clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

The Actual Legends in the Bolton Legends Match

Some of the chaps on show tomorrow don't quite fit the 'legends' moniker, but we reminisce of a few that certainly do from way back when

Alan Thompson: A true Bolton Legend
Alan Thompson: A true Bolton Legend
Ben Radford/Getty Images

Bolton Wanderers' end of season funfair is upon us tomorrow, with the club welcoming 'Legends' back to the Reebok Stadium as Team Kelly takes on Team McGinlay.

If entertaining football is on your wishlist then, as has been the case for the past few years, Bolton's home may not be the place for you as half of the Legends on show are pushing 50 at best.

An apparent lack of legends available has seen the club (or the Supporters' Trust) draft in celebrities - in the loosest form of the word - in Scouser and Liverpool fan John Bishop, Phoenix Nights funny man Paddy McGuinness, and Busted wannabe Danny Jones.

However, these chaps aside, there will actually be some true Wanderers legends on show tomorrow. So, for those of you youthful enough not to remember the good old days of Burnden Park (like Dan Murphy, judging by his article on Bolton Galacticos this morning), here's our guide to a few Bolton blasts from the past to look out for in addition to Tony Kelly and John McGinlay.

Fabien de Freitas

I'm still not sure if this guy was decent, or absolutely awful. He scored the equaliser and the vital winning fourth goal in the Division One Play-Off Final against Reading in 1995, which sent us to the Premier League for the first time. But that match aside, he only scored five goals in 39 games for Bolton.

After three seasons at Bolton de Freitas moved to Spain with Osasuna, before returning to England with West Brom where he only scored eight times in 61 appearances.

Personally, I'll always remember him for this equalising goal in the play-off final, which understandably skews my judgement on his ability. But I'm pretty certain that double etches his name in Bolton Legend status forever.

Alan Thompson

Alan Thompson is one of the best / one of my favourite players I've seen in a Bolton shirt. Yes the likes of Jay-Jay Okocha, Youri Djorkaeff and Gary Speed were superb, but at the time when Tommo was playing he was by head and shoulders our best player.

Tommo moved to Bolton from home town club Newcastle and went on to score 37 goals in 157 games for the club. I'll always remember being at the old Wembley to see him score a screamer in the League Cup Final against Liverpool in 1995, and he also scored Bolton's first ever Premier League goal, and the first competitive goal at the Reebok two years later. Skip to 8:18 in the video below for that goal against Liverpool.

He was sold to Aston Villa for £4.5 million in 1998, before moving to Celtic for nearly half that price two years later. He will be go down in Old Firm history for scoring two winning goals and being sent off three times for Celtic against Rangers. While at Celtic he also made his one and only appearance for England, which made him the first player to win an England cap while playing for Celtic.

After making 158 appearances Tommo saw out his career with Leeds United, before becoming a first team coach for Neil Lennon back at Celtic.

Richard Sneekes

A beautiful, beautiful man was Richard Sneekes. Long blonde hair, elegant on the ball and a venomous strike, he was a key player in the side that reached the 1995 League Cup Final. Sneekes began his career at Ajax and that Dutch guile was a welcome relief from some of the drivvle that typically occupied our central midfield zone.

After making 71 appearances for Wanderers, scoring 11 goals, he had a six-year stint at West Brom, making more than 250 appearances for the club. He then knocked about the lower leagues before beginning his coaching career with my closest hometown club, Hereford United in 2011. Until earlier this week he was manager of Northern Premier League Premier Division (ridiculous league name) side Rushall Olympic.

Julian Darby

One of my first memories of watching Bolton was seeing Julian Darby score (I have no idea who against), and he'll be forever etched in my memory as a legend for that moment alone. Darby began his career with Bolton way back in 1986, notching up 270 appearances and 36 goals for the club - including scoring in the final as Bolton defeated Torquay United to lift the famous Associate Members Cup in 1989.

He went on to play in the Premier League for Coventry, before playing for West Brom, Preston and Carlisle. After hanging up his boots he returned to Bolton for a brief spell coaching the Under 16s side. He has had a good coaching career with Nottingham Forest and now as a first-team coach at Leeds United.

Keith Branagan

Keith Branagan is still remembered as one of Bolton's greatest goalkeepers - or the best, depending on who you speak to.

Branagan joined Bolton in the first season of the new Second Division (League Two) after the founding of the Premier League in 1992. He made more than 250 appearances and enjoyed three promotion campaigns in nine years at the club, before joining Ipswich Town after being usurped by fellow Bolton great Jussi Jaaskelainen. He won his only cap for the Republic of Ireland while at Bolton in 1997.

According to LinkedIn (so this may no longer be true), he is now Director of Football Coaching at Bolton School. His son Ritchie came through the ranks at Bolton without playing for the club, but has been named among the Legends tomorrow - presumably they couldn't find any other goalkeepers to come along.

Mark Winstanley

Like Darby, Mark Winstanley began his career with Bolton and racked up more than 200 appearances for the club. Winstanley was a key player in the famous cup runs and Bolton's promotion back to the second tier in 1993/94, but scored the own goal that got Liverpool back into the home fixture before that win at Anfield in January 1993. Winstanley and Mark Seagraves will always be the central defensive partnership I remember from my first memories of watching Bolton.

Talking of Legends...

Of course, no article discussing the likes of these legends would be complete without a tribute to the late, great Dave Higson. Check out a few highlights of the brilliant man below. Ee-bah-gum, what a ding-dong-doo.