Nat Lofthouse statue in place
WORKMEN have installed the long-awaited tribute to one of Wanderers’ greatest ever servants.
The club took delivery of the bronze Nat Lofthouse statue by lorry shortly after 8am and a crane was used to life it on to the plinth before contractors started to fix it into position.
Sculptor Sean Hedges-Quinn then arrived on site to supervise the £100,000 statue’s final positioning to make sure it was at the correct angle.
The installation was watched over by Bolton Wanderers club chaplain Phil Mason and lifelong fan Cllr John Walsh in preparation for Saturday's grand unveiling, where fans will finally get a glimpse of the Lion of Vienna.
Mr Mason said: “The day has been a long time in coming.
“A lot of people passing have said it’s great to see it arriving and even after the last home game people were saying the plinth looked fantastic.
“Hopefully the sun shines and we can have a great unveiling.”
The unveiling ceremony will take place at the Reebok on Saturday and has been timed to coincide with what would have been Nat’s 88th birthday.
The club wants fans to gather at the statue for 10.30am, with the ceremony due to begin 15 minutes later.
Mr Mason will host the event and Whites chairman Phil Gartside and Mr Hedges-Quinn will speak before club owner Eddie Davies unveils the statue.
There will also be a few words from Nat’s son, Jeff and a dedication by Canon Alan Wolstenscroft who took part in Nat’s funeral service following his death in January 2011 .
Mr Hedges-Quinn has previously been commissioned to design statues of famous football figures Sir Bobby Robson and Sir Alf Ramsey and said his new venture brought its own challenges.
He said: “The hardest thing was finding pictures of Nat, there aren’t that many pictures around, most are of him playing or pulling funny faces after he’d scored!
“The other challenge was not just capturing his likeness but his power, he had an immense physique, he was a modern footballer and he could play today.
“Hopefully I’ve captured that, but we’ll find out at the unveiling.”
He added: “It’s the end of a story for me, and this is the cherry on the cake.”
The campaign to build the statue was launched in January last year and more than £35,000 has been raised by Whites fans.
The rest was raised from corporate sponsorship.
The £100,000 statue is based on a photograph of Nat carrying a ball onto the pitch. It is especially poignant as Nat’s final words were: “I’ve got the ball now, it’s a bit worn, but I’ve got it”.
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