Bolton Wanderers may have only been one of many stops in Nicky Hunt’s long career in English football but it was, without doubt, the most significant.
The defender started his career with the North West club and after making his professional debut on the final day of the 2000/01 season spent nearly a decade with the Trotters – featuring regularly in the Premier League for much of that spell.
After loan spells at Birmingham City and Derby County, Hunt left permanently in 2010 to join Bristol City before bouncing around a string of EFL clubs over the next decade.
The 38-year-old dropped into non-league to join Darlington in 2020 but spent just a season with the North East club, making 16 appearances in total and spending a period sidelined after a nasty head injury saw him collapse on the pitch.
That injury put things into perspective for Hunt, who is now focussing on what comes after his playing career.
He told MEN: “If I was 19, 20, 21, it wouldn’t worry me, I think I’d still be quite fearless and buzzing to be on the pitch.
“But now with the age I am, I’ll be 38 in September, I just think that I’ve got a stage now that there’s other things in life.
“I do want to be a coach, I do want to be a manager, there is other things and other reflections that you need, like family. It puts everything else into perspective.”
He is yet to hang up his boots but has already made the transition into coaching, having joined Northern Premier League Premier Division side Ashton United in June as a first-team coach.
The former Bolton defender will assist manager and close friend Michael Clegg – a former Manchester United, Wigan, and Oldham player – and is registered as a player but only on a “bit-part basis if needed”.
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Things have started positively for him. Ashton were 19th in the table when the 2020/21 season was curtailed but find themselves 14th as things stand and have a game in hand over many of the sides above them.
He’s looking beyond just the current campaign, however, and told MEN: “I just want to focus on the coaching and I don’t think there’s a better place to start than with my best mate Mike as manager and a chairman who’s got this plan for the club and where he wants to take it.
“I think it’s going to be a tremendous journey that we can all be part of. Which is great.”