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A Week with Cliff - The Lion of Vienna

Posted on 15 March 2012  - 13:00

Fifty years ago this week, Cliff Jones and his double-winning team-mates had just beaten Aston Villa in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and were preparing for their next challenge - the semi-finals of the European Cup.

A Week with Cliff - The Lion of Vienna

With another FA Cup quarter-final on the horizon, who better than Cliff to rekindle a few memories of those glory, glory days past and talk about the current crop of players determined to write their own history.

As we prepare to face Bolton in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Saturday, we asked Cliff for his memories of the Bolton team that lifted the trophy at Wembley in 1958, a team that included the legendary Nat Lofthouse.

THURSDAY - NAT, BRASS BANDS AND BURNDEN PARK

Cliff likened Bolton and England great Nat Lofthouse, OBE - the 'Lion of Vienna' - to our own striking hero Bobby Smith.

Lofthouse was Mr Bolton. He spent his career at the club that he initially joined in 1939, but had to wait until post-war and 1946 for his debut.

He went on to play over 450 times for the Trotters, scoring over 250 goals, between 1946-60.

During that time, and staying with the FA Cup theme ahead of Saturday's quarter-final at the Lane, Lofthouse was involved in two famous FA Cup Finals - 1953 and 1958.

The first was the 'Matthews Final', where Lofthouse scored and Bolton led 3-1, only for Sir Stanley's wing play and a hat-trick from Stan Mortsensen to turn it around 4-3 in Blackpool's favour.

Lofthouse had to wait until 1958 to get his hands on a winner's medal, inspiring his team to victory with both goals in a 2-0 win against Manchester United. The second goal remains Final folklore as Lofthouse charged United goalkeeper Harry Gregg into the net with the ball, and the goal stood.

Lofthouse added a magnificent 30 goald in 33 caps for England - his last cap against Cliff and Wales in 1958. He sadly passed away last year.

"Nat was the Bobby Smith of his generation, if you like," reflected Cliff on Lofthouse. "He was tough, strong and he could really play.

"He will always be remembered for the England match against Austria (scoring a brave goal in a 3-2 win in May, 1952), 'the Lion of Vienna'. That summed him up perfectly.

"He lived for Bolton, it was his only club and he was a real legend, Nat. He was certainly a player no-one relished playing against.

"That went for that Bolton team and no-one liked going to Burnden Park.

"They were a tough-tacking team. My memories are of Tommy Banks the full-back, Roy Hartle, who didn't take any prisoners.

"All wingers would come back from Burnden Park with 'gravel rash' because around the outside of the pitches there is always a track and wingers would invariably end up in that track.

"I always remember when you went to Burnden Park there was pre-match entertainment and a brass band.

"So whenever I hear a brass band play I always think of Burnden Park, rain, Tommy Banks, Roy Hartle and gravel rash. That brings it back big-time."

Fifty years ago this week, Cliff Jones and his double-winning team-mates had just beaten Aston Villa in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and were preparing for their next challenge - the semi-finals of the European Cup.

With another FA Cup quarter-final on the horizon, who better than Cliff to rekindle a few memories of those glory, glory days past and talk about the current crop of players determined to write their own history.

In the final part of this week with Cliff, the Welsh flier tells us what the FA Cup and Wembley means to him.