Bolton Wanderers’ new manager Ian Evatt has been named Manager of the Year. Although, his award has nothing to do with his current at Bolton.
He is in fact, the National League Manager of the Year for the 2019/20 season. This is in recognition of his success at Barrow AFC. Last season, he guided the club to promotion to the English Football League. They last played in the EFL in 1972.
Ian Evatt Awarded National League Manager of the Year
Evatt Achieved a Dream
Last season, few people predicted that Barrow would win the National League. The pre-season favourites were Notts County and Chesterfield. Whereas Barrow were seen more as a mid-table side.
However, Evatt changed that. For 48 years, the Cumbrian side have dreamed of regaining their EFL status. Only recently, have these dreams been realistically possible. Even then, winning the 2020 National League title seemed very unlikely.
At the end of the 2018/19 season, Barrow finished in 11th place – ten points behind the play-off places. This was Evatt’s first season as Barrow’s manager. He has finished the 2017/18 season as caretaker-manager at Chesterfield. However, the Derbyshire club chose to appoint Martin Allen – as their new permanent manager – in May 2018.
Evatt was very unhappy and disappointed that Chesterfield had not kept him on as manager. In a January 2020 interview with The (Sheffield) Star newspaper, he revealed as much. At the time, Evatt was being linked with a return to Chesterfield, following John Sheridan’s sacking.
“I am not interested in that (Chesterfield) post. That ship has sailed,” said Evatt.
“Unfortunately, when they did not take a chance on me, they did not give me that opportunity. Barrow took a risk on me.”
Without doubt, this was Barrow’s gain, as Chesterfield have endured two seasons of struggle.
Sadly, for Barrow, Evatt will not oversee their return to the EFL. Earlier this month, he opted to join Bolton as their new manager. Barrow have since appointed David Dunn as their new boss.
Other Award Winners
The National League have also handed out two other awards for the 2019/20 season.
Over the past decade-plus, the name Rooney has featured on various awards. The 2019/20 season is no different. Except, it is John Rooney who has won the award. John is the younger brother of ex-Manchester United and England star Wayne Rooney.
Last season, John Rooney was pivotal in helping Barrow win promotion. His reward is the National League Player of the Season trophy. However, Rooney – like Evatt – has since left the club. Although, he has elected to remain in the National League, by signing a 3-year contract with Stockport County.
Scott Quigley claimed the National League Top Goal Scorer award. Good news for Barrow fans, as Quigley has signed a three-year contract to continue with their journey into the EFL. Last season, Quigley scored 20 goals in the National League. This is an impressive tally; more so, as the COVID-19 pandemic caused the season to terminate early.