Category: Club News

The club needs your support ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.

The 2019/20 season ended abruptly due to the global pandemic Covid-19.

The Rams were flying high and chasing promotion with ten games remaining, six of those games were at home. The loss of revenue from these games and potentially two massive play-off games could have a detrimental effect on finances for a non-league club reliant on gate/tea bar/merchandise/programme money.

After weighing up our options and seeing the success that other non-league clubs have had with their fundraising pages, we have decided to set up our own.

If you would wish to donate anything at all we would be hugely grateful. No amount is too little, and every penny raised will go to a club powered by volunteers and good will. Perhaps you would like to donate what you would have spent on the gate or what you would have spent on your half time pint. Anything will help us.

As a way of saying thank you to all those who have supported us already and continue to support us, we have devised a list of incentives and rewards at the bottom of this page.

No non-league club can survive without its fans and now we need you more than ever.

Thanks for all your continued support.

Up the Rams!

For EVERY £5 you donate to our GO FUND ME page you will be given an entry in to our draw for one of the fantastic TEN rewards we have put together with the help of the Management team as a thank you for all your generosity. For example, a £50 donation will gain you ten entries in to the draw! The draw will be made once the fundraising page has finalised.

Full matchday experience- Picked up on a Saturday morning and taken for pre match brunch with the management team. Then on to the game and (as an honorary member of the backroom staff) experience when and how everything is put into practice including team talks, warmups and the dressing room at half time and full time. Finally, into the bar for a drink with the squad.

Man of the Match Decision Maker - The chance to choose a man of the match for every single Ramsbottom game for the 2020/21 season and present a trophy for most man of the matches at the end of season awards night.

Player Sponsorship- 2 prize opportunities available to sponsor a player of your choice for the upcoming season, this includes info in the programme and on the club website.

Full Page advert in matchday programme- For you or a business of your choice

Half page advert in matchday programme- 2 prize opportunities for this. For you or a business of your choice.

Teamsheet Sponsorship- for you or a business of your choice to feature on the team sheet

Signed 2020/21 match day shirt- Signed shirt from the management and Squad

Feature on the 2020/21 team photo – feature on the team photo with players and management

A feature on the front cover of the match day programme- For a home game this season you can work alongside our programme editor, Craig, and choose the design for the front cover. Want just a picture of your friends’ mugshot? Choose anything (appropriate for a football programme ha!) you want.

**Alongside these amazing rewards our Manager Chris Willcock is also offering a Mystery reward. This is open to the first person/business to donate £500 or more to the cause. This is a fantastic opportunity for someone and will be revealed once the donation has been made. You do not want to miss out on this!!**


(Please copy and paste the link to your browser)

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



FRIDAY 4th MAY 2007


Despite considering myself a relatively long-standing Rammy supporter, I have to start by admitting I wasn’t actually there in person on the occasion of this particular chapter in the Rams’ past history of successes and great occasions.

Instead, having recourse to Rammy You-Tube, I am like any other viewer watching the game for the first time. And what a game it was!

What a player Ryan Moore was on the day! If the other 21 starting players on the field seemed rather intimidated by the venue – Reebok Stadium, sixth successive season proud home of Bolton Wanderers and their continued Premier League status – Ryan Moore ( Rammy No 10 ) seemed merely to see it as a natural show-case to illustrate his talents, which he did by scoring a hat-trick!

The video recording of the match at the Reebok – with ground capacity approaching 30,000 – shows acres of unoccupied seats which to today’s audience – should it have been deemed necessary at the time – would have made ‘social distancing’ easy to have achieved on the day.

On a different level, and as far as both teams were concerned on the day, the snooker table surface of the ground seemed to present extra problems. Accustomed as both teams were to playing on rougher surfaces!

It is interesting to put this match into broader context in terms of the development of Ramsbottom United FC since its foundation by present Chairman Harry Williams going back fantastically as far as 1966!

Soon after the inception of the present club from being a park team, Ramsbottom United had joined the Bolton Combination the year after before moving on to join the Manchester League in 1987. It was at the end of the 1994/5 season that the club applied to the NWCFL ( North West Counties Football League ) and been admitted into the pyramid in June 1995.

Becoming 2nd Division Champions at the end of 1996/7, the club had achieved successful positions in 1999/2000 and 2000/1 but suffered leaner spells thereafter.

During this time though, the Bolton Hospital Cup competition had provided notable ‘distraction’ with cup final wins spanning 2005/6, 2006/7 and 2007/8.

However it wasn’t to be until 2011/2 that joint-managers Johnson and Morley achieved further league success, supplemented with further promotion after the 2014 play-off victory at Bamber Bridge in 2014.

Today’s video showing, as the match against Bamber Bridge three weeks ago, reminds faithful supporters of past triumphs. More than that, it hopefully should serve to remind us of the enormous potential of the present playing staff and supportive management team working towards ensuring the further successful future of the club.
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


Last month, we launched our GoFundMe page to help support the club through these tough times.

So far we've recieved nearly £4,000 which is 40% of our target.

We'd really appreciate it if you could help by donating to our fundraiser

There's also the added incentive of the BIG PRIZE DRAW, which you can read about below.


Category: Club News


Much to the annoyance and anger at Ramsbottom United, the FA Council, in it’s questionable wisdom, has ratified the earlier decision to “null and void” the 2019/20 season. This means that all results are expunged, and come August (or whenever) we all begin again.

To be fair to the Northern Premier League, when the original discussions between the various leagues at non-league steps 3 to 7 took place, their preference was, should the decision have been made to end the season, a “points-per-game” finish which would have allowed promotion and relegation.

However, they were outvoted by other leagues, and had to bow to pressure to accept the “null and void” outcome.

Also, the proposed extra division in the NPL for step 4 has been deferred until the beginning of season 2021/22, so it’s a case of “as you were”. Already cancelled were the Chairmans’ meeting, the Players Awards night, the League AGM and the Presentation Dance and Awards evening.

So in effect, we may as well not have bothered putting in all the hard work and support over the last nine months.

We fully understand that the current situation is a one-off, and could certainly never have been anticipated, but it still leaves a feeling of frustration and disappointment. Whilst football at overall levels seven down have been decided by the FA, it is interesting to note that they have so far failed to instruct the top six levels what to do. Not sufficient power presumably!

We have no choice other than to accept our fate, but with just one defeat in the last seventeen league games, the denial of a possible promotion is hard to take. How will things look when the game is finally restarted?

As with every closed season, changes will be made, but the hope of everyone connected with “Rammy” is that a consolidated effort will be made from the very beginning to right the wrongs of this decision, and an all-out attempt to gain promotion come May 2021 that could and possibly should have been ours in May 2020. The new season will also begin without the sponsorship of BetVictor, who have pulled out of their joint sponsorship deal with the NPL, Southern League and Isthmian League. A new major sponsor is currently being sought.

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



The coronavirus which hit the country in March, put an unexpected end to a season that was building up to a fascinating finale.

As the FA decided to “null and void” the season, the Rams were on a run of League form that had seen them defeated just once in seventeen matches, a run that had seen them rise from mid-table to second place, ten points behind Workington, but with three games in hand.

Hopes were high after an important victory over in Crosby against Marine, that the title could well be in our sights, but such dreams were devastatingly snatched away.

However, whilst we are talking of disappointments on the football pitch, outside issues concerning the virus rightly took precedence, and whilst the frustration of all concerned with the Rams was evident, football had to come second, and so we draw a line under what had been a highly entertaining campaign.

Having been knocked out in the play-off stages the previous May, the new campaign, under manager Chris Willcock who was now preparing for his first full season in charge, began in optimistic style.

A 3-2 home win on the opening day of the season against Widnes was followed days later with another three points up in Pickering. A third successive league victory at home to Trafford had us vying with the early table leaders, but a downturn in form saw the team gain just two victories in their next eight league fixtures, as the slide down the table saw us fall into an anonymous mid-table slot.

During that time the Rams suffered a couple of humiliating away defeats. A lack-lustre performance at high-flying Workington saw the team make a miserable long journey home on the back of a 1-5 defeat, which followed an even heavier reversal the week before in the FA Cup up at National League North side Gateshead.

So having disposed of lower league opposition in Winsford United (after a replay) and Maltby Main, an anticipated run in the FA Cup failed to materialise, whilst more disappointingly, so did a run in the FA Trophy competition which had seen the club into the last sixteen the season before. This time local rivals Colne came to town and ended our interest at the first attempt with a 1-3 defeat.

The worrying lack of form and inconsistency saw a number of loan players depart, and manager Willcock brought in a number of new signings in an effort to steady the ship. After another disappointing loss against another east Lancashire in

Clitheroe, the next home game against promotion-chasing Marine at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium seemed to turn the corner.

Trailing 1-4 at the interval, the team came out for the second half with a renewed spirt, and clawed their way back to 3-4, desperately unlucky not to rescue a point that would have been more than justified.

That new outlook began to take hold, and suddenly performances improved dramatically.

A draw at home to Runcorn Linnets followed before an excellent and gritty performance garnered all three points away at Prescot Cables.

Ten more league games passed before the team would taste defeat again.

The confidence such a run produces also saw some free-flowing football rewarded by a pan-full of goals.

The whole team responded with strikes hitting the back of the net from all angles.

Five goals were scored in quick succession in three home games against City of Liverpool, a Marske United team only previously beaten once in the league, and local rivals Droysden. After a relatively tame draw on the plastic pitch at Widnes, Mossley felt the full force of the rejuvenated team when they arrived in Ramsbottom on Boxing Day, only to return to Tameside on the back of a 7-1 thrashing.

That was the first of five successive victories that saw the team shoot up the table. Local rivals Trafford fell on their own ground on New Years Day, whilst Pickering Town were despatched at home followed by an excellent 5-2 win in Bootle against City of Liverpool – the second time the Merseysiders had conceded five goals against the Rams. Two late goals saw a rather fortunate three points gained at Brighouse Town, before the impressive run was temporarily halted after a long Tuesday night trip to Dunston.

Within days that disappointment had been forgotten. League leaders Workington arrived at the HWRS, and in a stark reminder as to how the team’s fortunes had changed since that miserable trip to the Cumbrian coast in September, the Rams put the leaders firmly in their place with a performance that only ended up 2-0, but in reality could have seen another five goals notched.

That victory in front of a season-best crowd of 622 saw the clubs swap places, and Ramsbottom United sat proudly on top of the table.

Two easy 3-0 wins, away to Droylsden and at home to Tadcaster Albion, cemented that place as everyone at the HWRS began to look towards the end of the season with much optimism. Workington, Marine and Pontefract Collieries (who had a number of games in hand) were breathing down the team’s necks, but such was the confidence that it was a case of “let them catch us”.

Alas, the wettest February on record allowed the Cumbrian side to do just that, as one can only assume the rain did not come down quite as hard up in the far north west. Workington overtook the Rams to regain top spot and despite winning the only two league games to take place between 8th February and 16th March, when the season was brought to an abrupt halt (away to Kendal and that exciting game at fellow promotion hopefuls Marine), the table-toppers had by then extended the gap at the top to the afore-mentioned ten points.

Despite the hope that promotion could still be achieved, one way or another, all at the club had to eventually accept that the efforts of everyone connected with Ramsbottom United had ultimately been in vain.

The fact that the team had suffered just one solitary defeat in the league since 2nd November proved just what an attractive side had been put together.

After the mixed start, it was generally acknowledged that this was the best Ramsbottom United team since the promotion days of Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson.

Goals were scored almost at will, and nicely spread amongst the whole of the team. The Northern Premier League acknowledged the efforts of the players by naming Ramsbottom United “North West Division Team of the Month” on two separate occasions.

The attacking formation had produced some excellent performances, with the biggest average attendance at the ground for quite a few seasons.

With six more home games scheduled, and the possibility of a couple of play-off games should Workington not have been over-hauled, then that average could have risen even higher. However, it all came to nothing, and despite the enjoyment over those eight months, it’s a case of “how you were” as we look forward to another attempt at gaining promotion to the Northern Premier League Premier Division, whenever football is given the go-ahead to resume.

Whenever that is, the supporters of the Rams will be looking forward to another campaign with optimism and enthusiasm as the club looks to rectify the disappointment felt as a result of that unseen virus.

As the 2019-20 season has now ended, Chairman Harry Williams and the Committee of Ramsbottom United would like to place on record it’s appreciation of everyone who has helped the club throughout the season.

Our thanks to the management team and players for producing such great entertainment and enjoyment.

To our Main Sponsor, Rosebridge, for their considerable support, and to all the other companies and individuals who have also sponsored matches.

To those companies that have taken adverts around the ground and in various publications such as the matchday programme and fixtures chart.

To those who have gladly given up their time to help on the pitch and around the ground to maintain the high standards set at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.

To the helpers on match days, selling programmes, raffle tickets, golden goals and anything else in an attempt to encourage supporters to part with their cash!

To the members of the media side of the club, who photograph and film matches, and the reporters and radio commentators, whose efforts help raise the profile of the club.

To anyone else who has given their time and in many cases cash to ensure the future of Ramsbottom United continues to look bright.

And finally, to the ever-growing band of supporters, without whom the whole exercise would be pointless!

Many thanks to all the above….much too many to name individually, but you all know who you are!

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.