsby Town, needed just three minutes of his debut to score against Crewe Alexandra, who equalised through David Platt.

But it set the ball rolling on a campaign which would see them achieve their objective of winning promotion at the first attempt.

“I was one of six new signings that came in at the start of that season,” he said.

“I think Phil Neal had been firefighting before that, really, and they ended up going down.

“I don’t know why they went down because I wasn’t at the club. But he bought myself, Dean Crombie, Trevor Morgan, John Thomas, Jeff Chandler and Neal Whatmore.

“John Thomas had an unbelievable season, I think he scored something like 30 goals and Phil Neal wanted tried and trusted experienced pros.

“That is probably what they were lacking the year before and everyone he brought in, barring myself, were experienced pros.

“They added to what they already had at the club. We were probably the largest club in the Fourth Division at that time, along with Wolves.

“It was an accepted thing that we were going to get out of the Fourth Division. The club were really on their uppers in that first season.”

Wolves were runaway champions with 90 points, which was five more than second-placed Cardiff City, while Bolton squeezed into third place with 78.

Promotion was won on the final day of the season when another new signing scored the only goal at Wrexham.

Henshaw added: “We took something like 8,000 or 9,000 fans. Robbie Savage scored the winner.

“We were confident we were going to go there and get a result, which we did.

“I remember travelling down on the day on the team bus.

“Everywhere we went, every pub that we went past seemed to have thousands of Bolton fans outside and the atmosphere inside the ground was electric.

“It was probably the worst game of football I’ve seen in my life. It was a matter of getting the result.

“One of our players who wasn’t playing was Dave Sutton.

“I remember he was in the middle of our fans being one of the lads and it was just one of those surreal experiences for him.”

watn bolton 1987 graphic

  1. Neil Watmore: A strike now living in Nottinghamshire and working for Severn Trent Water.
  2. Julian Darby: A defender who went into coaching with Preston, Nottingham Forest and Bolton, then became first-team coach at Leeds United.
  3. Steve Elliott: A forward who’s still based in Fulwood, Preston. He has worked in leisure centre management for South Ribble Council.
  4. Dave Sutton: A defender who went into Non-League management before opening a market gardening business in Lancashire.
  5. Dave Felgate: An international goalkeeper for Wales, who went into coaching and is working as Manchester City’s elite development squad goalkeeping coach.
  6. Mark Came: A defender, who ran a window cleaning business for 12 years and then became licensee of the Conservative club in Winsford.
  7. Trevor Morgan: A centre-forward who has spent much of his post-playing career in Asia and Australia. Now managing East Bengal in India’s I-League.
  8. Mark Winstanley: A defender now working as a delivery driver for Warburton’s the bakers in Bolton.
  9. Peter Nightingale: A teacher at Bolton School who went on to become physio at Burden Park.
  10. John Thomas: A striker who still lives in Bolton, where he has run a successful sports shoe business and the family flower shop in Horwich.
  11. Ian Stevens: A striker who has worked in the building trade and has also coached in Florida, where he has a home.
  12. Chris Banks: Now back living in his native South Wales and has managed Pwllheli in the Welsh Alliance.
  13. Steve Thompson: A midfielder who went into coaching at Blackpool’s centre of excellence then on to Huddersfield Town and Leeds.Now first-team coach at Preston.
  14. Paul Booth: An England schoolboy international defender who works in the motor industry in his native Bolton.
  15. Nick Brookman: A midfielder based in Frodsham who has coached at Chester City’s centre of excellence.
  16. Dean Crombie: A defender who went on to be a football agent. He has scouted for Bolton and Wigan Athletic, where he is an opposition analysis scout.
  17. Steve Carroll: Coached the youth and reserves in 15 years at the club and went on to become first-team coach at Macclesfield Town.
  18. Peter Bell: The whereabouts of the former reserve team player are unknown to his former team-mates.
  19. Ian Callaghan: A midfielder living in Great Sankey, Warrington and runs a family firm, Callaghan Automation.
  20. Jeff Chandler: A Republic of Ireland midfielder who settled in Lancashire. Worked in Preston as a social worker with young offenders.
  21. Phil Neal: The former Liverpool legend went on to manage Coventry, Cardiff City and Manchester City. In recent years, he has worked in the media as a pundit.
  22. Derek Scott: A full back and son-in-law of Burnley legend Brian Miller. He became a policeman in Burnley after retiring from football.
  23. Gary Henshaw: A midfielder who is now a summariser on Tower FM and works full-time as a delivery driver.
  24. Warren Joyce: A midfielder who managed Hull City and Royal Antwerp. Now managing Manchester United’s Under-21 side.


Stuart Storer: A winger who is now managing Bedworth United and runs a BTec soccer education course with City College, Coventry.

Robbie Savage: A midfielder who is now a window cleaner in his native Liverpool. where he has also worked on Tranmere Rovers’ community scheme.

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