DAVE Jolly is one of the champions of Bolton’s amateur sport but never personally excelled in team sports.

Today, he is chairman of the Bolton Sports Federation which governs the main organised team sports across the borough, vice-chairman and long-time stalwart of the Bolton Ladies Rounders League and treasurer of the Bolton Disability Sports Association.

However, he is a modest man who will tell you that he only represents the many volunteers who provide the back-bone of local sport.

Born in Blackpool, he moved to Bolton with his family when he was eight and went to Oxford Grove Primary School and later Whitecroft Road Secondary School. “I always wanted to be an engineer,” he stated. “I loved making things like model aeroplanes.”

To achieve this, he went to Bolton Technical College to take an ONC (Ordinary National Certificate) before starting work with Dobson and Barlow at Bradley Fold.

Always quite sporty, although he “didn’t particularly shine” at team sports like football and cricket, he really enjoyed gymnastics and used to go to the YMCA. He added cycling to this sporting pastime and when he started work, used to cycle daily from his home in Doffcocker to Bradley Fold.

Dave also liked ice-skating and roller-skating and it was at the latter, as a teenager that he met his future wife, Marlene, who was also very sporty.

The couple married in 1965 and went on to have two children, Keeley and Jason. When Keeley was attending primary school in Harwood where they lived, teacher Angela Greenhalgh started a rounders team - Hough Fold Ladies - and Marlene got involved.

“As you do – and as was the pattern in our family – I used to take the children along to watch,” he recalled. After watching the players setting up the pitch “the engineer in me realised there was a better way to do this, so I started helping regularly.”

This assistance grew into Dave learning more about the tactics and technicalities of the sport and then becoming manager. The Bolton Ladies Rounders League has many men managing teams and, as Hough Fold did well, Dave came to the attention of League officials.

While daughter Keeley then got involved in rounders, Dave was invited onto the League management. “This was at a time when there were really enthusiastic characters on the committee like Norma Watkinson, Jackie Walker, Ray Pollitt and Mick Draper. They wanted to work hard to make a difference.”

Together, they did. The league – which first began as “the mill girls’ tennis” 122 years ago – has always been well-supported and it re-structured its divisions to accommodate more teams.

Over the years, there have been other significant changes and today the League is stronger than ever. Dave is particularly keen on getting youngsters involved – “they’re the future of any sport” – and is pleased that the local development group supported by senior sports development officer AnnMarie Taylor, managed to get coaches qualified and a planned system of coaching rounders into secondary schools.

“We are hoping to go into junior schools as well,” he added, “and that is where the difference will come because boys and girls will be playing rounders together. Mixed teams is definitely something that the league will have to consider in the future.”

He believes that rounders is doing well because it’s affordable, accessible to all, can be played anywhere with a large patch of grass and provides a game for all ages.

Through rounders, Dave became involved with the Bolton Sports Federation and is now its chairman. He is proud of the federation’s wealth of sports and believes that Bolton is a strong town for this – “Amateur sport is healthy here,” he stated.

He extends this description to disability sports and has words of praise for the Bolton Metro sports’ development team in general and Jamie Agar in particular whose remit is disability sports. “They really do a fantastic job,” he said.

Dave loves watching sports of any kind including football and cricket. He still enjoys watching daughter Keeley and grandaughter Abi play rounders and these days adds grandson Freddie’s sporting calendar to his “must-see” list.

A strong family man, Dave believes in the power of sport to help everyone and to make communities stronger. “Sport really is there for everyone,” he said.