Sam Allardyce thanked the fans who turned out in force to see him back in the Wanderers’ dug out and managing some of the club’s modern-day greats.
Allardyce returned to manage a Bolton All Stars XI against the current Wanderers’ squad for Sunday’s fund-raiser in aid of Karen Jones – mother of current defender Gethin – and MND research.
A magnificent crowd of 13,187 saw Ian Evatt’s Wanderers win the game 7-4 – including a hat-trick from the boss – and Allardyce admitted the turn-out at the University of Bolton Stadium had made a special occasion even better.
“I loved it and the fans made it,” said Allardyce, who was warmly welcomed back to the club where he spent eight years in charge and guided Wanderers to the top six of the Premier League and a first ever place in Europe in 2005.
“It wouldn’t have been the same without so many there.
“It was incredible turn-out and magnificent to see so many coming to watch some of the great players we’ve had here and the team Ian has got now.
“It was lovely to see the players back and to catch up with them all and – most importantly – raise a lot of money for such an important cause.”
Allardyce reprised his famous dance moves with Jay Jay Okocha after Okocha – who made almost 150 appearances for the Whites from 2002-2006 in a golden period for the club – had opened the scoring for the All Stars.
The lead wouldn’t last but no-one went home unhappy as the Wanderers’ ‘family’ united to support one of their own.
“It was the perfect weekend. It’s the best weekend I’ve had since I’ve been at the club,” said Evatt, who also attended Saturday night’s fund-raising dinner with his first-team squad.
“The performance and the win (over Crewe) on Friday was vitally important to make sure this weekend we could be relaxed and enjoy it.
“The way the club came together – people behind the scenes working their socks off to make it happen – and the fans, 13,000 of them turning out to see their new heroes and definitely the old ones, was fantastic for a wonderful family and a great cause.”
The Jones family launched an appeal to raise £250,000 after Karen, a former midwife, was diagnosed with MND at the age of 56 in July.
The fund will help finance treatment under a drug trial in the United States and on-going care, as well as contributing 25 per cent of monies raised to the Darby Rimmer Foundation which helps those with MND and finances research into a condition which currently has no cure.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fund can do via the Jones’ Just Giving page, which can be found HERE