It’s that time again! The draw for the Bolton Hospital Cup 2023 has been made and once again, it’s thrown up some cracking ties. The world’s oldest derby as Turton make the short trip to Eagley and newcomers to the cup – Tottington United – taking on Manchester Football League’s Premier Division reigning champions Hindsford. And for County? Well it’s yet another game against Pennington FC!

The full draw is all follows:

Tuesday 4th April

Tempest United v Walshaw Sports FC (18.15ko)

CMB v Bolton Wyresdale (18.15ko)

Atherton LR FC v Stoneclough (19.30ko)

Wednesday 5th April

Eagley FC v Turton FC (18.15ko)

Atherton Town FC v North Walkden FC (18.15ko)

Thursday 6th April

BOLTON COUNTY v Pennington FC (18.15ko)

Tottington United v Hindsford Tonics (18.15ko)

Thursday 13th April

Prestwich Heys FC v Little Lever FC

Bolton’s top amateur football knockout was held in 1930 and was originally known as the Bolton Royal Infirmary Cup.

The competition was initially set-up to help pay for the broadcast of Bolton Wanderers matches to local hospitals via a specially installed landline.

Unfortunately, the service met an abrupt end when workmen constructing the new A666 through the town severely damaged the cables.

Since then, the tournament remained and many thousands of pounds have been raised for local charities, thanks to the hard work and dedication of volunteers and participating clubs.

During the 1930s, there was a junior competition that ran alongside the senior tournament — the first winners of that being Greenheys Celtic in 1934/35.

Whilst it’s understood that the junior tournament restarted following its hiatus during the Second World War, the exact date of its existence is presently unknown.

In 1970, the Hospital Cup flourished, with over 60 clubs entering in a bid to play on the hallowed turf at Burnden Park — the then home of Bolton Wanderers.

However, changes to the amateur game saw some clubs dissolved, including the vast majority of the works teams as factories closed, along with some clubs who joined semi-professional divisions — which almost saw the end of the competition.

By 1989, it was thought that Little Hulton United would be the last ever winners of the Hospital Cup — until a drive in volunteers and committee members like Gerry Luczka, John Bullen, Peter Conroy, Brian Frey and Andy Whittle gave up their free time to revitalise the near-redundant tournament.

In the 1990s, the interest returned and a thrilling final between Haslingden, who eventually emerged victorious, and Eagley at Burnden Park in 1996 proved to many what could have been lost.

The competition hit a further stumbling block shortly after that final, when the announcement of Bolton Wanderers’ move to the Reebok Stadium meant Burnden Park could no longer be used to stage Hospital Cup Final’s.

Atherton LR leant their home, Crilly Park, to stage finals from then on — but the final had lost its spark, until 2001, when Bolton Wanderers officials opened the Reebok doors to stage Bolton’s most loved amateur competition once more.

The first final at the state-of-the-art stadium saw Blackrod Town suffer defeat to Atherton Town — but it was the support from Bolton Wanderers that has seen the tournament grow to new levels every year since.

Whilst the football is of course the main focus, it’s important to remember that the competition is designed to raise money for local charities — with Bolton Hospice and Vision Aid two that have significantly benefitted as a result in recent times.

Every club that has entered the tournament since 1930 have made an important contribution towards helping less fortunate people to enjoy a better quality of life.

Whilst the competition is battled for by amateur footballers, there is nothing amateur about the silverware they play for – which is valued at a staggering £20,000 and kept under lock and key at the University of Bolton Stadium.

The cost of the huge vintage silver trophy makes it more valuable than the Premier League trophy – and protecting its worth is of paramount importance to the committee.

So when the lads come out against Pennington, the aim will be to put our name to this famous old trophy – and we’d love you there cheering us on. Everything goes to charity so come down and support a great cause…