BOLTON’S summer football experiment proved to be a massive hit when eight teams kicked off an inaugural charity tournament at the weekend.
Eight teams – mainly from Bolton Sunday League – are taking part in the Bolton Community Festival of Football at Smithills Sixth Form College for the next three weeks.
The emphasis is on family involvement and fun as the matches last 60 minutes with a quick change of ends at half time and no interval.
Rolling substitutes are allowed and managers are permitted one threeminute time-out in each game up to the 50-minute mark.
An Irish piper heralded the entrance of the teams for the first game – The Bolton Irish Heritage Centre v Johnson Fold – and organiser Carl Cover said it set the perfect tone for the rest of the event which culminates in the final day on Sunday, July 24.
“The piper played Danny Boy and the Irish national anthem,” he said. “All the lads and spectators were very respectful of the anthem.
“There was a magnificent family atmosphere and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
“It was a warm day, so we had to make sure there was plenty of water available.”
Steve Godridge was player/manager of the Bolton Irish team which had been hastily assembled for the event.
“The tournament is very well organised,”
he said. “There was plenty going on for the kids, and if it carries on like this, I can see it being a massive success and an annual event.”
Godridge, aged 38, came out of retirement as a player to score two goals for his side as they lost 4- 2 to rivals Johnson Fold before beating Queen Lizzie 3-2.
Team-mate Paul Tobin, aged 24, who had to give up playing in the Bolton Sunday League due to work commitments, returned in the Heritage side on his day.
“One of the reasons I stopped playing in the league was because of the constant postponements,” he said. “And there have been a lot of them in the last two seasons.
“It was a very relaxed and fun environment and there were no yellow cards – how the game should be played.”
" Results: Bolton Irish Heritage 2 Johnson Fold 4, Bolton Irish Heritage 3 Queen Lizzie 2, T&S North West 3 Morris Dancers 1, Morris Dancers 0 Cattle Market Wanderers 3, Queen Lizzie 1 Great Lever 0, Great Lever 4 Johnson Fold 2, Cattle Market Wanderers 1 Bolton Sports 10, T&S North West 4 Bolton Sports 1.