Fantasy Grudge Match: Wolves' Greatest Xl v Bolton's Greatest Xl

Wolves and Bolton hate each other with a passion, here two fans select the best players they have seen in the flesh for a hypothetical clash...
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Wolves and Bolton hate each other with a passion, here two fans select the best players they have seen in the flesh for a hypothetical clash...

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Fantasy Grudge Match: Wolves' Greatest Xl v Bolton's Greatest Xl

Wolves Greatest Xl by Dave Blackhurst

GK: Phil Parkes

Tricky call this. I would argue that we’ve not had a world-class keeper since Bert Williams. I never saw him play so Phil gets the number 1 shirt. That’s not to disparage Parkes or any of the other goalies we’ve had over the years. Stowell, Burridge and Bradshaw were all fine players but Phil was the one I admired most. He was big, brave and could boot the ball miles – qualities that I cherished in the man between the sticks when I was 13.  8

RB: Geoff Palmer

Great hair, great attitude, great servant. An uncompromising full back with almost 500 appearances in the old gold and black, Palmer was local lad and life-long supporter. If it’s not to damn him with faint praise, Geoff was the type of solid professional that every team needs. Became a copper when he left the game, I’d like to think a solidly professional one.  8

CB: Frank Munro

Tough but stylish sums up Frank Munro. He started as a forward, was signed by us as a midfielder and served forever after as centre back, and a damn good one at that. There are quite a few opposing forwards who could vouch for Frank’s toughness. The Molineux faithful will vouch for his style. Football fans everywhere, with the exception of those in Leeds, rejoiced when one of Frank’s rare goals denied Revie’s side the double in ’72 and handed the title to Clough’s Derby. What a night.9

CB: Joleon Lescott

We were devastated when Joleon signed for Everton, the kind of devastation that is tinged with a little bit of pride. We knew he was too good not to be snapped up and it was only a matter of time. He’d been talked up as a future star since joining the Wolves Academy and he didn’t disappoint. He had the skill, presence and vision required to be a top class defender.  An unfortunate knee injury (that gave conspiracy theorists a field day) kept him out of our first venture back in the Premiership. We like to think we would have survived if Lescott had been fit. We also like to believe he’ll come back when he’s had enough of City.   9

LB: Derek Parkin

Although he began as a right back, Bill McGarry moved him across to the left and there he stayed – forever it seemed. Parkin holds the record for most Wolves appearances and consequently is probably the player I’ve watched more than any other. He used the ball well and was never one to aimlessly boot it away if he could see an opportunity for a decent pass. If that opportunity was Waggy champing at the bit, so much the better. 8

RM: Kenny Hibbitt

We got Kenny for peanuts from Bradford Park Avenue in 1968 and for the next 16 years he gave 100% (we didn’t have 120% back then.) 114 goals in 574 games illustrates his attacking credentials but Hibbitt added the industry and creativity that marks out an accomplished midfielder. We loved him and when he came to the Molineux as coach with Bristol Rovers in the late 80’s he received the longest, loudest and most heartfelt ovation I’ve ever experienced.  9

CM: Ron Flowers

You could argue that, as a Wolves fan, I was born too late. By the 63-64 season most of the stars of the 50’s had hung up their boots and the glory days had come to an end. Mind you, the vast majority of the supporters had lived through that era and weren’t shy in pointing out that some poor so and so wasn’t fit to lace Mullen/Wright/Slater’s boots. If the vitriol didn’t stun the poor lad then the collective exhalations of beer and woodbine breath would. Ron, and my next choice, are the only players from the ‘Champions of the World’ team (Daily Mail) who were still playing regularly. An England stalwart who narrowly missed out on appearing in the ’66 World Cup final, Flowers was a strong, imposing player with a ferocious shot. 10

CM: Peter Broadbent

When the great George Best says you’re the player he most admired then you must have something going for you. Jimmy Greaves rated Broadbent too, as did regular crowds of 40,000 plus. Peter was a magician with the ball and a powerhouse in midfield. He was criminally underused by England, the prevailing theory being that Wolves already had their fair share of international players. The FA was obviously as useless then as it is today.   9

LM: Dave Wagstaffe

There was no more joyous sight than watching Waggy fly down the left, beat a defender or two and ping in a pinpoint cross. Then watch him do it again and again and again. He probably set up more goals than any other player of his era and was probably clattered into the advertising hoardings more than most as well. We absolutely loved him. 9

CF: Peter Knowles

Having a flawed genius for an idol can be trying at times. One week Knowles could be petty, disinterested and putting in yet another transfer request. The following week he would be sublime, bamboozling opponents with his skill and vision. He was by far the best player in the old second division for the two seasons Wolves played there. Things looked promising when we got back to the top flight in ‘67, none more so than the Dougan/Knowles partnership. Two seasons later, at 24, he quit football. He had it all but in the end he became ‘God’s Footballer’ (© Billy Bragg) and arguably one of the game’s greatest losses. We held on to his registration until ’82 when it became obvious, to one of the parties at least, that a Second Coming wasn’t on. Nice bloke though – when he first joined Wolves he was lodging with my mate’s neighbour and me and Alan used to call for him on a Sunday morning for a game of ‘three and in.’ 10

CF: Steve Bull

If Knowles was my idol then Bully was my hero. To have been able to see them play together would have been heaven. I won’t trot out The Tatter’s stats – suffice it to say that not only does he get into my best Wolves side, I’d also put him in my best side in the world ever. There may be more skilful players out there but none with more heart and more determination to break the back of the onion bag. Three against The Baggies and the old airplane celebration is the stuff of dreams. 10

Wolves total: 99

Bolton Wanderers Greatest Xl by Michael Green

Goalkeeper: Jussi Jaaskelainen

An obvious choice but it simply has to be Jussi. Gets the nod over Keith Branagan as he has been one of the Premiership’s top keepers over the past 10 years. In his prime (i.e. during the heady days of consecutive top 8 finishes) he undoubtedly saved us 10-15 points per season.9/10

Right Back: Gudni Bergsson

Gudni will occupy the right back slot in my line-up. He’s played there before and, despite primarily being a centre-half, he fits the bill here better than anyone I can think of. An absolute bargain at £65,000, he will man this position with vigilance, class and complete composure. A true Bolton legend. 9/10

Centre Half: Gerry Taggart

Players appeal to me when they are what I like to refer to as ‘growlers’ and Taggart was one of the biggest growlers of them all. An uncompromising beast of a player, he was a typical no-nonsense centre-half. He simply bulldozed people off the ball and did what needed to be done, whether that was a simple pass to a team-mate or hoofing it into row Z. And he did it very well indeed. 8/10

Centre Half: Bruno N’Gotty

One of the classiest players I’ve seen in a Bolton shirt, Bruno was also built like a tank but in addition he possessed a silky finesse on the ball which appears to be a given with the more refined players to arrive on these shores from other parts of the continent. A stalwart who would have formed a perfect centre-half partnership with big Ged. Quite simply a wonderful player. 9.5/10

Left Back: Ricardo Gardner

Loyalty and versatility are two valuable attributes in the modern game, hence the inclusion of Ricky. Having signed for Bolton following the 1998 World Cup (it’s easy to forget that Jamaica did grace the finals in France that year), Ricky remains a first team player to this day. Capable of playing at left-back, left-wing or through the middle, Ricky bags the left-back spot in my team. It potentially leaves that side a little vulnerable at times but his inclusion will allow my team to be fluid and adapt to various situations with more than a little guile, gusto and pace. 8.5/10

Centre Midfield (Holding Role): Fernando Hierro

The cynics (myself included) were doubting the signing of Hierro. An aging European veteran seemingly out for one last pay day? How wrong we all were. His stay at the Reebok might have been all too short but in Fernando we had the finest player I’ve ever seen in a Bolton shirt. At the age of 36 he slotted effortlessly into the midfield holding role and dictated play in a way I’d never seen before. Possessing an almost-supernatural ability to afford himself ridiculous amounts of time on the ball, his vision was exemplary and his passing was simply sublime. Gifted, committed and brilliant – it was a joy to witness such a legend, even if only for a fleeting amount of time. Upon seeing him in the local Tesco a couple of months after he called it a day, my wife couldn’t understand why I wanted to kiss his sacred feet there and then. There are some things you just can’t explain to a woman who doesn’t like football… 10/10

Left Wing: Jeff Chandler

I have to include a player from the days when I were a lad and Jeff gets the nod. Despite primarily being a right-winger, I’m sure I saw him drift to the left quite frequently (unless my judgement as an 8 year old was clouded by too many flying saucers and sherbet dib-dabs) so that’s where he plays in my team. A winger of real attacking potency, he was mercurial, downright cocky and brilliant. Any player who takes the ball to the touchline, puts one foot on it, holds his hands out (palms upwards) and beckons the right back to ‘come on then’ (before skinning him) deserves a place in this team. And yes – I did see him do that. As a mere nipper I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. 7.5/10

Right Wing: Michael Johansen

There is absolutely no competition for the right-wing berth. Signing for the club at the same time as Per Frandsen (who makes my bench on the strength of his awesome displays in his first spell with the club), the pair were instrumental in taking Bolton out of the Championship and into the Premiership in the 96-97 season.Johansen was tiny (I thought we’d signed Ronnie Corbett upon first setting eyes on him) but he had electric pace and great delivery. And best of all? He always played with a huge beaming grin on his face. You just couldn’t help but love the guy, especially during his frequent efforts to whip the crowd into a frenzy. One of the biggest bargains in the club’s recent history.8/10

Centre Midfield: JJ Okocha

Where to start? The fact that he had his very own showboat slot during the glory days of Soccer AM? The other-worldly display against Aston Villa in the 1st leg of the Carling Cup semi-final in 2004? The quite ridiculous audacity of some of the moves he attempted? Any and all of the above apply. A joy to watch, a true entertainer and, on his day, simply untouchable. The old cliché of paying the entrance money just to watch him certainly applies here. In fact, in his pomp, I’d have paid the entrance money just to watch him sitting on the khazi reading Whizzer & Chips, such was the brilliance of the man. I’m willing to bet that, in the sanctity of his own netty, he even curled No.2’s out in a spectacular manner. 9.5/10

Attacking Midfield / Centre Forward: Youri Djorkaeff

The most difficult decision of all – to include John McGinlay, Kevin Davies or Youri alongside Anelka. Well the title is the best XI Bolton players I’ve seen in the flesh and, if Davo or Super John are reading this, sorry fellas but Youri was one hell of a player. Initial opinions amongst many here were that Big Sam had taken yet another gamble on an aging maverick but such thoughts proved extremely naïve. A truly wonderful player, he was one of the catalysts for the period of (relative) success in the early part of the 00’s. My heart beats fast when imagining just how well he and Anelka would have complimented each other. 9.5/10

Centre Forward: Nicolas Anelka

Just behind Hierro as the finest player I’ve ever seen in a Bolton shirt. Another perceived gamble by Big Sam, in reality another absolute master-stroke. Signed for £8 million, sold for £15 million with a hatful of glorious goals to boot in the interim. Never sulky and always willing to work for the team, Anelka was the model pro during his time at the Reebok. And that 25 yard curler against Arsenal during his first season with us? Sexier than Girls Aloud contesting a bikini-clad wrestling match with The Saturdays in a vat full of custard. 9.9/10

Bolton total: 97.4

Final score Wolves 99 - 97.4 Bolton

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