Having clocked up over 300 games for Wanderers, Julian Darby will fulfill personal ambition of his own on Saturday when he is involved with the first team staff for Bristol City’s visit to the Reebok Stadium.
Farnworth-born Darby, an enthusiastic midfielder during his playing days, spent seven years with Wanderers in a spell that ended in 1993 after a transfer to Coventry City.
As a result, Darby never had the opportunity to represent the Trotters at their multimillion pound 28,723-seater Reebok Stadium - home to the club since 1997.
Though having been given the nod by lifelong friend and the club’s current interim boss Jimmy Phillips to lend a helping hand with the first team, Darby is now set to play his part this coming Saturday.
“I obviously played at Burnden Park and really enjoyed my time there,” he explained on Friday at the club’s Euxton-based training facility. “After my playing career with Bolton had finished, the club then moved onto the Reebok Stadium.
“I remember thinking ‘well, I’m not going to play there anymore, but I’d love to be involved somehow in a game at the Reebok at some point’. Hopefully that’ll come true tomorrow and it will be a great honour.
“You only have to look at the Reebok from a distance to realise what a fantastic stadium it is and the set-up there is fantastic. As I say, it has always been an ambition of mine to be involved on a matchday there in some capacity.
“On Tuesdays I have been going down to the academy to help Nicky Spooner out with the under-16 team. It was as we were finishing our morning session that Sammy (Lee) pulled me to one side and said that he and Jimmy (Phillips) wanted to speak with me.
“That was when I found out what had happened with Owen (Coyle) and that Jimmy and Sammy had been put in temporary charge.
“I know the two of them very well, Jimmy from my schooldays and Sammy from his time at Bolton as a player, coach and manager. They asked me if I was willing to come and give them a hand in this interim period and that was very much it.
“We’re under no illusions. We don’t know how long it’s going to be. It maybe a few days, a couple of weeks, maybe a month – we don’t know.
“We’ll just keep going, keep preparing the best we can and doing what’s right both on and off the pitch. If we’re able to progress and move the team forward in that time then that would be fantastic.”
Darby’s credentials in this league are of a significantly high standard.
Working alongside Billy Davies, Darby has helped lead Preston North End, Derby County and Nottingham Forest to the play-offs.
He continued: “I’ve obviously been at three other clubs in this division and every year we’ve been in the play-offs. It’s a league that’s completely different from the Premier League.
“Even though I’ve been away from first team commitments for the last 16 months since we left Nottingham Forest, if Bolton are playing away from home I usually go to watch a Championship game in this region, be it Burnley, Blackpool or, more recently, Blackburn.
“I do know Andy Lonergan quite well from my time at Preston, plus I was with the youth team when he was coming up through the ranks there.
“I also know Tyrone Mears from our time at Preston and we took him to Derby in the year in which we got promoted.
“The rest of the players I obviously know through watching the side at the Reebok in the recent years. They’ve been the players I’ve been watching and hoping that they perform well and get the results.
“All being well that will be the case tomorrow and hopefully it’ll be a great experience.”