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My Dad's Greatest Ever Bolton Wanderers XI

Rob turns the player selection over to his Dad to compile an all-time Bolton XI - mainly to appease readers complaining about our youthful staff only selecting players from the last two decades

Legendary striker Nat Lofthouse has to lead any Bolton all-time eleven
Legendary striker Nat Lofthouse has to lead any Bolton all-time eleven
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

In the wake of our writers compiling their favourite Bolton Wanderers one to elevens, we decided to troll through the history books to attempt to compile the club's all-time greatest lineup.

I asked my Dad who he would pick from his five decades of watching Wanderers since his first game at the age of eight. So here goes...

Over the last five decades Bolton have seen all sorts of players come and go, many of whom have contributed in different ways and at various levels of the game. It's difficult to compare players from these eras as the game is completely different and has always changed from year to year.

I still recall the years when we weren't successful and the lack of quality was matched by some of the gems of games we had. It's certainly true that it was much more fun when we were crap.

Case in point being Newport County away in the Fourth Division watching a 1-0 win thanks to a goal from Steve Elliott in the pouring rain, which is something you simply don't get now or when we were in the Premier League.

Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen

Jussi probably has to be the best goalkeeper we've ever had. To be one of the standout goalkeepers in the high standards of the Premier League probably edge him into the number one jersey. Well before his era, Eddie Hopkinson may only have been about 5ft 8ins but he was very agile and notched up a club record 578 appearances for Bolton between 1952 and 1970, as well as playing 14 times for England, so there's certainly an argument that he'd be very close to replacing Jussi.

Jim McDonagh made 274 appearances for us and was a great goalkeeper as we got promoted under Ian Greaves, also earning the first of 25 Republic of Ireland caps while he was at Bolton. Another worthy mention is Barry Sidall, who began his career with us under Jimmy Armfield in the 1970s, while the more recent David Felgate and Keith Branagan also pushed Jussi close.

Right Back: John Ritson

When it comes to the defence you have to consider that modern football is a lot different to that of 50 years ago, with very different systems being played. Having said that, John Ritson would still be great in the modern day. He was always better when going forwards and had an incredibly hard shot, and was part of the side that won promotion to the First Division in 1978.

Pushing Ritson close would be Roy Hartle, who joined Bolton as a 16-year-old in 1952 and made 499 appearances for the club, earning him a place in our Hall of Fame. Another candidate would be Brian Borrows, who played around 100 games for Bolton before moving on to Coventry, where he made over 400 appearances.

Centre Backs: Paul Jones and Gudni Bergsson

This is an area of the team where selection depends on whether you want to play football or simply frighten the opposition. We've had our fair share of good centre-halves in the past, but Jones and Bergsson's quality sees them stand out above all the rest. Jones in particular was the best defender and ball playing centre back we've ever had, who was very much in the ilk of the Alan Hansen style of defender. He also scored goals, 38 in 445 appearances in fact, including two penalties in a 4-0 win over Oldham in April 1976 below.

Pushing Jones and Bergsson close would be Warwick Rimmer,who would be worth a fortune in modern football. He could defend as well as play football and made 469 appearances for the club between 1960 and 1974, earning him one of the first places in Bolton's Hall of Fame. Alan Stubbs would have to be considered as, regardless of the manner in which he left the club, he was an excellent defender. Also, Micky Walsh and Sam Allardyce were superb no-nonsense defenders but not quite in the same bracket of those above.

Left Back: Syd Farrimond

Farrimond could play football, but he could also kick with the best of them - which was vital in the role he played. He started his career with Bolton back in 1958 and racked up 404 appearances over 13 seasons, only scoring once, before moving on to Tranmere.

Another notable mention for the left side of defence was Tony Dunne, who played for us through the 70s at the end of his career after playing more than 400 times for Manchester United, helping us to the Second Division title in 1978.

Right Midfield: Peter Reid

Peter Reid was a fantastic player who was probably at his best while with Bolton before damaging his knee against Everton. He made more than 200 appearances for us before he went on to play for Everton and Manchester City and of course England, but he took up more of a sitting role as the injury took away his pace. As well as being a superb footballer he also had a bit of an edge to his game, which you had to have back in those days.

Central Midfielders: Freddie Hill and Jay-Jay Okocha

I simply have to pick Freddie Hill in the middle of the park, as he would walk into the England team now. Hill had fantastic touch and vision, kept the ball superbly and just ghosted past people. He came through our youth ranks and notched up 375 appearances for Bolton, scoring 74 goals, and played twice for England in 1962 - making him arguably one of the greatest players the club has ever produced.

Jay-Jay Okocha was in a similar mould to Hill, but even more gifted and has to be in any Bolton midfield. Jay-Jay could do things on the ball that no other Bolton player ever has and probably ever will do again, and some of the goals he scored were simply on another level.

One central midfielder that comes very close is Roy Greaves, who played a huge part in Bolton's history through good and bad, and was very underrated. He started out as a striker before being shifted back into midfield by Armfield and sits second in our all-time appearances list on 575 during his 15 years at Bolton before moving out to the US in 1980.

Several other players had a huge amount of ability and should have achieved much more, such as Ian Seddon, Brian Bromley and Len Cantello, who we signed from West Brom. Another of those was Gareth Williams, who looked to be a great signing from Cardiff after he made a good start at Bolton but then went off the rails both on and off the pitch and never really got the respect he deserved, possibly due to the size of the fee we paid for him back then.

Left Midfield: Peter Thompson

Going back through the years footballing systems were very different as teams played much more with out-and-out wingers than they do now. That meant players like Peter Thompson were absolutely in their element. He was very much the Wayne Rooney or Michael Owen of his era, in that he was much lauded as a schoolboy and went on to become a great player. We signed him after he'd played more than 300 games for a Liverpool side that twice won the then First Division, and he was probably one of the best signings we ever made. He retired in 1978 after leading us to promotion to the First Division after five years at Burnden Park.

Willie Morgan, who we signed from Burnley after he'd been superb for United in the early 70s, was up there with Thompson in that wing role when he played for us, although he was never quite at the same level.

Centre Forwards: Nat Lofthouse and Frank Worthington

There have been so many good strikers down the years that it really depends on what you want. Nat Lofthouse, although I missed out on seeing him play, is an absolute legend in the best sense of the word and has had such a long lasting impact on the club that he has to be in an all-time Bolton side. His exceptional record for England makes him one of the best strikers the country has ever produced, while his Bolton record of 285 goals looks unlikely to be beaten for a long time to come - unless Gary Madine gets his shooting boots on sharpish.

Frank Worthington also has to be in there for me. Worthington should have played for a top team and apparently only missed out on Liverpool because of an injury, but he had so much skill and tried to entertain as well as win. It's a shame we didn't have the video replays we have now back then, as all people can see now is the goal against Ipswich (below), but those kind of touches were regular for Worthington. I recall a kick-off where Neil Whatmore passed the ball to him, he flicked it up and volleyed it straight out to Morgan on the wing - he was a different class of player.

John Byrom is a striker I would include in the 11 I have seen play live. If he had been playing for Liverpool there's no doubt he would be remembered just like all of their stars, he had great ability and was a good finisher although he lacked a yard of pace and had a real nasty streak in him - I remember he once apparently took out Tommy Smith in the tunnel at Burnden.

Another striker who is really unlucky not to make the first eleven is Francis Lee, who a lot of people only remember from his time at Manchester City and Derby County. Franny was a no-nonsense forward from Westhoughton with a great shot and was prolific as he started his career at Bolton, scoring 92 goals in 139 appearances - which was far better than his record at City or Derby.

Other strikers worth a mention are Whatmore, who scored a lot of goals but wasn't in the same bracket as those above, and a few one offs like Gary Jones, Hugh Curran and Tony Caldwell, who we signed from Horwich RMI and scored five in a game against Walsall. I'll always remember John Manning, who wasn't necessarily the best but was superb as we beat a good QPR side 6-4 at home on a frozen pitch where no-one could stand up.

More recently of course we had John McGinlay and Andy Walker who were an excellent and different strikeforce, along with the likes of Kevin Davies and Owen Coyle. I always felt that if Walker hadn't got injured against Wigan then he would have become a club legend like McGinlay, but he never quite had the same pace after that.

Another wonderful player for us, who also only ever seems to be remembered for what he did at other clubs, was Wyn Davies. He was by far the best header of a ball, bar none, and scored 66 goals in 155 games for Bolton.

Going back even further than I can remember there are of course some exceptional players like Joe Smith, who only scored eight goals fewer than Lofthouse for the club, David Jack, Alex Finney and Jack Milsom, who may well be deserving of a place in an all-time eleven on paper. Without seeing them live it would be tough to compare them with the players above, especially as they played in a very different era of football.