Sam Ricketts reckons the ovation given to Sam Allardyce on Sunday underlines his legendary status at the club.
The former Wanderers boss managed a legends team in the fundraiser and got the biggest cheer of the afternoon when he took his place in the dugout prior to kick-off.
Ricketts arrived at the club after Allardyce’s departure – but the former Wales international can clearly see the standing he still has at the club.
“He’s synonymous with Bolton Wanderers at their peak,” he said. “He was the huge reason why the club had that purple period for so long.
“He obviously loved coming back because when you do well at a club you have affection for it and it was reciprocated when he came out and took his place in the dugout before the game.”
Ricketts has been impressed by the current Wanderers boss, Ian Evatt, and the speed at which he has turned around fortunes at the UniBol in just under 18 months.
While there is plenty of work left to do before the Whites can return to the sort of levels they did under Big Sam, the former full-back believes they are slowly building in the right way.
“Everyone wants to see Bolton back in the Premier League, but that is going to be a long-term process,” he said.
“It is one step at a time, last year it was get promoted, this year is to consolidate and can you get up there, can you reach the play-offs in this league? There’s no reason why not but you want to go up with a group of players that can do well again.
“They’re on the up and long may that continue.”
Ricketts managed Shrewsbury Town in League One up until November 2020 but says he is now taking a break from the game.
“I’m done at the minute – I’ve opened a builder’s merchants instead,” he added.
“I’ll do that for a couple of years and pick and choose what I do in football.
“I don’t want to move, stay away from home five nights a week, that’s just me.”
Ricketts enjoyed his 90-minute shift for the legends, joking that he had given Evatt plenty of space to score his second-half hat-trick on purpose.
But he is also happy to see Wanderers looking a more stable and positive place than it did a few years ago.
“I enjoyed it, even though my knee is hanging off and it felt like I was being stabbed every step in the second half,” he said of the game. “But it was just great to be back playing in such a lovely atmosphere and for a great cause.
“I think what it showed, other than people supporting a very worthy cause, was that there is a lot of good feeling among former players for the club.
“There are lads who flew in from all over the world to help out a current player, and so many supporters who have turned out as well. So it shows there is a togetherness now.
“It is obviously a very different place than it was. I have spoken to Sharon (Brittan) a couple of times, at games, a few messages, and she has always come across very well and as someone who clearly wants the best for the club.
“And don’t forget they took over at one of the worst times, with Covid and everything, but it does feel like the club is going in the right direction now. And you can see they are playing a brand of football which will hopefully serve them well in the long-term.”
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