Atherton Collieries Football Club was established in 1916 by miners from the six pits which were then operative within the old urban district of Atherton. Between 1919 and 1965 they were winners of the Bolton Combination League ten times. They established a noted reputation in Lancashire and by 1964-65 had won the Lancashire Junior Shield six times, a record which is still unsurpassed.
They are affectionately nicknamed 'The Welfare', 'The Miners' or 'Sooty'. They play at Alder Street and the much maligned, but recently demolished, main stand was described in David Bauckham's book Dugouts as "leaning forward as if in prayer for its continued survival".
They joined the Lancashire Combination Division Two in 1950 before leaving in 1952 to play again in the Bolton Combination. They rejoined the Lancashire Combination in 1971 before becoming founder members of the Cheshire County League Division Two in 1978-79. They joined the North West Counties League as founder members in 1982-83, winning the third division in 1986-87.
Steady progress off the pitch, with floodlights being erected in 1994, was matched by progress on the pitch as Colls’ final league position improved season on season. This culminated in promotion to the first division after finishing the 1995-96 season as runners-up to Vauxhall GM.
Colls have suffered mixed fortunes during their tenure in Division One. Their best season came in 2006-2007 when they finished in seventh place. In other seasons Colls have only avoided relegation due to events elsewhere in the league. In 2005-06 an impressive run of results towards the end of the season took Colls well clear of any relegation worries.
Atherton Collieries have been successful in a number of cup competitions over the years.
They were Lancashire FA Amateur Shield winners on a record-breaking six occasions. Firstly in 1920, they beat Dumers Lane 3-2 after extra time. Then in 1923 they defeated Barnoldswick Town 4-1. In 1942 they beat Royal Engineers 3-2 and in 1946 Moss Rovers were dispatched 5-2. The 1957 final saw Colls come out on top in a second replay against Burnley Albion, winning 3-2 after extra time and their last victory in the final came in 1965 when they defeated Breightmet United 6-1.
Perhaps Colls’ biggest final came in 2001-02 when they reached the last hurdle of the League Cup for the first time. And although they lost out to Prescot Cables in a close game, Colls could consider themselves unlucky not to have got their hands on the trophy.
In that same season, Colls enjoyed another cup final when they came up against Charnock Richard at the Reebok Stadium in the Bolton Wanderers sponsored Goldline Trophy. Colls ran out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from Nicky Fisher. The following season Colls once again made it to the final of the Goldline Trophy but this time had to settle for runners-up.
Colls have also enjoyed success in numerous local cup competitions but have failed to make an impact in the national cup competitions. Their best run in the FA Vase came in 1992-93 when they reached the third round and in the FA Cup they got as far as the second qualifying round in 2002-03.
More recently, Colls defeated AFC Liverpool 3-2 after extra time to lift the Division One Trophy in May 2011- their first silverware since 2002. In 2012, they returned to the Reebok Stadium to win the Bolton Hospital Cup on penalties after the match had ended 2-2 against Eagley in yet another nailbiting final.