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Ronan Darcy on his passion for Wanderers' survival fight

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse
There is a pause as Ronan Darcy ponders the enormity of what is being asked of him, a 19-year-old with just 15 first-team appearances to his name.

What would it mean to a player who has known nothing other than Bolton Wanderers since the age of eight to save them from relegation when the football world has written off their chances completely?

“What would it mean to me? Oh,” he replies, waiting a beat to compose his answer. “It would mean the world to me.”

If Keith Hill’s side are to achieve the ‘Impossible Dream’ they may have to lean heavily on the slender frame of Darcy, a young talent quite unique in the crop of Junior Whites who were forced into the fore earlier this season.

Whereas some of the teenagers who turned out at the height of Wanderers’ financial problems looked unprepared to do so, Darcy had something different.

His promise had been picked out by Phil Parkinson in what was a massively compromised pre-season but since Hill and David Flitcroft’s arrival in January the Ormskirk-born midfielder has continued to sand away the rough edges to command a regular place in the side.

Darcy’s talents have been honed over a decade in the youth ranks at Wanderers and he is one of 50 who have made at least one appearance in the first team since it was rebranded as an Academy in 1998.

Time has indeed flown, and even the debut made at Nottingham Forest on the final day of last season feels like it happened longer than seven months ago.

“It feels like ages since that game,” he told The Bolton News. “Since then I am training every day with the first team lads, so I am learning fast.”

Following the same path as Luca Connell did last season, Darcy has adapted well to senior football and was no doubt helped by an untimely injury to Ali Crawford, who had been the creative force in Wanderers midfield up until October.

Darcy had a front row view of a decade in which Wanderers dropped out of the Premier League, then the Championship, and very nearly went out of business altogether under the rogue ownership of Ken Anderson.

There is not a hint of regret, nor bitterness in his voice, however, when asked how the club has changed since he first walked in with his parents for a training session.

“It has all changed, everything, in fact I think we were training at Euxton back then,” he said. But honestly every single day has been brilliant. I love this club and it’s where I want to play.

“Words cannot describe what it means to me, especially at a young age, it’s a great feeling.

“I have watched players wear that shirt and thought ‘wow’ – it just makes you want to go and do the same. It’s such a thrill.”

Hill talked of his trust in Darcy after watching him dig in to help 10 men protect a point against Shrewsbury, and with January fast approaching the teenager’s form may have allowed him to concentrate recruitment efforts elsewhere.

The respect appears to be reciprocal, and though Darcy is not taking his first team run for granted, he believes he worked hard enough to earn a chance.

“The manager is a cracking guy,” he said. “He helps me every day in training and I’m trying to get out there on the pitch and show him and the fans what I can do.

“I am still young, so it’s keep learning, keep getting better. There’s always room for improvement but I am enjoying it.

“I feel lucky, of course I do, but I also know that I work hard every day. I feel like I deserve this chance because of what I have put in.

“It always comes down to how hard you work, whether you want it as much as the others. And I do. I always want to be out there on the pitch. I can’t wait for Burton.”


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