The Bolton News: Former Bolton Wanderers manager Keith Hill has a word with the 'Posh Gent' at Peterborough UnitedFormer Bolton Wanderers manager Keith Hill has a word with the 'Posh Gent' at Peterborough United (Image: camerasport)

Catching cup fever with Keith,

by Liam Hatton

Sorry for starting off this week’s column with a reference to ex-Bolton boss Keith Hill – but every time I think of a cup run, I revert back to the video clip of him saying he was feeling a bit down because he had “cup fever!”

Yes, that actually happened, but viral tweets aside it is nice that Wanderers are able to take a breather from league action this weekend when they host Harrogate in the second round.

We all know the mighty impressive run that Ian Evatt’s squad have been on recently - winning eight of their last nine games in all competitions, with that sequence being halted via Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Oxford United.

The question is whether that can extend to the main domestic cup this year, and if so, are Bolton fans really paying this their full attention with League One the obvious priority?

It is difficult for me to stand here and say that “we do not care about the FA Cup,” because of course we do, as fans. Last year’s triumph in the Papa Johns Trophy at Wembley was one of the best moments in recent years, and that was after winning the third best cup in English football.

So, you can imagine what a good FA Cup run would do for Bolton, not only in terms of financial incentives for Evatt and the board, but also due to the fact Wanderers’ recent record in this competition has just not been very good.

The last four years have seen Bolton exit at the first round stage. Prior to that they had only progressed one round further than they entered in four of the previous five years.

For a club with serious pedigree in the FA Cup it hasn’t made for good reading. Of course, a lot has happened during that time in relation to off the field issues and virtually rebuilding from scratch, but you do get the feeling Bolton are due a run in the finest knockout competition around.

Evatt has commented about pushing the league and Portsmouth to one side whilst focusing on Harrogate and the Bristol Street Motors Trophy tie against Port Vale on Tuesday, and whilst it does offer him the opportunity to change the squad around, it is obvious there is no time for complacency.

I was surprised to read that Evatt’s first win as a manager in the FA Cup came against Solihull Moors in the last round, so it definitely strikes me as the gaffer having a point to prove. The fact is, he is proud of this squad and confident in their abilities to challenge for the league, so why would he not employ that same focus for the FA Cup?

I came into this season with the full belief that promotion was the priority - which it still is of course - but my mindset with the cup competitions has now changed. I was indifferent about a cup run due to wanting to get out of League One but you know what, why not see how far this squad can take us?

You never know, we could be catching a case of cup fever again. It is that time of the year.

The Bolton News: Harrogate Town's compact EnviroVent Stadium - but not the car that broke down in Tony's twentiesHarrogate Town's compact EnviroVent Stadium - but not the car that broke down in Tony's twenties (Image: PA)

Breakdown of a relationship,

by Tony Thompson

I once broke down in Harrogate and had to wait in the freezing cold for four hours for a truck to come and pick me up.

I had to get that little anecdote off my chest straight away because it might explain why I have an irrational hatred of today’s FA Cup second round opponents despite having never knowingly seen them play a game of live.

Whenever anyone mentions Harrogate Town my mind is taken back to shivering in the front seat of my battered Ford Orion on my way back from a gig in York at some point in my early twenties. The experience was made worse because accompanying me in the passenger seat was a girl with which I had started the trip in a relationship but the previous night had engaged in a furious row, which ended in us both telling the other to get stuffed.

People tell me that Harrogate is nice, full of gentrified North Yorkshiremen sipping tea, but all I can remember is that grey, frosty morning where it was somehow colder inside the car than it was out on the street.

I can also remember digging one of those massive Bolton Wanderers manager jackets out of the boot of my car because my former girlfriend had decided in her infinite wisdom not to bring anything warm to wear. I never got the coat back, by the way, which concentrates my hatred for Harrogate even more. It cost about £40.

My own personal feelings aside, it really was a good draw for Bolton to get. It feels like we haven’t had a proper run in the FA Cup for ages and the last time I can remember us playing anyone decent was when Adam Bogdan turned into Lev Yashin at Anfield and earned himself a move.

Obviously, the league takes priority, but they can hardly sit around kicking their heels for 10 days until the Portsmouth game, so I’m all up for beating Harrogate and then Port Vale, inching us that little bit closer to Wembley.

That might sound a bit cocky and arrogant but I don’t mind. I was called a lot worse that night in York.