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Nat Lofthouse

John Simkin

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You can find my tribute to Nat Lofthouse here:


In his autobiography, Goals Galore (1954), Lofthouse explained the importance of school in his development as a footballer:

My early schooldays may seem unimportant to the reader, but to me they were the most formative of my life. I discovered it was impossible to learn all there was to know about football. Modesty, and the putting of team before self was always stressed. The old maxim that practice makes perfect was constantly hammered into us by a schoolmaster to whom I shall always be heavily in debt.

One of our biggest supporters was Mr. Bert Cole, a forty-year-old sportsman who got a great kick out of helping schoolboy footballers to make the grade. He told me he thought I might develop into a useful header of a football, and with the permission of my father-who by now was head horsekeeper for Bolton Corporation-he used to come to our house on a Sunday morning and encourage me to head a football correctly. More often than not I practised heading a ball against the wall of the stables which adjoined our house, and this form of practice was the basis of the heading technique I later developed with Bolton.

Progress in football is made slowly but surely, and when I did eventually secure my place in the Bolton Schools XI I knew I would be able to hold my own. Mr. Cole, my mentor, was equally thrilled by my honour and promised me a new bike if I scored a hat-trick in my debut, which, incidentally, was against Bury Town. I thought he might be pulling my leg but I was determined to succeed just the same.

Well, I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. We beat Bury 7-1. I scored all seven goals - a personal record. Afterwards, to my frenzied delight, Mr. Cole wheeled a handsome new bike round to my home. "I had a hunch you were going to score at least three goals," he told me, "so I took the precaution of having the bike ready."

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