MARC Iles looks at whether any other keeper in Bolton’s history can match up to the big Finn JUSSI Jaaskelainen called time on a 15-year career with Wanderers this week, but can the Big Finn lay claim to being the best goalkeeper ever to represent the club?
Tributes have been pouring in for the 37-year-old, who has been the bedrock of the club’s Premier League era, making 361 of his 476 league appearances in the top flight.
At a cost of just £100,000, few would argue that the business done by Colin Todd back in 1997 was one of the best deals ever negotiated on the club’s behalf – but where does Jaaskelainen, pictured below, rate in the club’s long list of top stoppers?
For many Whites fans, he is all they know. Dominant in the goalkeeper’s slot for around a decade, it was back page news when Owen Coyle plumped for Adam Bogdan ahead of a fit Jaaskelainen in April, 2011, for a local derby at Blackburn Rovers.
Jaaskelainen was virtually ever-present under Sam Allardyce as the club twice qualified for Europe and recorded four consecutive top-eight finishes.
The other contenders EDDIE HOPKINSON Perhaps the only keeper who could rival Jaaskelainen for appearing so often at the highest level, the former England international’s club record 576 games may now never be broken.
At 5ft 9ins, Hopkinson was not one of the largest, but his technique – especially one-on-one – put him at the very top of his profession in the late fifties and won him 14 international caps.
Hopkinson won an FA Cup winner’s medal with the Whites in 1958 in a career that spanned 14 years.
KEITH BRANAGAN A brilliant shot stopper picked up for nothing from Millwall by Bruce Rioch, Branagan was the safe pair of hands behind the White Hot era.
Remembered most fondly for instigating an amazing comeback at Wembley in the play-off final against Reading with a penalty save from Stuart Lovell. Perhaps only misfortune with injury and the club’s financial situation stopped him remaining at the Reebok for much, much longer than eight years.
JIM ‘SEAMUS’ MCDONAGH When Wanderers were resurgent in the late seventies, Jim “Seamus” McDonagh was the consistent presence in goal, making a club record 161 consecutive appearances between 1976 and 1980.
McDonagh conceded just 33 goals as Ian Greaves side got back into the big time, but left when the club were relegated in 1980 for Everton in a £250,000 deal. He returned a year later to play a further 90 games, taking his overall tally for the club to 274. He even managed a goal, against Burnley, in 1983.
DICK PYM Modern day Wanderers fans will know little of the “Topsham Fisherman” but the fact he kept goal in each of the club’s three FA Cup triumphs in the twenties gives him rightful claim as the most successful man on this list.
A hulking presence, Pym lived to the ripe old age of 95 in Devon and was at the time the longest living England international. Exeter City Council even named a road after him when he passed away on September 16 1988.
STAN HANSON But for the Second World War, Hanson would have probably surpassed fellow keeper Eddie Hopkinson’s all-time appearance record.
The Bootle-born stopper kept goal in the 1953 FA Cup final defeat against Blackpool, but just over a decade earlier he had been one of 13 Wanderers players involved in the retreat at Dunkirk.
He came back from the war and resumed his career, spending the better part of 50 years working for the club in various roles.
DAVID FELGATE Before Wanderers rose back through the Football League in the mid-nineties, David Felgate was one of the stars of those gritty Saturday afternoons at Burnden Park.
The Welshman made exactly 300 appearances for the Whites between 1985 and 1993, helping them out of the bottom division in 1988 and winning the Sherpa Van Trophy in 1989.