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Club Tributes

Owen Coyle remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Owen Coyle represented Bolton Wanderers on 68 occasions between 1993 and 1995, scoring 23 goals. 

Coyle said: “When I was at the Wanderers as a player, along with John McGinlay, we were fortunate enough to spend time in his company. Nat was around Burnden Park and we would talk with him and he was generous with his help, advice and encouragement.

“He was somebody I felt a real liking for, someone I greatly respected and was full of admiration for, not only for what he achieved as a footballer, which was immense, but as a man.

“Nat was a role model and ambassador for the club. He was a fantastic man and for me he summed up everything bout Bolton Wanderers Football Club.

“The word legend is bandied around a lot these days, but in the case of Nat, never was it more appropriate.”


Phil Gartside remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Phil Gartside joined the board at Bolton Wanderers in 1989 before being appointed as Chairman ten years later in October 1999.

Gartside said: “I was fortunate and privileged enough to spend time with Nat, and get to know him and without a shadow of doubt, Nat was Bolton through and through. He loved the club and its fans, everything and we can count ourselves very lucky that he came our way.   

“Naturally, it is very sad that he has passed away. We mourn him and on behalf of everyone at the football club I would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his family.

“The Wanderers had a special place in his heart and he will be forever remembered by us as a true legend.

“We will miss him and he is a great loss, but at this time too we celebrate his life, his tremendous achievements as a footballer, father, husband, friend and colleague, and his massive contribution to Bolton Wanderers football Club.”


Kevin Davies remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Like Nat Lofthouse, Kevin Davies spearheaded Bolton Wanderers' frontline for many seasons. After joining in the summer of 2003, he has gone on to make over 300 appearances for the Whites before his departure in the summer of 2013. 

Davies said: "I’ve obviously been in Nat’s company several times since I’ve been at the club and it was easy to see why he was held in such esteem by not just those from the town but everyone who had a passion for football. Yes, he had a great scoring record for both club and country but people also talk about how much of a gentlemen he was, and that was very apparent from the times that I met him.

"Supporters have said to me that my style of play can be compared to that of Nat, which is I think is the ultimate compliment. To be honest, I could never put myself in that bracket – I would need to score quite a few more goals to be even considered half the striker that he was!

"When you look at his goalscoring record, it’s pretty scary from a striker’s perspective. To be so prolific both domestically and internationally, then it is some achievement.

"It would have been amazing to experience playing with or against Nat in what is fondly remembered by a lot of people as the ‘golden age’ for football in England."


Des McBain remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Des McBain is a Director at Bolton Wanderers. He joined the club as Secretary 32 years ago before later moving to occupy the position of Chief Executive.


McBain said: “I came to Bolton Wanderers in 1978 after previously working as secretary at Blackpool for 11 years. Nat rejoined Wanderers at around the same time in a role as manager of the Platinum Suite at Burnden Park as the club were trying to encourage more members into that area. Obviously I knew that he was idolised in the town of Bolton, but I didn’t realise just how much until that time.

“I knew that he was admired as a footballer but that had been from afar. I had previously met him a few times so I knew him professionally, but it was at that point when I got the opportunity to know him personally. My wife and I and Nat and Alma became good friends, getting to know each other very well.

“Nat was a lovely guy, who always had his family at heart. He was always very modest and I don’t think he realised what effect he had on the town of Bolton and its people. People held him in such great esteem and he was respected by everybody, particularly the supporters who thought the world of him.

“Whenever he attended functions and dinners, 20 to 30 years after he retired, people wanted him to pose for photos and get his autograph – and he was more than happy to sign them all. I think he was actually embarrassed by all the attention sometimes.

“As a player, he was in that elite group that will never be seen again, similar to the likes of Billy Wright at Wolves and Sir Tom Finney who were also one-club men. In fact, Sir Tom was one of his closest friends. When they were on England duty, Nat and Sir Tom used to catch the train down to London together and, if my memory serves me right, they were actually room-mates.

“I will always remember Nat telling me a story about an early away game for Bolton at Blackpool. He lined up in the tunnel and there was a guy standing next to him who had his front teeth missing and he was growling at Nat. He kicked Nat up and down all game but after the full-time they shook hands. That man was Harry Johnston, the Blackpool legend, and from that day they became good friends. Whenever they played against each other they would be fierce competitors but Harry would always ask him in the middle of the game, “how’s the family?”

“Nat would also talk about how at the end of every season he, along with his team-mates, would go through the process of finding out whether he was going to be retained for the next season or released. Even though he was the figurehead of the team, he would say that they were the most nervous times of his career, waiting for the manager Bill Ridding to call him through to his office to learn his fate. He was never confident of being retained and would jump for joy when told he at the club the following season.

“After calling time on his playing days, the club gave Nat a tremendous fillip in honouring him by appointing him President of the club as a mark of respect and recognition of his service to Bolton Wanderers. I know that he felt privileged to be given such a role at his club and took his responsibilities tremendously seriously.  

“Nat gave so much to the club and it was only right that they made him a Freeman of the town. He certainly brought a lot of respect and publicity to Bolton from the outside world, and I know that whenever we have been abroad with the football club, representatives and supporters of the opposition have always wanted to talk about Nat and his exploits on the international stage with England in the 1950s.

“Nat will never ever be forgotten in the footballing world and to be a friend and colleague of him, it has been an absolute pleasure.”


Tony Kelly remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Tony Kelly played for Bolton Wanderers in over 100 games between 1991 and 1994. He returned to the club as the Fans’ Liaison Officer in 2008, a role he now combines with the position of Under-18s Assistant Coach.

Kelly said: “I don’t think there has ever been a better example of the saying ‘local boy done good’. He was a great ambassador for the football club and the town of Bolton.

“He will rightly be remembered as a legend but I will always remember him as a gentleman. When I first came to the club in 1991 from Shrewsbury Town I was struggling to find my best form. I was a bit despondent and Nat noticed this and singled me out.

“I came into training one morning and he took my out to the side of the pitch, put his arm around me and said: “Come on Cocker, just go back to basics”. He helped me to get my confidence back and I will always be grateful for that. For Nat Lofthouse to do that, it meant everything.

“That was just the man that he was – he was very modest and had time for the people. And the people had time for him because everyone recognises just what he did for the football club, not just as a player but even after he retired. He has been associated with the club since he was 14-years-old and he will be long into the future.

“He was Bolton Wanderers through and through and he will be a big loss to the football club. My sympathy goes out to his family.”


Ian Seddon remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Midfielder Ian Seddon played for Bolton Wanderers first-team for four years between 1969 and 1973, after being handed his debut by Nat Lofthouse. He now works on a matchday at the Reebok Stadium as a Corporate Host.

Seddon said: “Nat was a champion for young Bolton players who had come through the ranks. He was never afraid to blood youngsters who he deemed good enough.

“I was a local lad from Walkden who had dreamed from being a kid of pulling on the white shirt of Bolton Wanderers. Nat made my wish a reality in September 1969 when I made my debut at 18-years-old at Cardiff City.

“A number of my former team-mates from our days as apprentices were also gratefully of Nat's trust and encouragement in their ability. Along with myself, those included Paul Fletcher and Garry Jones, who had been nurtured through the youth and reserve teams by George Taylor & Jim Conway.

“In January 1971 Nat selected possibly the youngest ever Bolton team to play table-topping Sheffield United at Burnden Park in the old Second Division. United had club legend Tony Currie in their team.

“Granada and Yorkshire television screened the game live and eight of the 11 Bolton players were aged 20 or under, with Paul Jones at 17-years-old making his debut.

“Despite losing an early goal Nat's faith was fully justified and Bolton emerged 2-1 winners in a game still fondly remembered to this day by the club's older supporters.”

The Wanderers team was:
Boswell,Ritson,Hulme,P.Jones,McAllister,Redfern,Waldron,Seddon,Phillips,Fletcher,G.Jones.


Syd Farrimond remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Syd Farrimond not only played and trained alongside Nat, but was in the side during his first game as manager of the club.

Farrimond said: “I signed in 1958 which was obviously the cup final winning year. Myself, being just 18-years-old, to be in the same team as someone like Nat was an amazing experience. All of the older players were great, but Nat obviously stood out as captain.

“I made my debut in October of that year and I think I was the only change to that cup winning final team. It was obviously a nerve-wracking moment, but I remember Nat coming up to me and putting an arm around me. He was telling me to just go out there and be myself and that was a great feeling.

“Nat was always a really down to earth guy. He always used to reiterate how lucky we all were to be playing football for a living. Nat would give anything he could for the football club and would do it to the best of his ability. He was a Bolton man through and through.

“We once went away on a pre-season tour to South Africa and you spent every day with the players for six weeks. That helped show a different side to Nat off the field because he was himself, but still a model professional.

“When he took over as manager he didn’t like dropping people because he was such a nice person. I remember when he finished playing and was involved with the youth and reserve teams. When the teams used to play one another in training, he was always quick to make sure his side didn’t lose and always made sure everyone treated it like a proper game.

“In training if you ever ran into him it felt like you’d hit a brick wall. He wasn’t the biggest, but he was solid and had a tremendous shot. Not only that, but he had a great leap on him. Just looking back now you realise how much of a talented player he was. His goalscoring record was remarkable, and very few players are able to replicate that nowadays. Even with his record, he was still unbelievable modest.”


Andrew Dean remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Andrew Dean is the Promotions Manager at Bolton Wanderers. He is regularly seen by supporters, particularly on a matchday where he helps coordinate the pre-match and half-time activities at pitchside. He joined the club in 1994 and worked alongside Nat on a daily basis for a number of years.

Dean said: “Having worked closely with Nat for 17 years, it really is the end of an era.

“While so many people have written about his football career, both with Bolton Wanderers and England, I remember Nat fondly as a friend and work colleague.

“Nat was a constant presence at the Club, both at Burnden Park and at the Reebok Stadium until his health prevented him from working, but he was a regular visitor on matchdays when he came to the watch his beloved team in action.

“Nat thoroughly enjoyed coming into work at Bolton Wanderers, from the first day he signed for the Club on Monday 4 September 1939 to his very last working day. He always said that he had the “best job in the world”.

“One of the things I remember so clearly about Nat was his humility. He was always so appreciative of the respect that the fans and the people of Bolton gave him. On many an occasion I have heard a fan thank him for his autograph, but Nat would always reply, “no, thank-you for asking”.

“While his views on Sir Stanley Matthews and Sir Tom Finney have been well documented, it was Mark Hughes of the modern era who Nat felt was the player most like himself. He always made a point of watching Mark play whenever he could and would always meet with him when he visited Bolton Wanderers Football Club.

“As many people will know, Nat worked tirelessly in the early 1980s when our former Chairman, the late Terry Edge, introduced the Lifeline scheme. Nat appealed to the people of Bolton to help to save Bolton Wanderers Football Club at what was a very difficult time financially.

“There are so many stories to tell. Nat lived a full and exciting life. He will be sadly missed by so many but none more so than all of us here in the Promotions Department who worked alongside him for very many years.

“No-one epitomises the spirit of Bolton Wanderers Football Club more than Nat Lofthouse OBE.

“Nat it has been a pleasure to have known you, to have worked with you and to have been your friend.”


John McGinlay remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

                                  ‘Super’ John McGinlay is a cult hero at Bolton Wanderers, who synonymous with the success achieved at Bolton Wanderers in the early 1990s. He scored 118 goal for the club following his transfer from Millwall.

McGinlay said: “I loved the man to bits. He’d always be there with a smile and a ‘morning Sir John’ when you’d come into the club, and it was that common touch that made him special to the lads.

“He had done it all in the game, yet there wasn’t a single hint of arrogance in the man. He would give you advice if you wanted it but would never to down to you.

“Bruce Rioch used to sit players down and point to as an example of loyalty in football club. Bolton Wanderers was his club. It didn’t matter whether it was the Reebok Stadium or Burnden Park, he loved to be there, and feel a part of things, even if his health meant he eventually couldn’t do that as much as he would have liked.

“I remember doing a promotional thing at the stadium one day with him. We had our picture taken holding a new ticket that was going on sale, I got a copy given back to me and he signed it. That remains one of my most treasured possessions.

“I’ll remember him as a strapping figure of a man who, despite everything he had achieved and done in the game, had time to talk, a smile on his face, and the right advice to give. I’ll never forget.”


Dean Holdsworth remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

Dean Holdsworth played for Bolton Wanderers between 1997 and 2003. Like Nat, he was a combative centre-forward whose heading ability was a constant threat for defenders.

Holdsworth said: “I knew about Nat Lofthouse the legend before I came to Bolton but it was only when I got there that I got to know Nat Lofthouse the man.

“I had many a chat with about football and being a centre-forward I had a strong affinity with him. The man is a legend in every sense of the word and he is what Bolton Wanderers is all about.

“It is sad to lose someone like Nat and my thoughts go out to his family and everyone up there at the football club. But the memory of the man will live on.”

 


Gordon Taylor OBE remembers Nat Lofthouse OBE

 

Gordon Taylor OBE was a regular fixture in the Bolton Wanderers teams of the 1960s playing over 250 games and chipping in with over half a century of goals. The former winger is now the Head of the Professional Footballers’ Association.

Taylor said: “I remember him not only as a great character but also as the finest centre-forward that England has ever had and certainly that Bolton Wanderers ever had.

"He’s up there with the very greatest players. He was a hero of mine as a youngster and in the very first live game that I saw he got a hat-trick when up against the great centre-half Jimmy Dickinson of Portsmouth.

"Sometimes you can be disappointed when you meet your heroes in reality but he was even better. I played under him and he was a great person and a great footballer who will remain forever in the memory of every Bolton and football fan who saw and met him."