SHOULD Wanderers’ redemption arch continue this season they succeed in their target of automatic promotion let’s all spare a though for the time they turned to the Caped Crusader for inspiration.

It was September 2020, and Ian Evatt had just become the first Bolton manager in history to lose his first five competitive matches in all competitions.

The latest moment on ignominy had been at home to Newport County – their midfield marshalled particularly well on the day by a young man called Josh Sheehan. A 2-0 home reverse left the Whites 22nd in the league, the lowest position they had ever occupied in the Football League.

Fans had yet to tune into Ian Evatt’s inventive turn of phrase, and so his post-match comment about his players being like a “bag of Revels” prompted a few sarcastic replies.

The quality of recruitment was being questioned – not for the last time that season, it transpired – and a young manager looked in desperate need of a break as he insisted his team had been training like “Real Madrid” but playing like the “Dog and Duck”.

A week later, Bolton travelled to Doncaster, where newly promoted Harrogate Town had temporarily set up home as their 4G pitch was being converted to turf to satisfy league rules.

The manager – desperate for a change in fortune – had resorted to wearing a lucky pair of Batman boxer shorts under his tracksuit, and 90 scrappy minutes later, he discovered it had done the trick.

“I’d have tried anything, to be honest,” he admitted after goals from Eoin Doyle and Nathan Delfouneso had earned them three priceless points.

It would be untrue to say that things instantly improved for Evatt and his fledgling side thereafter, indeed it would be another month before he made the season-defining decision to bring Matt Gilks out of semi-retirement and wrestle full control of the club’s transfer policy from head of football operations, Tobias Phoenix, who would be out of the door by the turn of the year.

But the win against Harrogate was a first tentative step in the right direction, which three-and-a-half years later and with the club battling to return to the Championship, we can now reflect on with a wistful smile.

Longevity is rare in football management, and Saturday’s FA Cup second round opponents are a true rarity in that they have been guided by the same man for the last 14 years.

Father and son, owner Irving Weaver, and former Lincoln City defender Simon Weaver, have led the tiny North Yorkshire side out of non-league football to three successive seasons of relative comfort as an EFL club.

Their budget remains way below many of their peers and their infrastructure at Wetherby Road is still playing catch up with the level of football they now play but the club continually punches above its weight and last week held the celebrity-powered Wrexham to a 2-2 draw.

There are still a few players around who can remember the ‘bad old days’ at Wanderers – indeed, vice-captain Gethin Jones picked up an injury in the game at Harrogate which kept him out of action for several weeks.

Captain Ricardo Santos will also recall a time when his omnipresence in the Bolton back line was not necessarily met with unanimous approval from the Whites fanbase.

They may well offer some words of humility when the two sides meet at the Toughsheet Stadium – Wanderers starting as heavy favourites, on a run of just one defeat in their last 14 in league and cup.

It has been six years since a Bolton side has progressed past the first two rounds to compete in the third, without having initially started at that stage. Phil Parkinson’s team beat Grimsby and Sheffield United en route to a lucrative clash with Crystal Palace, forcing the side then managed by Sam Allardyce into a replay at Selhurst Park.

Wanderers would appreciate the same sort of opportunity – for the Harrogate, the money to be made by drawing a Premier League side in the next round could be lifechanging. That incentive is bound to ensure that the Sulphurites do not give their hosts an easy afternoon on a day where the Match of the Day cameras will be lingering for any signs of a cup shock.

Bolton are one clean sheet away from their best-ever defensive run and playing their best football of the season by some distance. With the pressures of League One relaxed for a week, could Evatt afford to leave the lucky pants at home this weekend?

"I think I set them on fire after we got beat 6-3 by Port Vale!" he told The Bolton News.