WANDERERS unwrapped an early Christmas gift this week – paid for exclusively by the fans.

A new gym has been installed at Lostock using funds raised by the lottery schemes -Lifeline, Goldline, half-time Golden Gamble and Instant Win scratch tickets - operated by the Bolton Wanderers Development Association (BWDA).

More than £400,000 of lottery cash has been poured into new training facilities at Lostock, which also includes an all-weather ‘bubble,’ due to be installed this week, to enable Phil Parkinson’s side to train indoors during bad weather and required for the academy to retain Category Two status.

The previous gym, also funded by lottery cash at a cost of £100,000, had been built specifically for younger academy players but low ceilings meant that when the first team moved in to Lostock last summer, six foot-plus players like Mark Beevers, Sammy Ameobi and David Wheater were forced to kneel down and improvise their training routines.

Parkinson, head physio Matt Barrass and his head of sports science Nick Allamby approached the BWDA looking to improve facilities after promotion, and the Wanderers boss sent on a special thanks to the supporters who continue to pay into the lottery schemes each week.

“It is great that the fans can see their money going to work on something like this which is going to directly improve the team,” he told The Bolton News.

“The gym was crucial. It was originally built for the academy but with more people here at the training ground we needed more space and the newly built and custom designed gym has been done to a fantastic standard and looks really great.

“It’s important for strength and conditioning of the players that they can access the right equipment and do the right training.

“When we moved over to Lostock we looked at the training ground, and agreed it had potential. We have now to started to upgrade the facilities thanks to the BWDA.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support, the committee who make the decisions on where the money is spent, the staff for their hard work and the people and supporters who put their money in to help them.”

The original Lifeline scheme was the brainchild of former Wanderers chairman Terry Edge and money raised in those early days at Burnden Park, quite literally, kept the club from ruin.

The great Nat Lofthouse was a proud patron, his impassioned call for supporters to dig deep and join the lottery during a game against Charlton Athletic in 1982 is the stuff of legend.

Nat also travelled up and down the land with former commercial manager Alf Davies speaking to clubs and organisations about how they could launch the same blueprint.

These days, that job falls on the shoulders of Andrew Dean and his hard-working staff.

Money raised by the BWDA, is ring-fenced, and cannot be used for wages or overhead expenses but for projects, determined by an elected committee, which directly help the club and its supporters.

Nearly £1.5 million of lottery cash was pumped into Euxton Facilities and Gym Equipment before the site was sold last year but Nick Allamby explained some of the hi-tech equipment which was salvaged from the former training ground has now been installed in the new gym.

“We had loads of equipment from Euxton that we couldn’t use here which we had in storage but the new purpose-built gym, with speciality flooring, means we can put the weights down without any problems or extra protection,” he said.

“When we came in last year the First Team had just moved into Lostock, and everyone kept telling me how fantastic Euxton had been.

“Last year we had to improvise quite a bit and the facilities were not as good as they should have been for a first team squad, but we managed.

“We did well with what we had but this year our aim has been to improve the facilities and bring them up to a standard fit for the Championship, and hopefully continue to make improvements year on year with the help of the BWDA.

“Speaking to Andrew Dean about the lotteries it’s really impressed me and will probably surprise many supporters that the money which has paid for this has come straight from the fans.

“It’s nice for them to know something they are supporting, like the lotteries, is helping so directly towards the first team squad.

“The whole club will have use of the facilities, of course, but without their direct help the first team wouldn’t have had access to this.”

The BWDA has also invested in GPS training vests for the players this season, which allow Allamby and his staff to monitor the squad during training and games and adjust training schedules accordingly.

Wanderers built a reputation for being at the cutting edge of sports science during their Premier League days but Allamby admits during the last 18 months, necessity has been the mother of invention.

“We’ve had some challenges, put it that way,” he smiled. “The gym was perfect for the academy but the first team has six players over 6ft 3ins, so it was a really difficult thing to improvise. They struggled to lift weights above their heads and had to kneel down and come up with all sorts of novel exercises to get the desired effect.

“It all goes to improving the players and hopefully the output on the pitch, so we honestly do thank everyone involved.”

Just as in 1982, the BWDA is asking the people of Bolton to get behind the lotteries again, which start at one pound per week.

If you are interested please telephone 01204 673777 for further details or email lotteries@bwfc.co.uk.