Thomas Ogden, the schoolmaster who, in 1874, suggested the idea of promoting the sport of football in Bolton, would have been proud. His Sunday school team, naming themselves âBolton Wanderersâ in 1877 would go on to become one of the twelve founding teams of the Football League and from there cement their position in British footballing history thanks to a succession of FA Cup wins (notably, they won the first to be held at Wembley in 1923) and League victories.
Bolton Wanderersâ success ultimately rests upon the quality and skill of their players. And Bolton has certainly had its fair share of talented footballers. The question is: âWho are the greatest Bolton Wanderers players of all timeâ? Opinions vary, and are subjective of course, but a survey of Bolton Wanderersâ own fans â and who better to judge? â revealed the following as the top six greatest Bolton Wanderers players of all time.
1. Nat Lofthouse
OBE One of the few footballers truly deserving of the epithet âlegendaryâ, Nat Lofthouse was unanimously voted the greatest Bolton Wanderers player of all time. Devoted to the club, Lofthouse was Boltonâs star striker between 1946 and 1960 and earned a goal tally of 285 in the course of more than five hundred matches. Equally impressive, Lofthouse scored thirty goals for the England team in just thirty-three games.
2. Augustine âJay-Jayâ Okocha
âSo goodâ, chanted the Wanderersâ fans, âthey named him twiceâ, Nigerian midfielder Jay-Jay Okocha arrived in Bolton on a free transfer from Paris St-Germain in 2002. Quickly becoming popular with fans and helping to avert Wanderersâ relegation, Okocha earned the role of team captain and remained with Bolton until 2006, never failing to impress the home crowd and baffle the opposition with a seemingly inexhaustible bag of footballing tricks and talents.
3. John McGinlay
Arguably the defining period of Scottish striker âSuperâ John McGinlayâs footballing career was the five years from 1992 to 1997 spent at Bolton Wanderers. It was McGinlayâs penalty in the last fixture of the 1992-93 season against Preston that earned Boltonâs promotion to the First Division after an absence of nine years. During his time at the club, John McGinlay not only earned himself the enduring admiration of the Trottersâ fans but also secured his position as one of Bolton Wandererâs top ten most prolific goal scorers.
4. Gundi Bergsson
Icelandic defender Bergsson impressed Wanderers fans not only with his passion and dedication on the pitch, but also with his conduct off the field when he would happily spend time chatting to supporters and signing autographs; he is often referred to as a true gentleman. A vital member of Boltonâs team in more than 300 matches and scoring 22 goals between 1995 and 2003, fans have voted Bergsson their best defender of all time.
5. Frank Worthington
In just two years at Bolton Wanderers between 1977 and 1979, centre forward Frank Worthington earned a reputation for his remarkable skills on the pitch to match his notoriety for enjoying the high life off it. The fact that his goals secured promotion for the Wanderers in his first season with the club could only endear him to fans, and in 1979 he was awarded the Golden Boot, thanks in part to a legendarily skilful goal inflicted during a 3-2 defeat of Ipswich Town.
6. Eddie Hopkinson
Eddie âHoppyâ Hopkinson did not let a lack of physical size (he was 5 feet 8 inches tall) hinder his ability as a goalkeeper in any way. Devoted to Bolton Wanderers he appeared for them on a record-breaking 578 appearances between 1956 and 1969, earning 14 England caps along the way. Noted for his bravery and calmness in one-on-one situations with strikers, Hopkinson is widely regarded as Boltonâs all-time greatest goalkeeper and perhaps one of Englandâs greatest too.
What's your take? Who would you class as the greatest Wanderers player of all time? Let us know in the comments...
John is a freelance writer who produced this guest post for the good people at Alamo car hire Bolton. Jay-Jay Akocha photo by Jon Taylor, used under a creative commons licence.