Nat Lofthouse, the Lion of Vienna, is pretty much universally recognised as the club's greatest player. We even decided to name this blog after him. It's only fitting that the club have grand plans to commemorate the man who dedicated his whole life to Bolton Wanderers. This week, the club announced many aspects of its plans to honour the true great. We're here to give you the lowdown.
On Monday, the club posted an interview with Sean Hedges-Quinn, the man chosen to sculpt Nat. Hedges-Quinn's career started in the film industry as a prop-maker and sculptor, but Nat is by no means his first football sculpture. He has already immortalised Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey. In the interview, he described his creative process. It starts out with lots of research, reading biographies, looking at pictures, watching highlights. He described it as "living and breathing Nat Lofthouse for 9 months".
Next Hedges-Quinn will make a scale model, about 14 inches tall, called a maquette. It will be submitted for approval by the board before he goes forward. The next part of the process is to sculpt the skeleton, which will be made out of steel and need to support about 500 kgs (over 1000 lbs) of clay. The final statue will be larger than life-size, about 9 feet tall.
The head is sculpted separately and attached later to allow a greater level of detail. Hedges-Quinn will then start on the body itself. He creates all of his figures naked originally, in the Greek style, which gives better lines. The clothes will be put on last. The entire process takes about 9 months, and the sculptor itself is aimed to be revealed sometime next January, close to the second anniversary of Lofthouse's death.
On Wednesday, the club shared the plans for the Nat Lofthouse memorial garden, which will house the statue. It will be located at the front of the stadium, in the south-west corner, so that people walking to the stadium will see the statue. The three final images of Nat himself that will be replicated in the garden were also announced.
Nat lifting the FA Cup in 1958, when Bolton controversially beat Manchester United 2-0. Lofthouse was captain that day, and scored both goals
Those images will all be "used in some way" in the memorial garden. Now more than £20,000 has been raised for the Lofthouse memorial fund. There are lots of ways to get involved, including drinking beer! A local brewery has produced two beers, the 'Lofthouse' and the 'Lion of Vienna'. There's also a sponsored walk and sky dive. For more information, check out the site.