First football league goal commemorated with new plaque in Bolton

A plaque has been unveiled to celebrate Bolton Wanderers’ Kenny Davenport as the first ever goalscorer in the football league.

The goal, originally thought to have been an own goal by Aston Villa’s Gershom Cox, was revealed in 2013 when football researchers Mark Metcalf and Robert Boyling discovered that the kick-off in the Aston Villa game had been delayed.

It was found that Davenport’s goal at 3:47pm on September 8, 1888, for Bolton Wanderers against Derby County signified the first ever football league goal.

The plaque, which was placed in the same area as Wanderers’ former ground, Pikes Lane, was unveiled yesterday evening with the football researchers, the Mayor of Bolton, and Mr Davenport’s family in attendance.

Mayor of Bolton, and Kenny Davenport’s family
Mayor of Bolton, and Kenny Davenport’s family Credit: Jack Donnelly

Mark Metcalf said:

When I was writing my book I didn’t quite buy that Gershom Cox was the first ever goalscorer in the football league.

We spent about 400 hours looking for an advert for the Villa game to see when it kicked off, and I was ready to give up until Robert started digging as well.

I’m really pleased that the lads here have decided to put up a plaque for it. I’m very happy tonight.

Mr Metcalf and Mr Boyling were also welcomed onto the pitch at half-time last night during Bolton’s 1-0 victory against Coventry City:

Phil Mason, Bolton Wanderers Chaplain, said:

This is such a significant occasion as we gather to celebrate a key moment in Bolton Wanderers football club.

It’s wonderful to welcome everyone to this event, and I’d like to thank Kenny’s family for coming down and supporting us tonight.

Mr Mason added it was “wonderful” that Mr Metcalf had made the discovery over a hundred years after the goal was scored.


Brian Aspen, great grandson of Mr Davenport, said:

We’re very proud to be part of this history. When I found out the hairs on the back of my neck stood up- I couldn’t believe it!

Kenny won two England caps when he played and I used to be a Bolton Wanderers season ticket holder, so coming down here today has sent everything tingling.

The blue plaque is visible on the Lostock Electrical Projects Company building on Bankfield Street.

Kenny Davenport was born in Bolton and played for Wanderers for nine seasons. Two years later he became Bolton’s first ever England international when his side drew 1-1 against Wales at Blackburn.

Davenport died in 1908 aged 46.



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