A BOLTON Wanderers fan has forked out £2,500 and travelled 10,000 miles to play football on the hallowed turf of the Reebok Stadium.

Howard Fox moved from Bolton to New Zealand 36 years ago and now lives in Australia.

But the football-mad dad had not been back to Bolton in all those years — until he got the opportunity to play in goal at the home of his beloved Wanderers.

Howard, aged 49, said: “It was amazing — an unforgettable experience and it was worth every penny.”

He got the chance to play at the Reebok after hearing about Football Aid — a charity which lets fans “Live the Dream” and bid to play at the home of their favourite team.

The lifelong Whites fan, who plays in goal for an amateur side, Nerang Soccer Club, paid £250 to walk out at the Reebok, but shelled out more than £2,000 for the rest of his trip.

He even paid that little bit extra for a hotel room at the De Vere Whites Hotel at the stadium, which looks out on to the Wanderers pitch.

Another 19 Whites fans paid to play alongside two former Wanderers players, David Lee and Mike Whitlow, who captained the sides.

Howard’s team eventually lost 4-0 under the Reebok floodlights on Wednesday night, but he admitted he loved every minute.

Despite conceding four goals, the amateur goalie was given the man-of-the-match award after the game — a signed football.

Howard said: “I felt like I’d played 120 minutes after the first half. It was one-way traffic, but everyone out there was loving it. To get the man-of-the-match award was great. The whole experience has been brilliant.

“Walking out on to the pitch, playing under the floodlights, hearing the crowd cheer. There were only a few people watching, but it sounded like there were 1,000 fans there.

“It is something I will never forget for the rest of my life.”

Howard grew up in Westhoughton and Daubhill. He attended St Bede’s Primary School and Hayward Green High School, but his family moved to New Zealand in 1973 when his father got a job there.

He later moved to Australia where he married and had two daughters, Tessa and Sarah.

Howard now lives in Queensland with his second wife, Kaye, their daughter, Kumbelin, aged seven, and their dog, named Bolton.