GARY Megson used to joke that Chris Basham wasn’t good enough for Rochdale’s first team – but that he was quite happy to throw him into his own.
It was tongue in cheek, of course, but evidence of how close the former Academy midfielder came to leaving Wanderers before the much-maligned manager walked through the doors.
Basham had been loaned out at Stafford Rangers and Rochdale with mixed success before Megson gave him his big Premier League break as a substitute against his native Sunderland in November 2008. A couple of months later he was starting for the Whites in successive games against Arsenal and Manchester United.
And as such, the midfielder remains one of an exclusive set of people in these parts who remembers Megson’s reign with much fondness.
“I got my break under Gary Megson, a manager I thought a lot of and still do,” he said, as he prepares to return to the Reebok with Blackpool for this afternoon’s FA Cup clash.
“I have to thank him for everything he did for me.
“They have great fans at Bolton and it was a really enjoyable stage of my career.
“I love going back there.”
Basham remains one of the few products of the youth system to have been moved on for a significant fee, with Ian Holloway having paid £1million for his services when the seaside club were promoted to the Premier League in 2010.
His last appearance at the Reebok was cut short at the end of last season as Blackpool frustrated Wanderers in the second half, earning a draw that ultimately cost them a play-off place.
Recently he has filled in across the back four for Paul Ince’s depleted side but is more likely to line up today in midfield, where he could come up against a former team-mate in Mark Davies.
Little wonder he is looking forward to the trip.
“I want to go and show how I’ve played this season for Blackpool,” he said. “I don’t know what position I’ll be in, but hopefully I’ll be involved.
“Bolton aren’t playing well themselves so it could be a good time to go there and play them.
“It will be good to go there and get a smile back on our faces.
“I spoke to Mark the other day and he got man of the match, which was great for him after his problems.
“It will be great to go there and play against him. I don’t know if he’ll be involved as they are trying to look after him, but it will be good to see him.”