When Pele made local headlines in Bolton

On Behind Local News, we often make the point that behind every national or international news story, there’s normally a local news story being told too.

But could it really be true that the death of footballer Pele have a local news line here in the UK?

Turns out the answer is …. yes.

Step forward the Bolton News, which recounted the time Bolton Wanderers decided they wanted Pele as their manager.

Marc Iles, the chief football writer for the Bolton News said: “Famously, Pele was targeted by Bolton Wanderers to take over the vacant manager’s job in 1982. Forty years later, we re-examined the story and spoke to the reporters who worked on what was a famous front page in the Bolton Evening News.”

In the article, Marc revealed how the sports editor of what was then the Bolton Evening News, Bob Parkinson, could hardly contain his cynicism at Bolton’s ploy to lure Pele to the North West.

“Millionaire Pele is hardly likely to swap the sun and sand of Rio for the backstreets of Burnden Park, so when the club collect his certain and (hopefully) polite refusal, where can they turn next in their search for a man to restore their fortunes?,” wrote Bob.

The following day, the BEN carried the rather inevitable news that Pele was not going to take up the vacant post.

Andy Buckley was the reporter who ultimately broke the news to readers that Pele wasn’t going to be coming.

He told the Bolton News last week: “On one hand we can all laugh about it now and know they never stood a chance.

“But Bolton were — and are — a big deal. The name had a lot of cache, even though they were not in the top division.

“The fact we’re still talking about it fondly some 40 years later means the chairman did something right. Any PR is good PR as they say!”

Pele was later to say he didn’t recollect an offer from Bolton for the manager’s job.

But he did remember training at Bolton during the 1966 World Cup.



The stories behind the stories, from the regional press in the UK

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