Category: Club News

PODCAST: How Has Football Been Affected by COVID-19?


How has local and national football affected by COVID-19? Our panel of guests try to pick the bones of the recent decisions from the footballing authorities.

Presented by Adam Clark & Aaron Benson

Guests: Our Chief Scout Warren Nolan, Paul Hilton - Chairman of Radcliffe FC & Chris Murray - Bury AFC Chair.

*All information was correct at the time of recording on Sunday 5th April 2020*

Category: Club News


For nerds such as me, who write up all upcoming events in advance in a diary, it is highly dispiriting at the moment to see the glut of items, not only Rammy football fixtures, that have had to be crossed out and deleted as far as possible from the mind.

So, short again of the usual Saturday sporting ‘fix’, I was grateful, in a kind of desperate second-best way, for the idea someone came up with of transmitting the whole of Rammy’s 2014 play-off final live on YouTube at 3pm on Saturday 28th March 2020.

Apart from evoking fond memories – I attended the game and still have the match programme – it succeeded this week in plugging that unfortunate, current hole between 3 and 5 on Saturday afternoons. Normally, I’m prone to cursing should any game have to go into extra-time, as this one did, but the added 30 minutes of play came as a definite bonus on this occasion.

Back to the match in question, the background to it was that Rammy had only scraped a play-off place on goal difference. Finishing in fifth place, they were initially faced with a challenging away match against second-placed Darlington 1883 who had achieved 90 points over the season compared with the Rams’ 80.

Travelling up to see that match on the Wednesday, it was really impressive how determined the Rams were to stick to their usual attacking game in an intimidating cauldron-atmosphere in a huge, packed stadium with home fans highly vocal and baying for victory. In the end, the Rams won through 2-0 against the much-vaunted Quakers with first-half goals from Scott Burton and Jordan Hulme.

The same team was selected for the final on the Saturday: away again against Bamber Bridge (who in fourth place had beaten third-placed Warrington 1-0 in midweek) at their Irongate Ground.

The Rammy team on the day was: Martin Fearon, Danny Warrender, Owen Roberts, Gary Stopforth, Steve Howson, Billy Priestley, Grant Spencer, Scott Burton, Lee Gaskell, Jordan Hulme and Phil Dean. Among the subs that day were Rammy legend Jon Robinson, towards the end of his playing-career, and Dominic Smalley who was destined by the end of the day to have written himself into the club’s folk-lore.

After 5 minutes, Grant Spencer made a penetrating run down the right-wing before delivering a 30-metre cross which seemed to hang invitingly in the air for Lee Gaskell to rise and thwack into the net with a resounding near-post header. For Gaskell, it crowned a massively successful season in which he was the league’s top scorer with 29 goals in the 40 games played. On this note, it is also worth noting that Phil Dean (Whizz!) was up there as second highest club scorer with 19.

Bamber Bridge came back into the game with their dangerous right-winger, Ally Waddicar (22 goals that season) threatening all the time. In the 22nd minute, striker Greg Johnstone headed an equaliser.

At half-time, the score stood at 1-1 but the home team had enjoyed more possession since the Rams’ early goal. From the way our team in blue took the game back to the opposition after half-time, one sensed they had been given something of a gee-up, rollicking, whatever (!) from manager Anthony Johnson who was managing the team on his own that day in the absence of co-manager Bernard Morley.

A 2-1 lead was established when centre-back Steve Howson connected superbly from the edge of the penalty-area with a knee-high volley that could on other days have hit the back row of the stand but today flew like an arrow into the back of the net.

Dominic Smalley came on as sub after 73 minutes presumably to give a bit of extra ballast to the defence. At the start of stoppage time, Jon Robinson came on in a ploy seemingly aimed at running down the clock. However in the depths of stoppage time, Bamber Bridge were awarded a penalty which was coolly converted to take it to extra-time with Jon Robinson having a full half-hour now to play instead of mere seconds! Again, Johnson appeared to give an earnest chat on the pitch to his players before play resumed. Which seemed to take effect as the Rams pressed hard again.

Two events shaped the match outcome in the first half of extra-time. First, Jon Robinson showed all his experience in making a diagonal run before cleverly slipping a pass into the path of overlapping Smalley who from a tight angle squeezed the ball through and past the keeper to make it 3-2. Then, not soon after, as the home team became more frustrated, their midfield dynamo Matt Lawler was sent off for a second yellow card offence.

When the final whistle went, wild celebrations took place among the Rammy squad of players and support staff. Not to mention the host of Ram supporters who had witnessed this historic victory.

As is well-known, during the following season, Johnson and Morley were invited to become joint managers at Salford. It is ironic to note that Salford had been in the same division as the Rams in 2013/14 and only finished 12th. As well as the managers leaving, they took with them virtually the whole team and it was no surprise when Salford achieved three promotions over four seasons while Ram fortunes went into the doldrums over the same period of time.

Managers came and went and it was not really until this season 2019/20 that such a high standard of football and thirst for success arrived back under manager Chris Willcock.

Many parallels can be found between 2014 and where the club is now in 2020 in terms of playing together in a recognised pattern that enables the team to play with confidence. Both teams have had an attacking emphasis to their game. The team of 2014 notched up 112 goals that season with next highest scorers Curzon Ashton only managing 92. Both teams have had managers with appetites for success that earns the respect of players.

Whilst there will be many who feel strongly that, given of course that the present season had inevitably in the circumstances to be brought to a premature close, final outcomes should have been calculated on an average points per game basis rather than just expunging all record of 2019/20 as if the season had never happened. In this sense, the present team can feel doubly unlucky as to the turn of events. But with the character they have shown this season, it is clear the current squad still has massive potential to go again and produce even more impressive results in future.

‘Walk Down Memory Lane’ the re-showing of the 2014 play-off might have been, but it also served to keep Ramsbottom United in the minds of all the club’s faithful supporters. Much as I would have preferred to be writing a match-report on a live match taking place in 2020, I hope this article helps a bit in linking up the past, present and undoubted future of the club and keeping the faith alive and well in these testing times.

Category: Club News

League Update on Coronavirus - Friday 13th March (7am)

The Northern Premier League have released the following update on the COVID-19 outbreak.

The NPL together will all other Alliance leagues and representatives of Step 5-6 leagues met with the FA executive on Wednesday March 11.

At this point there are no plans to cancel, postpone or to play games behind closed doors.

Although the situation remains fluid and government guidance could change at any point, all games at Steps 1-4 will go ahead as planned unless external forces dictate otherwise.

The NPL will continue to liaise with the governing body to provide necessary leadership.

In the meantime, the NPL would reiterate the guidance issued through the Chief Medical Officer.

For those hosting events:

• Public Health England guidance should be read and followed

• For those travelling to sporting events overseas or returning from overseas to sports events, the Foreign Office’s travel advice should be read and followed

• Promote best practice for hygiene, ensuring cleaning is effective and soaps are provided (and sanitiser where possible)

• Anyone with flu symptoms should avoid the risk of spreading their infection, whatever that infection may be, by staying at home and recovering

• Clubs are advised that if any spectator presents to a club member of staff with possible flu-like symptoms they should be encouraged to leave, return home and call NHS 111 for further advice

• For those hosting sporting events, whatever their size, attendees and participants should stay up to date on the government’s latest advice on how to avoid catching or spreading the virus.

Category: Club News

MATCH OFF: Kendal Town (H)

Today's Northern Premier League fixture against Kendal Town has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

A new date will be announced in due course.

Next up for the Rams is a trip to Parkside Road to face Kendal Town on Saturday 7th March. Kick-off 3pm

Category: Club News

Ramsbottom United promotion hopes may not be over just yet

Ramsbottom United were dealt a bitter blow last week after finding out the 2019/20 season would not be completed due to COVID-19. Second, in the table with only one league defeat since the start of November has seen the Rams produce an array of performances and results not seen since the era of Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley.

While of course, the health of the nation remains everyone’s priority for the coming weeks and even months, the disappointment in terminating the Non-League season below the National League North and South has come as a surprise, especially with the Premier League and EFL’s fate still to be decided and the National League seasons only suspended.

As it stands, Barrow, who sit top of the National League would still have a shot at promotion yet Workington, who stand at the summit of Rammy’s division will have their chances of glory ended even though they are only three leagues below. Again, despite the fact football stands well behind health and economic concern, many clubs are not happy with the FA’s decision.

More than 100 football clubs including League One Peterborough and their owner Darragh MacAnthony have sent their disgruntlement to the English Football headquarters regarding the decision to stop all promotion and relegation below National League North and South, calling for a re-think to this dramatic decision. Salford City co-owner Gary Neville also voiced his surprise at the FA’s position.

With all the talk in the game about whether Liverpool or Leeds United should see their seasons work go rewarded or un-rewarded, what about that of Ramsbottom, their fellow competitors Workington and also South Shields, who are leaders of the Bet-Victor Premier Division by 12 points?

The joint club statement reads: "Our concern is grounded primarily in the needless and inexplicable haste exercised in reaching the decision, coupled with a total lack of substantive dialogue or consultation with affected clubs.

The decision also disregards the millions of pounds invested and countless hours expended collectively by clubs, and so has critical financial implications.

In writing this joint letter, we recognise that the decision to expunge results for the 2019-20 season still pends official ratification from the FA Council.

However, we believe it is unacceptable that such a decision has been handed down to us in this manner. We urgently seek constructive dialogue with the FA with the aim to have the decision reconsidered."

And yes, while Ramsbottom United were only second in the league and 10 points behind Workington with three games in hand, performances over the last 20 games suggest a matchplay style shootout between the two sides would have ensued in the run-in period of the season, similar to that of the game contested between the sides at the end of January. We cannot say Chris Willcock’s side would have guaranteed promotion if the world was still working normally, but the past tells us a lot about the future and this is no exception.

The FA statement in response to the lower league football rally stated:

"The decision taken to end the 2019-20 season across steps 3-7 of the National League system, the women's football pyramid and the wider grassroots game was made by committee representatives for the respective leagues, and was supported by the FA Board and the FA Women's Board.

"It will now go to the FA Council for ratification. We fully support the decision they came to during these challenging and unprecedented circumstances for English football.”

For now, we see Rammy’s fate is still well within the hands of the FA however a sole candle is still burning on their hopes of the season re-starting at some point. Whether that be summer or autumn is anybody’s guess and only when Britain has a firm grip on the coronavirus. Perhaps the best decision to make is for all of English Football from top to bottom follows the same decision strategy- finish the season or abandon it.

Category: Club News

Chris Willcock praises fan following

With the football season currently on-hold due to COVID-19, football fans up and down the country have been left feeling rather downhearted about how they will now spend their Saturday afternoons over the next few months.

However, life is never as bad as one thinks it may be and Ramsbottom manager Chris Willcock was full of praise for the support he and his men received following on from the most recent away win at Marine which saw Jamie Rother net a late winner in impressive fashion.

“It was great to see a large away support at Marine on Saturday”, remarked Wiilcock. “It was essentially a key game because of the league positions of both clubs. Our away support has started to gain momentum with larger numbers and it was great to see them giving the lads a standing ovation which they clearly deserved at full time.

“Fans gathered behind the goal were in full voice throughout the game and their experience was given best value with Jamie Rother’s 88th minute winner”.

Rother has featured less regularly in the starting eleven over the past few months but his moment in the sun was well deserved on Merseyside.

A club stalwart who is the definition of loyalty, was fully complemented by the manager, as was his fellow stablemates Daniel Naidole and Richie Baker.

“Jamie has been an integral part of the run that we have put together but unfortunately he has been struggling with his injury throughout February. Since Jamie's injury, Daniel Naidole and also Richie Baker have come back into contention and replaced Jamie. Both players contributing massively to maintaining our good form.

“After February was virtually a washout, the lack of playing time has led to an understandable rustiness amongst the starting eleven, but the most recent away games at Marine and Kendal have produced grand stand finishes with both Rother and Luke Thompson getting on the scoresheet within the final moments.

“The lads have been working hard away from match day games in training but there's nothing like playing and we have lost a bit of sharpness and that was there for all to see at Kendal the previous week. However I must say against Marine our sharpness was back and we were looking like our old selves”.

The celebration of the Rammy fans behind the goal was a joy to behold when Rother scored, yet the picture of Willcock was even better. Now over 18 months into his reign as manager at the Riverside, fans finally got a glimpse of his dance moves.

“I thought it was a time to show off my dancing skills as I got carried away at full time” he said.

In the current climate fans may not get another enjoyment like last Saturday. The post-match celebrations proved why everybody will miss football as the coronavirus crisis continues to worsen. Hopefully our favourite escapism will be back some time soon.

Category: Club News

PREVIEW: Ossett United (H)

After a month of inactivity, the Rams finally reappeared on the pitch on Saturday away to lowly Kendal Town.

In a somewhat understandably rusty performance, a late header from Luke Thompson saw the visitors return home with a welcome three points to keep up the pressure on League leaders Workington who lead the Rams by seven points and a superior goal difference, although the Lancashire side do have two games in hand.

Arriving for a rearranged game is the recently merged Ossett United team.

Struggling third from bottom of the table, Ossett have managed just one league away win all season, whilst the hosts have only dropped all three points once at home, so on the face of it, a home win looks highly likely.

However, as the Rams look to cling on to the coat-tails of Workington, Ossett will be determined to avoid being dragged into a relegation battle, and football being football, it all depends what happens on the night.

It’s now over a month since the home fans had a match to enjoy, so the hope is that the recent increases in attendance numbers can continue with home followers being tempted out of their armchairs to help the team continue with their push for promotion.

The extra support has been greatly appreciated by the team, and the fans can continue to be the “twelfth man” as the last few weeks of the campaign will determine which division the Rams will be in next season.

Category: Club News

PREVIEW: Kendal Town (H)

The Rams finally get back to match action for the first time in three weeks.

During that time, they have been dislodged from the top of the table by Workington, who enhanced that position at the expense of the visitors to the HWRS on Saturday, Kendal Town.

The Mintcakes, as they not surprisingly known, suffered an embarrassing 0-6 home defeat against the afore-mentioned Reds last Saturday, and will no doubt arrive in Ramsbottom with a semblance of pride restoration in place.

Their form this season has been disappointing and they currently sit next to the bottom with just 20 points from their 26 games, the same number as their hosts, who have at the same time acquired 55 points.

The home side’s form at the Riverside has been exceptional with eleven wins and just one draw and defeat apiece, whilst the visitors boast a slightly better away record than at Parkside Road, having won three times, drawing twice, but suffering defeat on eight trips.

The bookies would no doubt have this down as a home banker, but much will depend upon how the squad reacts to the enforced mid-winter break (well if the Premier League need one….!).

Providing the Rams come out all guns blazing, then a victory could well be on the cards, but the visitors will be looking to scramble away from the relegation battle, so are hardly likely to lie down.

The club is also looking to welcome many former players and management for a reunion day, which includes hospitality during the game and a Sportsman’s Dinner afterwards, and over eighty ex-Rams have promised to be there.

The hope is that they are able to enjoy a full day of nostalgia, and that the weather will clear up sufficiently to allow the game to go ahead.

Category: Club News


Without in any way wishing to lessen the effects of the devastation the Coronavirus has caused, and whilst wishing everyone a speedy return to good health and the swift departure of this disease, matters regarding football will always remain close at heart for all followers of the game.

Focussing for the moment, purely on the sport, then Ramsbottom United, as a club, is desperately disappointed at the action taken last week by the FA to declare this season from non-league level three down, “Null and Void”, and to expunge all results.

From our own perspective, this has totally ruined what had been an excellent campaign, and for the FA to jump in with what is an easy decision for them to merely waft a hand at hundreds of clubs and tens of thousands of individuals and ignore us all as though we do not matter, has caused much distress and controversy.

To act as swiftly as they did, in many eyes, was unnecessary, and gave very little time for the matter to be discussed fully. As a result, the FA have received many communications from the likes of the North West Counties League, over sixty clubs and numerous individuals asking that they do not ratify their original decision and take the time to seriously consider the impact on those hundreds of clubs and thousands of individuals. Indeed most Leagues and all clubs were not involved in the decision to effectively abandon clubs at non-league levels three to seven.

We, as a club, were certainly not involved in any deliberation. Surely a brief questionnaire referring to the three alternatives that were on the table should have been sent out?

1-Wait a couple of weeks to see how things develop, 2- End the season now but use the much-publicised “Points per Game” method to at least have given the nine-month campaign some purpose, 3- End the season as null and void.

Answers could have been prepared within minutes allowing the FA to make a decision based on the desires of the clubs they purport to be supporting.

But no, all the efforts put in by everyone over the last nine months apparently will now count for nothing, unless the FA has a change of heart.

This has angered our management and squad members who have produced some excellent football, especially after the inconsistent opening weeks of the season. One defeat in the last seventeen league games had put the club within touching distance of promotion, a target is cruelly taken away.

Club officials and helpers feel as though they need not have bothered with all their unpaid hard work in keeping the club in good shape.

The ever-growing number of supporters have been let down dreadfully, having spent much money and hundreds of hours following the team around the north of England. For what?

We accept that self-interest has played its part in our feeling of injustice as the seemingly preferred-by-many option of “Points per Game” conclusion would have seen the Rams finish second in the Division, whilst no doubt clubs now being given a reprieve from relegation will probably be smiling with relief.

But is it fair to reward a failing season and punish a successful one? That is what the decision of the FA has done.

We will probably have no choice other than to seethe at the unfairness, roll up our sleeves and prepare for the next campaign.

The hope is that we can enter it with a similar management team and squad and that we can hit the ground running, in an effort to right the wrongs of this abandoned season.

We can only hope that those extra supporters who have climbed on board over the last few months, continue to follow the team and help encourage them to promotion in just over twelve month’s time.

Ramsbottom United would wholeheartedly like to thank the management, players, committee, helpers and supporters for all their work and support over the last nine months.

Like everyone else, should the decision to null and void the season be ratified, Ramsbottom United wish to put on record their disapproval and disappointment.

Category: Club News

League Statement: Covid-19

The Northern Premier League has today decided, reluctantly, to suspend all fixtures until further notice in light of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak.

The League would like to congratulate the players, officials, volunteers and fans of clubs able to stage games at the weekend and notes the excellent attendances at those fixtures. Whilst the primary responsibility of the League is to the financial sustainability of its member clubs, the number of clubs reporting players or officials in self-isolation has now reached a point at which continuing to play games would severely undermine the integrity of the competition.

In consultation with the partners Eliteform, all NPL Football Academy fixtures have also been suspended until further notice.

The NPL is well aware that clubs and fans need clarity around whether the 2019/20 season is to be suspended temporarily or permanently, and the full implications of either eventuality.

The NPL will be working with the other Alliance Leagues and the Football Association, to assess the various options and to agree a way forward.

As soon as we are able to, we will share that information with member clubs and their supporters.

Category: Club News

PREVIEW: Kendal Town (A)

It’s now FOUR weeks since Ramsbottom United kicked a ball in anger.

During this enforced lay-off, the Rams have been knocked off top spot by a Workington team that have appeared to have been immune to the incessant rainfall throughout February that has seen game after game postponed.

As a result, the Rams need to play “catch-up” as they have two games in hand over the new leaders, but are seven points, and a worse goal difference behind.

So the team will be raring to go as they make the trip up to south Cumbria to take on a struggling Kendal Town team.

The Mintcakes find themselves next to the bottom, and embroiled in a relegation scrap, having gained just 20 points from their 27 matches.

Their home form at Parkside Road has been disappointing, with eight defeats from thirteen games, whilst the visitors have managed six wins and three draws from their thirteen away trips.

Nialle Rodney is available for selection after re-joining the club last week – you will recall his time at Rammy last season ended with a horrific ankle injury - whilst another new name will be on the teamsheet, although in differing circumstances.

The name of Eddie Cooper may not be familiar, but the player will be. He has recently changed his name by deed poll from Eddie Moran.

So the Rams head up the M6 looking to get their promotion push back on track, with three points not just welcome, but essential.

Category: Club News


Ramsbottom United have made some changes to their squad since we were last in action on 8th February.

We are delighted to announce the return of winger, Nialle Rodney. Nialle re-joins the club from FC United of Manchester, he made 14 appearances scoring 6 goals for the Rams last season before an injury in the FA Trophy last December ended his season early.

Striker, Greg Daniels has left the club to join Cheadle Town, we wish Greg all the best for the future.

Don't forget we are back in action tomorrow at HOME to Kendal Town. Stay tuned for the match preview later today.

Category: Club News


The Ramsbottom United Academy is starting in September and will be based at our stadium, if you contact us and register we can reserve a conditional place in September and/or discuss on an individual basis.

Please find more details in our leaflet below.

Category: Club News

PREVIEW: Marine (A)

The Rams face a crucial trip over to Merseyside to meet a team on the same number of points as themselves, although the Crosby-based outfit have played two games more.

With yet another game falling victim of the weather on Tuesday, league leaders Workington have opened up a ten point gap at the summit, although the Rams have three games in hand of them.

The trip to Marine, therefore, has added significance, for a win for the visitors will open up a gap to third spot with still two games in hand, whilst a home victory will see the east Lancashire side slip to third.

As well as the importance of this fixture, there will also be the little matter of gaining revenge, for the Rams only league defeat at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium this season was the one inflicted by Marine in an entertaining but frustrating 3-4 reversal back in November.

Likewise, the hosts have only suffered one reversal on their own patch, whilst the Rams have notched up seven victories, three draws, and four defeats on their travels (ironically an identical away record to that of Marine)

So the importance of this fixture cannot be over-stated.

The team has come to rely on a good backing from it’s supporters of late, and the hope is that the Rammy followers will troop over to Crosby in good numbers tomorrow to cheer on a team that is itching to get back to playing after a frustrating run of just one game (the win at Kendal last Saturday) in six weeks.

Category: Club News


What are the chances of watching live, THREE current champions from THREE different countries in a season?

Almost impossible you think?

What chance seeing all three in just FIVE DAYS?

Not possible?

Think again!

Ramsbottom United’s Matchday programme editor, as well as producing an excellent publication, is a massive fan of football, and willing to travel anywhere to get a game in.

But even he went beyond the call of duty when he achieved just that recently.

CRAIG DONALDSON firstly ventured over to the Etihad Stadium to watch the ENGLISH champions Manchester City beat West Ham United 2-0 in the Premier League on Wednesday 19th February.

Two days later he crossed the border into the Principality to watch WELSH champions TNS travel to Connah’s Quay Nomads in a crucial top of the table match that saw the home side come out on top in a wind-swept game, 1-0, to open up a four point gap.

Then on Sunday, it was up to north of the border to watch SCOTTISH champions Celtic take on his beloved Kilmarnock, but unfortunately for him, it ended in defeat for Killie by three goals to one.

As well as being heavily involved with the Rams, the Scot spends as much time as possible travelling home to watch his beloved Kilmarnock, but nothing gets in the way of any game of football, no matter where he happens to be.

To see three different League champions in action within five days surely must be some sort of record?

Category: Club News

MATCH OFF: Ossett United (H)

Today's home game against Ossett United has been called off due to a waterlogged pitch.

A new date will be announced in due course

Please stay safe this weekend while Storm Dennis is at large.