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What's In A Number? - 1, by Quentin X

An Ongoing History of Bolton Wanderers Squad Numbers

Stoke City v Bolton Wanderers - Premier League Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Amazingly, it is over twenty years since Bolton Wanderers players first trotted out onto the pitch with squad numbers and names on their backs. That first season back in the top flight after a fifteen year absence saw a swift return back to Division One, where squad numbers were not made compulsory until 1999.

How many players have graced (or disgraced, you be the judge) the white shirt since 1995 and, indeed, how many times has the name on the back changed? In the case of the number 22 it didn't change at all for nigh on thirteen years but the number nine has seen so many changes (Tuncay anyone) that Bolton's most famous shirt number is now somewhat tarnished.

So, from 1 to 50, please welcome a weekly column that takes a look at all the players who have played for Bolton since squad numbers came in and my own view of them.

I bet you can't wait until number 21.....


The club's record appearance holder, Eddie Hopkinson, wore the number one shirt with pride from 1952 until 1970 and in the good old days before squad numbers came in, the number one was always the first choice keeper. Since the implementation of squad numbers, at Bolton this hasn't always been the case and, indeed, we don't currently have a number one as the owner at the moment is out on loan. For thirteen years, the number one jersey was usually held by the player who would stand in for Jussi Jääskeläinen, but as he was hardly ever injured and only twice seriously, number one was worn by a roll call of also rans, most not worthy to hand Jussi his gloves before he went onto the pitch to pull off more miracles.

Before Jussi however there was

1995-1996 and 1997-1998 - Keith Branagan

The English born Irish international spent eight years at the club but the buying of Steve Banks in 1999 and the emergence of Jussi numbered his days and he joined Ipswich in 2000. He made one of the most important, if not THE most important, penalty saves in Bolton's history in the 1995 play off final. I was lying in a dark room, nursing a very bad hangover as we quickly went two down and then Jason McAteer conceded a penalty. Never fear. I opened a few cans and saluted Branagan's save as we won promotion. Then went to the pub and worked on another hangover.

1999-2003 - Steve Banks

Signed from Blackpool in the days before transfer windows stopped allowing April movements, Banks played in the 1999 playoff defeat to Watford. And that's the only thing he did of note at the club as Jussi won the battle for the first choice. He spent almost as much time on loan as Tom Eaves did before signing permanently for Stoke. Was actually still playing up to last year and is now the goalkeeping coach at Bradford where he replaced Lee Butler who moved to Bolton with Phil Parkinson.

2003-2005 - Kevin Poole

Poole was already old enough to be your grandad when he signed for Bolton in 2001 and shifted to the number one jersey at the age of forty when Banks left. In his time he was the archetypal back up, playing just sixteen games, mostly in the cup. Left for Derby in 2005 and then moved onto Burton in 2006 where he was still playing in 2010 at the age of forty seven. He was even registered as a player until 2014 and is now goalkeeping coach at Birmingham City.

2006-2007 - Ali Al Habsi

In his first two seasons at the club Ali wore the number one and then took over twenty six when Tal Ben Haim departed. Whilst he was number one he didn't play a game for the club, so I'll have a closer look at him in approximately twenty five weeks.

2008 - 2015 - Adam Bogdan

The longest holder of the jersey since squad numbers were introduced, Bogdan joined the club in 2007 and was given the number one after being promoted to the senior squad in 2008 before being bundled off to Crewe for a season in 2009. He became second choice when Al-Habsi joined our six fingered cousins down the road, making his debut in 2010. Became pretty much first choice in our relegation season aand was player of the year in 2012. After running down his contract he joined Liverpool where, it is safe to say, things haven't gone particularly well, mistakes in a 3-0 loss to Watford being the lowlight. After one season, he joined the home for retired Bolton goalkeepers at Wigan and, interestingly, was replaced by Jussi after suffering injury at Barnsley just this weekend.

2015 - Ben Amos

Amos was brought in on loan from Man United after an injury to Bogdan promoted Andy Lonergan to first choice in early 2015 and then an injury to Lonergan made Amos first choice until Bogdan returned. Acquitting himself well, less than a goal a game at the point being a good statistic, he did enough for jovial Irishman Neil Lennon to sign him permanently after his United contract ran out. History would suggest that his signing was not the best business Bolton did during the last few years, but then Bolton did bad business all over the shop so just add Amos's signing to that list. Now on loan at Cardiff who are currently twenty first in the Championship with Amos playing regularly. Could a second successive relegation be on the cards?

So, six players, but only three real starters in that lot. Next comes Nicky Hunt.

Contain yourselves.