AS Bolton Wanderers emissaries go, Julian Darby is top of the pile.

Supporter man and boy, a player for nine seasons in three divisions and now full-time coach in the academy set-up – there can be few better equipped to spread the club’s word worldwide.

Next week Darby heads to San Francisco with Wanderers’ International Football Programme, coaching youngsters in the Southern Alameda County Youth Soccer League.

The IFP has already seen Wanderers reach markets in Ireland, Australia, Canada and Colombia, among others, with plans to tap into the Far East on the horizon.

Various international parties have been frequent visitors to the Whites Hotel and the Lostock training ground in the last 12 months and hometown boy Darby is only too pleased to give them the guided tour.

“We have had quite a few different teams come over. They get looked after and really get a look at how a professional club operates,” he said. “Now we’re starting to branch out and go into different countries, putting on sessions and spreading the word of Bolton Wanderers. Hopefully in the end, it’ll make a few quid.

“We are very lucky. Not many clubs have got a hotel, and a short walk to the training ground with floodlights and Astro Turf – and even more the first team and academy are based here, so it’s a working environment. It’s good to watch.

“I remember carrying flipping bags of balls down to Leverhulme Park, going with a stick getting dog muck off the grass before you train. We just got on with it.

“You have to remember how lucky you are to do what you do.”

Darby was in a part-time role last season with the Under-15s and 16s, 10 of which were taken on as scholars.

He has now been given a full-time role at the same age group – and the 49-year-old will be keeping a keen eye on some of the talents he helped through the system.

“I think they are a good group, a team who stick together,” he said. “We’ve taught them to be winners. To play football these days you have to be athletic, you have to have quality. But these lads have got a bit of spirit about them – they’ll have a pop at each other at the right time. I like that.

“I think the 16s this year are heading in the right direction.

“When you come out of school at 3.30pm it can be a bit of a culture shock coming into a grown-up environment. They don’t all swim.

“It’s great you can look up and point to that fantastic stadium and say ‘so you want to be a professional footballer and play there?’

“I think Ajax have got something similar. Their academy is in sight of the stadium, so the young kids can see what they are aiming at.”

Wanderers’ academy was recently ranked fourth in the country for productivity, with young players seeing more minutes in the last two seasons than they have for more than a decade.

Darby believes his old team-mate, now head of the academy, Jimmy Phillips, will be aiming even higher. And he has a special target in mind for the talent of tomorrow at Bolton.

“Let’s build on that and get first,” he said. “It’s great that all these lads are coming in and quite a few of them are Bolton fans too, which I like. I’m sick of asking them what team they follow and it’s City or United. I’m not having that – what’s wrong with having the Bolton fans having the desire to play at the Macron?”

Both Darby and the IFP's Danny Clark will be putting on coaching sessions for SACSYL’s young players and will also have use of facilities at Notre Dame University during their American trip.

“It is great to be taking over someone like Julian,” Clark said. “He has experience of coaching at the highest level and an incredible knowledge of the game. We are really looking forward to going over and working with a very high calibre of club.”