In this article we take a trip back into history to look at the highest appearance makers in Bolton’s history. In order to rack up the number of appearances they did these players had to give almost their entire careers to Bolton, and in some cases only represented the club. It is a sign of how football has changed over the years that many of these players started at Bolton as youngsters and began their professional careers at the club.
I have organised the players into a starting XI of sorts which is structured as below.
It should be noted that with 530 appearances to his name, Jussi Jaaskelainen should be in this team, but I opted to stick with out field players. Jussi’s appearance numbers far exceed any other non-British player to represent Bolton Wanderers. Ricardo Gardner with 409 appearances is the next highest.
GK: Eddie Hopkinson - 578 apps
Hopkinson is the man to have turned out the most for Bolton, representing the club between 1952 and 1969. He joined Bolton after a short stint at Oldham Athletic where he made three appearances.
During his time at Bolton he represented England on 14 occasions, and travelled to the 1958 World Cup as the second choice keeper. Hopkinson made 536 senior appearances over the course of a 19 year career.
He entered coaching after his retirement from the game at Bolton, and went on to manage Stockport County in 1974.
CB: Alex Finney - 530 apps
Finney started his career with Sutton Juniors, Peasley Cross, South Liverpool and then New Brighton. You might be thinking you have not heard of any of those teams, which is probably because this was in the 1910s to early 1920s.
In 1922 he moved to Bolton Wanderers where he would remain until 1937. This of course means that he represented the side during one of the most successful periods in their history, and he was a part of the FA Cup winning teams in 1923 and 1929. It would seem that he did not make the side of the 1926 final.
On leaving Bolton he joined Darwen, who many may have come across following Netflix’s recent drama The English Game.
When I first looked him up I was sure he was noted as a centre back, but on the second occasion he was noted as a full back, so I may be utilising him out of position here.
CB: Warwick Rimmer - 528 apps
Rimmer was a part of Bolton’s youth system from 1956 until 1960 at which point he stepped up to the first team. Having joined the club as a 15 year old, Rimmer would go on to captain the side during his 14 year stint at Burnden Park. As captain he would lift the Third Division title in 1973.
On leaving Bolton in 1974 he moved to Crew Alexandria racking up another 128 appearances before retiring in 1979. This means he made an impressive 597 appearances over a 19 year career.
On retiring Rimmer entered coaching. First he managed Crewe for a year before becoming Sierra Leone’s head coach which is fairly random. After returning to England he set up Tranmere Rovers’ academy, and played a part in nurturing 8 figures worth of players when sold on.
CB: Paul Jones - 506 apps
Jones was another to come through Bolton’s youth system, graduating to the first team in 1970. He would go on to play for Bolton for 13 years, racking up an impressive 38 goals after being signed by another man on this list Nat Lofthouse.
Jones did have the misfortune of heavily assisting Sheffield United in scoring only 45 seconds into his debut for the club when his back pass didn’t make the distance. It could only be up from there I suppose, and it certainly was.
Jones is heralded by Bolton fans as one of the best players never to play for England. He did achieve a call up in 1977 despite Bolton being a second tier side, bit did not make the bench for England’s 1-0 over Luxembourg.
On leaving Bolton Jones moved to Huddersfield Town, Oldham Athletic, Blackpool, Rochdale and Stockport County raking up a further 181 appearances and 11 goals before his retirement in 1990.
After retiring Jones went into coaching, which included a spell in China. He would also go on to be a judge on a football talent show called Futbol Prensi.
He actually spoke to LOVS a few years back, and you can find his full interview here.
RWH: Roy Hartle - 499 apps
Hartle joined Bolton as a youth player from Bromsgrove Rovers and made his first team bow in 1952. He would remain at the club until 1966 when he moved to Buxton and then New York Generals as a player coach.
While at Bolton he was a part of the 1958 FA Cup winning side.
During his career he played mainly at right back, but for these purposes he can move forward a bit to right wing half, which so far as I can work out is essentially a wing back from days gone by, before these midfield players dropped back to become full backs in today’s sense.
LWH: Bryan Edwards - 518 apps
Edwards spent his entire playing career with Bolton which spanned from 1947 to 1965.
As a youngster he was a top class footballer and cricket player, who had a trial at Yorkshire CCC, his home county. He would opt for a career in football following a trial with Bolton.
He is another on this list who won a medal in the 1958 FA Cup final. As well as playing wing half, Edwards would drop back into central defence later in his career.
Edwards enjoyed a coaching career after retiring from the game which took him to Blackpool, Preston North End and Plymouth Argyle before he landed the top job at Division Three Bradford City. The club were relegated that season and spent a further two years under his management.
Physiotherapy followed management before Edwards ended up back at Bradford fulfilling a number if roles.
CM: Roy Greaves - 575 apps
Greaves played around 700 games over the course of an 18 year career. The vast majority of these came for Bolton before around 100 appearances for Seattle Sounders and a short spell at Rochdale.
Greaves represented Bolton in three divisions following his debut against Southampton which yielded a brace. He was a key player as Bolton worked their way back up to the top flight where they would stay for two years before relegation.
Yes, I know Greaves was a striker, but he did play in midfield when were promoted out of Division Three and then moved back up to Division One. He was likely used in a more attacking role than his pure central midfield role here, but we have to make do and mend for some balance.
OFL: Ted Vizard - 512 apps
As a Welshman, Vizard is the only member of this team not from England.
He started his senior career with Barry District in 1909. Following this he would move to Bolton in 1910 and enjoy around 20 years with the club. During this time he appeared for his country on 22 occasions.
Vizard was a key member of the Bolton side throughout his time at the club and appeared in all three successful FA Cup final appearances in the 1920s. He retired from football, leaving Bolton, at the age of 41 becoming the oldest player to play for the club. This record has only been surpassed by Peter Shilton.
After retiring Vizard moved into coaching at Bolton before becoming manager at Swindon Town where he spent six years. Following this he moved to Queens Park Rangers who he never actually managed in a competitive match due to the outbreak of World War II. His final managerial stint was a season at Wolverhampton Wanderers who he led to a third place finish in the First Division in the year after the end of the war.
The eagle eyed may have noticed another unfamiliar position here. An outside forward is essentially a winger from the 2-3-5 formation and was Vizard’s position throughout his career.
OFR: Doug Holden - 463 apps
Holden began his professional career with Bolton in 1950, and this would stretch for 12 years. At the end of his time with the club he joined Preston before retiring in 1965.
He was a part of the team for both the 1953 and 1958 FA Cup finals. Following this spell he played for England on 5 occasions.
While at Preston, Holden was once again on the losing side of an FA Cup final as West Ham United ran out winners in 1964. After his time at Deepdale, Holden moved to Australia and played for Hakoah in Sydney.
Upon retiring he moved into coaching in Australia before returning to England to coach at Grimsby Town. Debatable decision leaving Sydney for Grimsby but there we go.
CF: Nat Lofthouse - 503 apps
Mr Bolton Wanderers himself. Lofthouse of course spent almost his entire working life within the employ of Bolton in various roles.
During his 14 years as a Bolton player, he of course has World War II to thank for shortening his competitive career, he scored 285 goals working out at better than 0.5 goals per game. This was of course an inferior goal ratio to the one he enjoyed with England where he score 30 goals in 33 appearances, the best goals to game record of any England player.
The crowning achievement as a Bolton player was of course lifting the FA Cup. Amongst his other notable honours is having a Virgin Cross Country train named in his honour.
CF: Joe Smith - 492 apps
Smith began his footballing life at Crewe Alexandra but would make his professional debut for Bolton in 1908. He remained with the club until 1927, racking up 277 goals, a tally only just beaten by Lofthouse.
He holds the club record for the most goals in a single campaign with 38. His goal scoring antics continued after he left Bolton as he netted 61 times in 70 league games for Stockport.
While at Bolton he won promotion from the Second Division during his debut season and would play in the 1923 and 1926 FA Cup finals, captaining the side in both. This would make him the first man to lift silverware at the Old Wembley.
Smith made five appearances for the national side while at Bolton, scoring once. He played both before and after World War I.
After he left Bolton he moved to Stockport County for two years before becoming player manager at Darwen for a further two years.
When he retired from football he moved into full time management at Reading who he led in the Third Division South building a formidable home record including a 55 game unbeaten run. He would later move to Blackpool who he steered to promotion to the First Division following his appointment 1935. He would serve as manager until 1958, making his crowning achievement an FA Cup final win over Bolton in the Stanley Matthews final. He led Blackpool to their highest ever league finish of second during his 714 games in charge, World War II keeping this number down.