You can imagine how otherworldly Pele and his Brazil team-mates – the reigning world champions – must have seemed to the residents of Bolton when they turned up for a training session at Wanderers’ old Bromwich Street training ground during the 1966 World Cup finals. Bolton had never seen anything like it.
As the story goes, Brazil were supposed to train at Burden Park but got locked out and had to take the bus down the road. The team was based at the Lymm Hotel in Cheshire, 40-odd minutes away by road. (The Lymm closed in 2019, making way for a residential care home.)
It’s a spectacular photo. The contrast between the vibrant young footballer, messing about in goal, and the bedraggled onlookers is wonderful. The North in July – there’s nothing like it. Looks like Pele saved it too!
Brazil also played a practice match against Wanderers, under bluer skies:
Sixty-four years ago, that.
P.S. If anyone knows who the photographer was, we’d love to know. The caption on the picture is unclear.