WHEN Bolton Wanderers announced their new home was to be called the Reebok Stadium back in 1997, it seemed like the perfect union.

The town’s football club — founder members of the Football League — were linking up with a sportswear giant which also had roots in Bolton.

Joseph William Foster founded his company J W Foster and Sons after coming up with an idea to make a novelty spiked running shoe in 1895 But it was left to his grandsons, Joe and Jeff, to rebrand the company Reebok, spawned from the Afrikaans spelling of rhebok, a type of African antelope or gazelle, in 1958.

They had found the name in a South African dictionary which had been won in a running race by Mr Foster when he was a boy.

The company lived up to the J W Foster legacy, manufacturing top class footwear for customers throughout the UK. In 1979, Paul Fireman, an American sporting goods distributor, saw a pair of Reeboks at an international trade show and negotiated to sell them in the US.

From then on, Reebok became a global brand but in 2005 was bought by German group Adidas.

It is now a producer of athletics shoes, clothing and accessories with a global headquarters in Massachusetts in the US, with regional offices in Amsterdam, Holland, Montreal in Canada, Hong Kong and Mexico City.