Joe Pritchard says Bolton Wanderers will remain special to him but tomorrow’s focus is on helping Accrington Stanley grab a vital win.
The 23-year-old made his EFL debut for Wanderers last season and he says, travelling to the north, helped him to grow up as he moved away from home.
But now the former Tottenham trainee wants to show what he can do at Stanley as they face Keith Hill’s in-form side at the Wham Stadium tomorrow.
“Bolton gave me my first minutes in professional football, it was a different life for me as I had to move from Tottenham which is something I felt I needed to do at the time.
“I didn’t play a lot in the Championship last season but I got a feeling of what it’s like to be in a match, being part of the team and playing in the first team which pushed my standards.
“I also had to take responsibility for myself and try and kick start my career which had been delayed due to injury.”
That injury came when Joe was 18 at Spurs - and it was career-threatening.
“I think if I had been at any other club but a Premier League club I wouldn’t be playing football now.
“It was an Under 18s match against Norwich Under 18s and I broke my tibia and fibula in a tackle and I was told I wouldn’t play again.
“I was just about to start my first FA Youth Cup campaign the week after, the biggest tournament at that age, and was due to captain the Tottenham side so it was a real sickener for me. It killed me at the time.
“However I was at Premier League club and the support they gave me, as well as the support from my family, was amazing. If I hadn’t been at a club like Spurs I wouldn’t have played again, I was told that, and I can’t thank them enough.”
He recovered from that after a year out and moved to Bolton at the start of last season, aged 21, who had a troubled season in the Championship over ownership issues.
“I had to live on my own, cook myself which I didn’t mind and pay bills for the first time. That was tough as, at the time at Bolton, I wasn’t sure if I would get paid and I had to juggle my money.
“I learnt a lot at Bolton with the situation they were in, it was my first experience of professional football and it was nobody at the club’s fault. It was a definite life lesson.”
Joe moved to Stanley in the summer and is battling to become a first team regular.
“There was a one-year option on my Bolton contract but, with the club being in administration, it wasn’t offering contracts and I wasn’t sure what position I would be in so they released me.
“I was 22, I had made one start and five appearances at Bolton and I wasn’t sure what would happen. I needed to be playing and Accrington were interested, I met the manager and that was that.
“I still keep in touch with the lads from Bolton, I made good friends there, the likes of Connor Hall who was at Accrington last season, and Harry Brockbank who is still there.
“It was the first game I looked for on the fixture list. I am looking forward to seeing the lads and seeing the Bolton team and the transition they have made under Keith Hill.
“For me, if I am playing, I think you always have a point to prove when you are coming up against your former club. I hope I get the opportunity.”