Club employee Boyd Crossley was recently presented with a special award to commemorate his 23 years of service to Bolton Wanderers, with all at the club wishing him well in his retirement.
Boyd, who initially started out within the club’s Football in the Community set-up at Burnden Park under the leadership of Geoff Lomax in the early 1990s, has worked in a number of roles during his time with the Whites.
And official club mascot Lofty the Lion was on hand to make the pitch-side presentation to a well-deserving employee.
Boyd, a lifelong Bolton Wanderers fan, has helped the iconic figure of Lofty along his journey since day one of his introduction to the club’s faithful.
Based on legendary striker Nat Lofthouse – a man who was incredibly proud to be remembered in such a way – the “Lion of Vienna” often spoke of his love for Lofty, right until his passing in January 2011.
Signing for the Trotters and making his debut on September 9, 1995 against Middlesbrough following the Whites’ promotion to the Premiership for the first time, Lofty’s inaugural appearance on the touchline resulted in a 1-1 draw with Bolton’s goal being scored by Super John McGinlay.
Since that day meanwhile, Lofty has seen it all whilst rallying the troops on a matchday and even further afield into Europe and beyond and various other events that he has been asked to take part in.
And following the presentation to Boyd, Lofty reflected over some of the key moments of his time with the club to date.
“It’s hard to believe that I’ve been involved with Bolton Wanderers for over two decades, and what a time it has been so far,” he said. “There is undoubtedly an exciting future ahead for the Whites, and after our dramatic and magical escape against Nottingham Forest on Sunday, there is a real roar and buzz around the club.
“That game will never leave me, but it’s simply just been added to the numerous fantastic memories that I’ve had with Bolton Wanderers since I signed for the club back in 1995.
“I remember my first non-football event as Lofty – I actually got asked to attend a wedding and ended up in the church, having my photos taken with the bride, groom and bridesmaids!
“I was amazed how much love there was for me and the response that the club received was incredible – I truly became a part of Bolton Wanderers, it was a hugely special time for me and I was very proud to be involved.”
He continued: “Even aside from matchdays, I was the face of the Junior Whites and from there, I made many hospital and hospice visits, home visits and took part in presentations – wherever there is a special event in Bolton, nine times out of ten, I’m asked to attend and it is as big an honour now as it was back in those days..
“I have also always had a special relationship with the mayors of Bolton.”
Whilst reflecting on his most memorable moments representing the club to date meanwhile, Lofty spoke of his unique relationship with supporters of Wolverhampton Wanderers courtesy of a game against them at Burnden Park in the 1990s.
Moving around the pitch at half-time, Lofty performed his instantly recognisable routine in front of the away end – only to be pelted with pies by the visiting fans!
A moment which has never been forgotten by those associated with the club, it is still a talking point to this day amongst the two sets of supporters, with it still bringing a grin to Lofty’s face when he speaks of it.
“It speaks volumes about that particular incident that even when we played Wolves at Macron Stadium a couple of weeks ago, the reception I received from their fans well and truly took me back to the Burnden Park days,” he explained.
Although Lofty’s main purpose is naturally to represent Bolton Wanderers Football Club, he has also helped numerous charities to raise much needed funds down the years and continues to do so.
One of his most notable events meanwhile was when he took place in the Mascot Grand National at Huntington Race Course for a number of years, with him a constantly requested figure by the organisers of the competition.
His time with the Whites has not been without its controversy however, with one particular televised Sky Sports game seeing him sent to the stands by referee Mark Clattenburg, leading to a now iconic phrase from the commentator of, “We see the lion has been caged!”
In more recent years, Lofty has ventured further afield than Burnden Park and then Macron Stadium, with him representing Wanderers over in Las Vegas to raise money for MedEquip4Kids.
Their aim was to tour the Grand Canyon with the final destination being the famous strip in Vegas, with Lofty smiling at the thought of that memorable trip.
“As many people know, I am a big fan of the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Elvis Presley, and my numerous events where I have been dressed in that famous suit in a tribute sums up my adoration for him.
“To walk down the strip in my Elvis costume was a fantastic experience and people, despite not knowing who I was, wanted their photographs taken with me!
“To be able to put Bolton Wanderers on a global scale is something I am incredible proud of and I will never forget it.”
There are many memorable moments from Lofty’s time with the Trotters over the course of the past twenty-plus years, but none more so than him becoming a world-record holder for being one of 54 mascots in one place at the same time in June 2002, with names travelling from far and wide to earn the accolade and raise charitable funds in the process.
Speaking about that particular award, Lofty said, “We were absolutely over the moon to get our names into the Guinness Book of Records, and in turn, it helped to spread the Bolton Wanderers name even further afield.
“It’s something that I’m still incredible proud of and seeing my name in there is something that will always make me smile.
“These are just a few of the magical moments I have had other the years however and although summer will still be a busy time for me as always, I am hugely looking forward to the 2018/19 Sky Bet Championship season come August when I’ll be ready and raring to go as the team take to the field once again.”