From the Bolton Evening News - 24th July 2006
THE Bolton Premier Quiz League is facing its starter for 20.
When a group of quiz fanatics at the Craven Heifer pub in Blackburn Road first suggested an inter-pub quiz league, they can hardly have believed the competition would still be going strong two decades later.
When the league began in 1986, around 40 teams entered with questions compiled by two people who went under the name "The Quizzers".
"The current high profile of pub quizzes is expected to liven up otherwise quiet Monday nights in all the pubs involved," reported the Bolton Evening News.
Within a couple of years, the then-named Bolton North End quiz league was the second largest independent set-up in the country, with 48 teams competing in six divisions.
Gradually, pubs and clubs entered from all over Bolton and beyond, swelling the ranks to 56 teams and eight divisions. Now, there are 27 pubs competing in three groups, but organisers would welcome another five to create a fourth division.
And on Wednesday, to mark the 20th anniversary, league founding member Mike Holt, who now lives in Scotland, travelled to Bolton to present this year's prizes at a special presentation evening at Astley Bridge Conservative Club.
Committee member Tony Riviere said: "It's very competitive, but is also a good social night. You only see a lot of these people when you play against them twice a season, but everyone knows each other. Some people do take it slightly too seriously, but by and large it is for fun.
"All you need to join is five people four for the team and one to ask the questions."
When tenders were originally invited for the provision of questions, suggested categories included pot pourri and common sense.
These days, the questions are, perhaps, more general, but competition is just as intense.
The current president is Peter Greenwood, who plays for the Royal Oak, who this year took second place in the first division. He said: "Originally we went up and down the pubs in Blackburn Road and Halliwell Road asking for pubs to join and called ourselves the North End Quiz League."
Tony added: "We did a lot of leg work, but some people were very sceptical and said it would never take off.
"They said people would not want to travel here, there and everywhere for a quiz.
"Then, in the second season, the Belmont Bulls joined which caused a great furore because it was so far out. Gradually the teams spread and now the furthest out is the Lion in Atherton."
He said one of the reasons there may be less teams now, while pub quizzes in general are more popular than ever, is because not all people like the pressure of competing in a league and being put on the spot in the individual rounds.
The biggest quiz league is the Southport and Formby, but Bolton is one of the oldest, with its most successful team being this year's league winners, the Astley Bridge Conservative Club, and the person winning most medals being that establishment's Anthony Wilkinson.
Many of the original teams from that first 1986 season still compete, although some have moved venues to different pubs, and it was only by accident that the league realised it was in its 20th year.
Tony said: "I was talking to someone about quiz leagues and someone said they had started the first independent one, then someone else said we started up in 1986 and I thought hang on, we've been going for 20 years'."
Anyone interested in joining the league can contact Peter Greenwood on 01204 525472, or Andy Greenwood on 01204 300599.