The year is 1987, newly crowned champions Liverpool are playing football in Division One and Bolton have been relegated into the Fourth Tier of English football for the first time in the club’s history.
Football has changed significantly since 1987 and only for the second time in the club’s rich history, the Whites will be entering League Two. After being on the brink of collapse, the dawning of a new era began when Football Ventures completed the well-awaited takeover on 28th August 2019. Their first appointment came three days after the takeover, when Keith Hill and David Flitcroft were appointed as first team managers. However, after a fairly optimistic start, their managerial campaign didn’t go to plan. Bolton were relegated down to the Fourth Tier and after a disappointing yet unsurprising season, Hill and Flitcroft left the UNIBOL with just five league wins.
The first time Bolton were relegated into Division Four in 1987, the Whites managed to bounce straight back up after gaining automatic promotion. In the following years, Wanderers made a name for themselves in the cup. First, they won the Sherpa Van Trophy in 1989. More memorably, Bolton beat the champions of English football, Liverpool, 2-0 in an FA Cup third round replay at Anfield. Many successful seasons were to follow, eventually with Bolton becoming a Premier League side after gaining promotion in the 1994/95 season.
The highs of promotion in 2017 under Parkinson feels like a lifetime ago. Heading into the new season, starting in the Carabao Cup vs Bradford, there are mixed feelings amongst Bolton fans. Will we have the same immediate success when we were last in this division? But with many questions yet to be answered, Football Ventures’ first, and most important, appointment of the year was the recruitment of our new head coach, Ian Evatt. Evatt is a young, exciting manager who took National League side Barrow to their first promotion to the Football League in 48 years. As a former Premier League player, Evatt has brought the focus of the community back to football and with an advanced back-room staff. The new boss has made fifteen (yes, fifteen) new signings to the Bolton squad.
His very first was Eoin Doyle, the top scorer in League Two last year. The Irishman netted 25 goals in 28 games for the League Two champions, Swindon. His second signing of the season was a key player for another newly promoted League Two side. Antoni Sarcevic, who this week was named as Bolton captain for the 2020/21 campaign, was a highly valued player last year for Plymouth and he will be keen to make a good first impression as captain this weekend. Evatt’s attitudes were set straight away, “We can’t beat around the bush, we need to be getting promoted there’s no doubt about it.”
After years of misery and setbacks, we all hope that the expectations on the shoulders of the club are met but we all need to be patient. Our first experience in the fourth tier saw the club being automatically promoted after finishing third in the league. It will be a long time before we see “brand Evatt” in full swing but with lots of patience, I’m sure we will be celebrating the good times once again under this recently developed and ambitious team starting the 2020/21 season.
The year is 2020, Liverpool are the newly crowned champions of the Premier League and Bolton are re-starting life in the Fourth Tier of the Football League. Let’s hope history repeats itself.