Legendary boss Sam Allardyce will be back in charge when he returns to Wanderers next month.
Allardyce – one of the most successful managers in Wanderers’ history – will lead the All Star side to face a current Bolton team in the Gethin Jones MND charity match at the University of Bolton Stadium.
As well as raising vital funds to help pay for treatment and support for Gethin’s mum Karen, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in July, the match on Sunday, 14 November (KO 1pm) will bring back together a number of the players who Allardyce moulded into a Premier League force.
And the 66-year-old is looking forward to being reunited with some of the stars who made Wanderers a regular presence at the top end of the Premier League table and took the club into Europe for the first time in their history after finishing sixth in 2005.
“It will be great to see the old gang. It’s been a long time,” said Allardyce.
“I saw Stelios and Ricardo Gardner the other week. They popped around for a cup of tea.
“I hadn’t seen them for years so it was good to see them and at this game there will more of them to catch up with and see what they’re doing with their lives.
“It’s been a long time, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Former Wanderers striker Kevin Davies – signed by Allardyce in 2003 – has been instrumental in contacting many of his former team-mates to see if they are able to play and join him in Allardyce’s squad.
As well as Gardner and Stelios Giannakopoulos, Davies has also spoken to the likes of Ivan Campo, Jay-Jay Okocha, Henrik Pedersen, Jussi Jaaskelainen, Kevin Nolan, Gudni Bergsson and Nicky Hunt.
And Allardyce – who managed the Whites from 1999-2007 after starting his playing career with the club – says seeing them again will rekindle fantastic memories of an epic time in Wanderers’ recent history.
“Only good memories,” added the former England boss, who led Wanderers back to the Premier League in 2001 before securing the club’s best top-flight finish for almost half a century four years later.
“It was a great transformation in the period we had and we had some wonderful players.
“It was just a dream, not just for me and the players playing together but also the fans.
“I’ll never forget the atmosphere when the ‘Reebok’ was full.
“It was the best time a lot of them ever had and certainly one of the best I had – apart from being a player myself because nothing really substitutes that.
“That eight years was fantastic.”
Allardyce’s return – along with many of his former players – is sure to generate even more interest in the charity game and further boost ticket sales.
Wanderers are also hosting a fund-raising dinner the night before and Allardyce is happy to be making his ‘comeback’ for such a worthy cause.
“It should be a good evening beforehand and then great to see everyone at the match with a few beers afterwards,” he said.
“MND is such a horrible illness and I know the supporters will rally around to support Gethin and his mum and family.”
With no current cure for MND, Wanderers’ full-back Jones and his family are aiming to raise funds to cover costs for treatment for Karen in the United States and future care – as well as research into MND through the Darby Rimmer Foundation, co-founded by former Bolton defender Stephen Darby.
Tickets for the match, costing £10 and £5, are available to buy HERE
Wanderers are also hosting a special black-tie charity dinner in aid of the appeal in the Lion of Vienna suite at the University of Bolton Stadium on Saturday, 13 November (from 7pm).
Tables of 10 will cost £750 or £75 per person and are bookable via the Bolton Whites Hotel sales team on 01204 673610 and firstname.lastname@example.org