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League One

Bolton Wanderers set to reach 5000 league games

10 February 2023

Bolton Wanderers will mark their 5000th league game this weekend when the Trotters travel to Peterborough United in Sky Bet League One.

Ian Evatt’s side pay a visit to fellow promotion contenders Peterborough at the Weston Homes Stadium, with the Trotters occupying fifth place, whilst the Posh sit just outside the Play-Off places.

Messages of congratulations have flooded in for the Club, who become the fifth team to do so, as they tick off a milestone fixture in their history.

Former defender David Wheater spent nine years on Bolton’s books, joining the Trotters as a Premier League outfit, but enjoyed his best years in Greater Manchester when the Club won promotion from League One in 2016/17.

“Bolton Wanderers were my home for 10 years and I loved every single minute of it,” he said. “I felt like I played 5000 games at the end of my time there! My family and my kids grew up there in Bolton; it was a family-orientated Club.

“It was probably the best time I’ve had in football. My one regret is probably leaving Bolton, but you learn from your mistakes. Hopefully they get back where they belong.”

Wanderers bounced back at the first time of asking, finishing runners-up to Sheffield United in the automatic promotion spots.

The following season followed suit and in similar fashion, Bolton secured survival on the final day of the 2017/18 campaign. Wheater, who eventually moved on to Oldham Athletic, made the scoresheet as the Trotters edged Nottingham Forest 3-2 to preserve their Championship status.

“My favourite memory is the Port Vale game when I scored,” he recalled. “It was a cracker. I thought we were going up, but it wasn’t to be. We took it to the last game and that was terrific.

“The next season, it took us to the last game to get safe but what a feeling when we did it. Alby [Aaron Wilbraham] should’ve scored about 10 goals in that game, but he got the winner in the end in the 88th minute. I don’t think I’ve ever ran so fast after it went in for the celebration.”

Rewind almost three decades ago when Bolton reached the 1995 League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

Midfielder David Lee was a part of the side that lost out to Liverpool, as Roy Evans’ Reds overcame Wanderers 2-1 on the day.

“I had some great times at the Club, winning Championships and getting to the League Cup Final,” Lee added. “I’ve got great memories of the town, the supporters and the Football Club in general has given me some good times.

“What the Club has been through in the last few years, it’s great to see them back on the highs of League One football and hopefully back into the Championship next year.

“It’s great to see them achieving 5000 league games and hopefully, they can continue that and go from strength to strength. It’s only been done by another couple of Football Clubs. To reach 5000 league games is some achievement.”

Bolton spent a number of memorable years competing in the top-flight, attracting the services of European champion Stelios Giannakopoulos.

The Greek international had a chance at silverware again with the Club in 2004 when Bolton made it to the League Cup Final once again, but tasted defeat at the hands of Middlesbrough in the Final.

Nevertheless, he looks back on his time at the University of Bolton Stadium with fondness.

“I’m very proud that I was part of the Club’s history in recent years,” he said. “It was an unbelievable time for me and my family both on and off the pitch. We reached the European positions during my run in the five years that I was playing for the Club from 2003 until 2008. 

“It’s such a massive achievement for the Club, one of the most historical Clubs in England. I’m very optimistic that the Club will do well again.”

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