BURGLARS broke into football manager Sam Allardyce’s home and stole a fake designer watch, a court heard.
They broke into his house in Bromley Cross as Mr Allardyce, known as “Big Sam”, was with his West Ham squad for a match against Crystal Palace in London on December 3.
And yesterday Anthony Jackson appeared at Bolton Crown Court charged with handling the stolen watch. He claimed he bought it from another man.
He was jailed for two years for handling and for breaking into a house in Bradshaw.
Former Bolton Wanderers manager Mr Allardyce has praised police for their swift response following the break-in.
He said: “The magnificent and early response by the police was outstanding and one of the main reasons that this man has been caught and I’m very pleased that he has been brought to justice.”
Police arrived within five minutes of the burglar alarm going off at Mr Allardyce’s home, Bolton Crown Court heard, but by then a “Rolex” watch had been taken from a bedside table.
West Ham lost 1-0 to Crystal Palace and, in a post-match interview Mr Allardyce declared himself “frustrated and angry” with his team’s performance.
Prosecuting barrister Roger Brown said: “It was probably known to the burglars that the owner was not there at the time because he has got a job in West Ham.”
Jackson pleaded guilty to handling the manager’s watch, plus a burglary at another upmarket Bolton house.
Defending barrister, Nicholas Ross, said: “It was certainly not a good day for Mr Allardyce.”
Mr Brown said that, following the burglary at Mr Allardyce’s home, police had initially valued his missing watch at £500, but then it was discovered the timepiece was a fake and was awaiting repair at the time it was taken.
When arrested two days later Jackson, aged 21, of Halliwell Road, Bolton, claimed he had bought the watch from a man in Cheetham Hill, but Mr Allardyce identified it as his.
Mr Ross told Bolton Crown Court: “He (Jackson) realised himself that it was probably a fake or counterfeit watch.
“He was gobsmacked when he learned it belonged to the manager of West Ham football club.”
Mr Brown said that police also recovered a wallet at Jackson’s home, which he had stolen in a burglary at a house off Bradshaw Road, Bradshaw, on November 20.
He added that the owners, Ian and Karen Thorpe, went to work at 7am, leaving the property secure.
But gardeners, who arrived at the home in the afternoon, discovered patio doors had been broken and the house, and the adjoining self-contained flat used by the owners’ son, had been ransacked.
Contents to the value of £4,800 were stolen and CCTV footage showed two men inside the house.
Blood discovered in the flat was identified as belonging to Jackson.
Mr Ross said the burglary was committed out of desperation as Jackson, who has a criminal record dating back to 2006, owed money for rent and had lost a part-time market job.
“I can’t believe I have sunk so low,” he told police after he was arrested.
Recorder Abigail Hudson jailed Jackson for two years.