Category: Club News

Ramsbottom United - 18/19 Season Review

The new season began with hopes of an improvement on recent 14th place finishes in the Evo-Stik League second tier, but as September turned into October, such hopes appeared to have been already dashed, as a League record of 3 wins, 3 draws and 3 defeats from 9 games seemed to indicate that another campaign of mediocrity was about to unfurl.

Added to the disappointing league start, the fact that the Rams had already been knocked out of the FA Cup and League Cup merely added to the general air of despondency amongst the clubs’ faithful supporters.

Then came news that the management team had decided to move on.

Swiftly, Chairman Harry Williams contacted former player Chris Willcock, whose managerial record included a promotion and trip to Wembley for Glossop North End, and an impressive 12 victories from 15 games at the end of the previous season for the now-defunct Shaw Lane club in Barnsley.

Having watched the Rams on a number of occasions, Willcock was quick to point out that fitness levels needed to improve, and he soon brought in new players, whilst releasing a number, to match his winning mentality.

What happened during the next six months was more than most supporters could have dreamed about.

Although the ultimate prize of promotion was missed, the subsequent FA Trophy run, and the race up the league table ensured that the club had it’s most entertaining and successful season since the Johnson-Morley days.

Willcock’s reign began with two draws, but having gone behind in the opening minutes away to Trafford in the Preliminary round of the FA Trophy, most supporters had resigned themselves to exiting yet another cup competition at the first hurdle.

Not so. Signs that this new-look Rammy team would have a little more bottle shone through as the deficit was overturned and the club had it’s first knock-out success of the season. More would follow!

In the league, four successive victories were achieved without conceding a single goal. Two visits to Prescot Cables’ Hope Street ground within four days certainly lived up to the name as hope began to surge through the club. Tenants Skelmersdale were easily cast aside on the back of a 3-0 win, whilst the landlords were put to the sword more emphatically by four goals to nil.

The FA Trophy saw a visit to Frickley Athletic, and again, the team responded with a fine 3-0 win, setting up an away day to Yaxley, who, after much searching, was found to be near Peterborough. As one of the club’s longest ever-trips, the original Saturday date eventually turned into a Tuesday night, despite protestations made to the FA, but it did not deter the players from returning home in the early hours on the back of a 2-2 draw.

Attempts by Yaxley to play the original game to a conclusion were brushed aside, and in the midweek replay, which saw the visitors having to endure the same journey in reverse, the home side totally dominated proceedings, and moved onto the next round courtesy of a 5-1 hammering.

This was quickly followed by a another away draw, this time seeing the club make the journey up to north Yorkshire to meet Pickering Town. An uneventful game resulted in a goalless scoreline, with a swift return to the HWRS, where a 2-1 home win was enough to see the club make further progress.

In the league, a disappointing and highly controversial home clash with Runcorn Linnets saw the team register their only league defeat in seven games, with two Ramsbottom players shown a red card by an over-enthusiastic referee who appeared unable to understand certain tactics that were being deployed.

However, that defeat apart, the Rams would go into the new year with a league record under Willcock of played 10, won 7, drawn 2 and lost 1, with 22 goals scored and just 8 conceded. The rise up the table from the lower reaches to the edge of the play-offs had been both dramatic and entertaining.

As was the FA Trophy run.

Another away draw, the fifth on the trot, saw the latest reward being a long journey up to Evo-Stik Premier Division side Workington, but again the team refused to buckle in terrible conditions, and another replay was earned courtesy of a 0-0 draw on the Cumbrian coast. Back at the HWRS, the Reds were to return home on the back of a 2-0 defeat, and, at last, the club’s name came out first when the draw was made on the radio for the next round.

And what a tie it was. Weymouth, riding high at the top of the Southern League Premier Division had the long journey to contend with.

An over-night stop for the Terras in Bury, had them in prime condition when Saturday afternoon arrived, and it looked as though this former Conference club would finally see off the impudent Ramsbottom team, now the lowest-ranked side still in the competition.

Injury time arrived with the visitors 2-1 up, and the home supporters accepting that the long run was about to come to a glorious end. Not so. A last gasp scrambled equaliser was met initially with rapturous joy, before the realisation sunk in that it now meant the team would have to make the 500 mile round journey to the south coast just four days later!

After much confusion, the team travelled down on the day, and what are now regarded as the “Weymouth 17” supporters also made the long trip, much to the delight of the players and management.

No doubt expecting to return home empty-handed, that trip back must have passed in a flash as they were able to reminisce about one of the club’s best-ever victories, an unexpected, but thoroughly deserved 3-1 win, which even had the cushion of a missed penalty.

The draw for the next round had already been made, with a visit to the HWRS from Football League chasing AFC Fylde. A Lancashire derby to savour.

Back in the league, the first home game of the New Year proved a disappointment, as eventual champions Atherton Collieries arrived in town and departed thanks to a much-deserved 3-0 victory. A draw also at home to Leek Town appeared to have knocked the gloss off the main aim, but that blip was soon put to bed as the side launched into another impressive run, which again ensured that a play-off spot, at least, could be targeted.

A trip to Glossop saw a resounding 5-0 success, and as if to go one better, when Skelmersdale arrived in town a week later, they were thrashed even more convincingly, by six goals to nil.

Then came the game that attracted much media attention. The BBC cameras were down at the ground and various radio stations present as AFC Fylde arrived on a rain-sodden night, no doubt expecting a straight-forward win. So it appeared to be, for on two occasions, the Coasters strolled into a two goal lead, and the enjoyable run appeared to be over.

However, this team did not know when they were beaten, and after coming back on both occasions from that deficit, in the last ten minutes, the ground erupted as the home side finally took the lead at 5-4. However, a surprise result was dragged back by the visitors snatching a late equaliser, ensuring a visit to the new Mill Farm ground at Kirkham the following week.

It was there that the run into the last 16 of a competition that attracted well over 200 entrants from all over the country, came to an end.

On another miserable night, the Rams had the temerity to take the lead, but after a promising first half-hour, the hosts grabbed control of the match and finally ran out deserved winners on the back of a rather flattering 4-1 scoreline.

The FA Trophy saw the club compete in twelve matches and endure over 1300 miles of travel, as the run will live long in the memory of everyone involved with the club.

However, as we bade farewell to that competition, the primary task returned with a home win against soon-to-be-returning-to-Welsh-football Colwyn Bay, which was followed by two more emphatic victories, 6-0 at Newcastle Town, and 4-0 at Trafford.

Hopes were high that the automatic promotion spot was within our grasp.

Two home games were coming up, against a Colne side that invariably got the better of the Rams in recent seasons, and mid-table Widnes. Six points here would seriously put pressure on the top teams, and the fans turned up in expectation that these would be gained.

Alas, it was not to be, as Colne deservedly kept up their run against us with an emphatic win, whilst Widnes were fortunate to grab all three points.

Those two defeats but a dent in the side’s aspirations, but three wins and a draw in the next four games appeared to steady the ship.

Then came the biggest blow. Newcastle Town arrived, still smarting from the hammering they received in Staffordshire, and duly enacted revenge by gaining a surprise 2-1 victory.

Disappointing as that was, the team completed the remaining five fixtures with three wins and two draws, the last of which, in the home game against Kidsgrove, saw the visitors notch a last minute equaliser, which dropped the Rams into fifth place, and a play-off semi-final against local rivals Radcliffe the following Tuesday.

Having met just over a week previously at Stainton Park in an uneventful 0-0 draw, the whole season now rested on a possible two play-off games.

As it transpired, on the night, in front of a large crowd, the Rams failed to perform at their best, and few would argue that Radcliffe deserved the 3-0 win, which saw them contest the Play-Off Final, in which they were victorious against Leek Town, resulting in their promotion, whilst the Rams had to lick their wounds.

Although the ultimate prize just eluded the Rams, much can be gained from the campaign as a whole.

Mediocrity transformed into hope.

As one supporter stated “We used to go to matches HOPING to win. Now we go EXPECTING to win”, which probably sums up the changes that have been seen throughout the campaign.

A great run in the FA Trophy, and a fine campaign league-wise under Willcock’s stewardship which, in his 29 league games saw 18 victories, 6 draws and just 5 defeats, a massive improvement on recent seasons, and on the beginning of this one. Add to that his record in the FA Trophy (Played 12, won 6, drawn 5, lost 1) and the success since the appointment in early October, overall reads, Played 41, Won 24, Drawn 11, Lost 6.

The closed season gives everyone time to take a breather, but hopes will be high come August that next season can see Ramsbottom United make a determined, and hopefully successful, push for promotion.


Category: Club News

PREVIEW: Radcliffe (A) - Play Off Semi Final


The Rams renew rivalries with Radcliffe in a repeat of the Easter Monday fixture just eight days earlier which turned out to be something of a non-event as both sides failed to find the target.

Going into the last fixture of the regular season on Saturday last, Radcliffe had already guaranteed a home play-off spot courtesy of that draw, whilst for the Rams, they were one of four clubs chasing the other three spots. Fortunately that aim was acheived.

During the home game against Kidsgrove, Ramsbottom’s fate changed numerous times throughout the 90 minutes.

It looked like being a home tie against Colne in the play-off semis but then as results altered elsewhere, Leek looked the likely opponents at the HWRS.

With five minutes to go, Leek took the lead at Colwyn Bay, meaning the Rams would need to make the journey down to Staffordshire, before a last minute equaliser for Kidsgrove saw the Rams move down to fifth as the final whistles blew.

The outcome of that was an away day at second placed Radcliffe which sees a Bury Metro derby, the outcome of which will see one of the local sides eliminated, whilst the victors move on to the Play-off Final on Saturday.

The winner will oppose the successful team from the Leek v Colne semi-final, and should Radcliffe win, they will be at home, whilst the Rams, should they overcome their neighbours, will be away.

Promotion should be the eventual prize, but the FA in their wisdom have thrown one or two obstacles in the way, and, without going into detail (it’s too complicated to explain!) there is still the possibility that promotion will be denied.

But that’s for the future.

In the meantime it’s all eyes on the happenings in Radcliffe in what promises to be an exciting and crucial contest.

Category: Club News


Evo-Stik League Ramsbottom United have teamed up with specialist sport and education provider Dragon Football Academy to set up a Ramsbottom United under 18 College team for next season.

Dragon Football Academy will also, as a key part of the agreement, deliver a study and education programme that includes an Extended Diploma in Sport & Physical Activity combined with a range of other level 2 and 3 qualifications.

The education and football coaching programme will be delivered by qualified and experienced tutors and football coaches employed by Dragon Football Academy and College League and FA Youth Cup.

Ramsbottom United FC and Dragon Football Academy are now launching a student recruitment campaign but the entry criteria requires footballers aged 16-18 to have the minimum of 4 GCSE’s. Enrolled students who meet the attendance and participation requirements of the course will receive a weekly allowance from Dragon Football Academy.

An open evening trials session is to be held at Wright Robinson High School, Manchester (M18 8RL) on Monday, 29th April starting at 6pm, and every Monday thereafter.

Students interested in joining should contact Dragon Football Academy, Academy coordinator Callum Davies on 07809420118 or by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Further information about Elite can be obtained by accessing their website

Dragon Football Academy said: “We are delighted to announce our partnership with Ramsbottom United FC which will offer talented footballers a realistic pathway into semi-professional football and beyond.”

A spokesman for the club added: “We are really pleased to partner up with Dragon Football Academy as this allows Ramsbottom United to move onto a new level, encouraging youngsters to gain degrees whilst improving their football skills and enhancing the profile of the club”.

Category: Club News


Players, management and Supporters got together on Saturday night, to celebrate the end of the season for Evo-Stik West side Ramsbottom United.

A season that began in mediocre mode proved to be one of the best in recent years, with a final league placing of fifth, which saw them compete in the play-offs, and an exciting journey to the last 16 of the FA Trophy.

Held in the adjacent cricket club, a speech from Chairman Harry Williams indicated just how well the season had progressed under new manager Chris Willcock. Harry indicated that the change of management had certainly improved performances and that the club is now looking to making further strides in an attempt to regain Evo-Stik Premier Division status, with more work expected to take place on the ground throughout the summer break.

He thanked everyone who had worked tirelessly behind the scenes, and reiterated just how much is involved in running a semi-professional club at this level. He also thanked manager Chris Willcock and his coaching staff, noting that when the previous manager left he immediately contacted Chris, with no-one else in mind, having known what a fine job he had done at other clubs, and the fact that he had spent a couple of seasons as a player with the Rams. He also praised the players for their efforts on behalf of the club, and their fine FA Trophy run.

Club captain Tom Kennedy spoke, stating that having had a wonderful career professionally, joining Ramsbottom United has allowed him to enjoy his football this season. He praised the team spirit within the side and how the players all mix well together, and the fact that he has had many laughs and much banter with the Chairman. He looked forward to more success in the future.

Manager Chris Willcock thanked the Chairman for offering him the opportunity to return to management at a time when he felt he was struggling to get back into the game. He stated that he had needed to rebuild the squad, which he did quickly, and praised the players for the way they had stuck to the task and produced some entertaining football. He also highlighted the excellent work undertaken by his coaching staff, and although disappointed that promotion failed to materialise, felt that with an extra three months preparation time for next season, the club could really push on in an attempt to gain promotion next time. He thanked the supporters for their backing, especially the “Weymouth 17” who made the long midweek journey to the south coast to follow the club in the FA Trophy replay, and was happy that they had something to celebrate.

Flowers were handed out to four hard working girls at the club, Sophie Fletcher, Dawn Comer, Katie Worswick and Emma Debono, as appreciation for their efforts throughout the season.

Trophies were then presented on the night, the first going to the player voted the “Players’ Player of the Season”.

This was handed over by the manager to winger NIC EVANGELINOS.

The “Supporters Player of the Year” was won by club captain TOM KENNEDY, who received his award along with the large Club Cup from supporter Dawn Comer.

A “Special Award” was presented by assistant manager Lee Donafee in recognition of an outstanding goal-scoring feat during the club’s mammoth FA Trophy run. Ten goals were scored in the twelve games played, including a hat-trick in the amazing 5-5 draw at the HWRS against AFC Fylde, by NIC EVANGELINOS, who scooped this prize.

Finally the “Clubman of the Year” went to someone who had not missed a game all season. As this was being mentioned, he whispered that he hadn’t missed a game in THREE seasons, making the awarding of the trophy even more relevant. This went to the club’s long-standing and popular photographer FRANK CROOK, who as well as providing all the snapshots for publication, spends much of the week down at the ground doing whatever is necessary to keep the stadium in prime condition and the pitch similar.

The night ended with a feeling that, although the season just ended had been most enjoyable, the optimism for the new campaign was already tangible, and as the fans take a break, the management will now begin the task of putting together a strong squad for next season, whilst work behind the scenes will continue through the summer months.

All the photos from the presentation night are below, taken by Frank Crook

Category: Club News

PHOTOS: Rams 2 Kidsgrove 2

Photos from yesterday's 2-2 draw against Kidsgrove, taken by Club Photographer Frank Crook
Category: Club News

PREVIEWS: Bumper weekend of action - Mossley (H) & Radcliffe (A)

As the end of the season approaches, two games over the Easter holidays will prove crucial for the prospects of Ramsbottom United.

From a lower league placing to the possibility of a play-off spot has been the result of the appointment of Chris Willcock as manager in early October.

Greatly improved league form following a team rebuilding exercise, has seen the Rams enjoy an encouraging campaign, but the battle for the play-off spots is hotting up by the week.

Currently occupying the last of the four places, three victories for the Rams would ensure a place in the end of season lottery, with promotion to Evo-Stik Premier the much-valued prize.

However, standing in the way over the next few days are two of Ramsbottom’s main rivals – Radcliffe, who, after a number of years struggling at the wrong end of the table, have enjoyed a tremendous campaign, and Mossley, who likewise have had their best season in years.

Two wins would probably guarantee a top five finish, with a home game against mid-table Kidsgrove Athletic the following Saturday, but defeats could edge the Rams agonisingly out of the equation, which would be hard to take after the performances under Willcock.

As well as an excellent run in the League, no-one will forget the record-breaking FA Trophy experience, which saw a last gasp equaliser at home to Southern League champions Weymouth, followed by an astonishing victory on the south coast in the replay.

That, of course, took us onto the home game against Football League-chasing AFC Fylde on a miserable Tuesday night at the HWRS. And what a game that was! Twice coming back from a two goal deficit, the Rams staggered everyone by taking the lead late on only to be pegged back to 5-5. The replay was lost, but much admiration gained from around the country.

Ultimately though, the League is the priority, which is why this weekend is so crucial.

Both games should attract large crowds, and the club hopes supporters turn up in large numbers to cheer the lads to victories which would ensure an even better end to the season in what are always exciting and nail-biting play-off games.

Good weather is predicted with all teams in fine runs of form, so the entertainment should be well worth watching!

The Current Table is below (as at Thursday 18th April at 5.15pm)

Category: Club News

BREAKING: Tom Kennedy in Evo-Stik West Team of Year.

Tom Kennedy has been announced in the Evo-Stik team of the year.

Tom has made 45 apperances for the Rams this season scoring 4 goals so far.

He's been named in the team alongside; Danny Roberts (Leek Town); TOM KENNEDY, Callum Grogan (Radcliffe FC), Danny Lafferty (Atherton Colls), Waqas Azam (Colne FC); Daniel Trickett-Smith (Leek Town), Max Leonard (Mossley FC), Ben Hardcastle (Atherton Colls); Tunde Olowabi (Radcliffe FC), Alex Curran (Colne FC), Chris Almond (Prescot Cables).

(Photo below courtesy of the Evo-Stik League)

Category: Club News


As the 2018/19 season draws to a close, a certain symmetry fell nicely into place as the final winner of Ramsbottom United’s “Player-of-the-Month”, as voted for by the supporters, also happened to be the recipient of the first award of the season back in August, Jamie Rother.

Jamie, now in his fifth season with the club, recently completed 100 games in a Rams shirt, and after injury hit early seasons, has proved to be a consistent hard-working midfield player throughout this campaign, and his all-action displays have made him a firm favourite with the Rammy faithful.

He received his award, along with a case of beer from League sponsors Bowland Brewery, at the end of season Presentation Night held in the adjacent cricket club on May 4th.

Category: Club News


A season that began with mediocre form has been turned on its head since the arrival of manager Chris Willcock in early October.

From a bottom half league placing, Ramsbottom United now find themselves one game away from confirming their place in the end-of-season play-offs.

With Atherton Collieries now confirmed as Champions and Radcliffe, as a result of the 0-0 draw against the Rams on Easter Monday, now assured of second place and a home draw on Tuesday in the semi-final, four teams are left to contest the other three play-off spots.

As things stand, providing the Rams avoid defeat in the last scheduled league game at home to mid-table Kidsgrove Athletic on Saturday, their inclusion in the play-offs next week is guaranteed.

That spot would also be confirmed should Colne fail to beat relegated Skelmersdale away or Runcorn Linnets can’t gather the three points on offer at Glossop North End.

However, should both those sides prove successful, then the Rams would need just one point to finish in the top five.

A win against a side that knocked Ramsbottom out of the FA Cup in former manager Mark Fell’s tenure early in the season, would guarantee a third or fourth place finish, depending on Leek Town’s result away at a Colwyn Bay side who would be playing their final game in the English pyramid before reverting back to Welsh football next season.

Should Leek and Ramsbottom both win, then the semi-final next Tuesday would take place between the two sides in Staffordshire, but should the Rams win and Leek fail to do so, then the fixture against whoever finishes in fourth place would be at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, with a 7.45pm kick off.

So with just one game left of the regular season, there is still all to play for, and in a campaign that has already thrown up many twists and turns, no doubt Saturday will produce one or two more.

Worst case scenario for the Rams is that Runcorn and Colne both win, and Kidsgrove return home with all three points. That would see Chris Willcock’s efforts all be for nought.

Hopefully a large crowd will turn up to cheer the boys in blue to another week of action and, as many well remember from the last time the play-offs were contested, a fascinating end to what has been a very entertaining season.

The League table (as at 9am Friday 26th April)

Category: Club News


As always, the supporters of Ramsbottom United vote for their player-of-the-month, and the winner by an almost unanimous vote for March was striker JAMIE RAINFORD.

Despite missing the first game of the month, his influence in the other six matches was enormous as he notched seven goals in those matches as the Rams chased a play-off place with an impressive run in the League.

He also received a case of beers from League Sponsor Bowland Brewery.

Category: Club News


At a time when players seem to move from club to club on an annual basis, it’s good to report that two players have served RAMSBOTTOM UNITED well, and as a result have been recognised for staying at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.

Battling midfield player JAMIE ROTHER joined the Rams in the summer of 2014.

However, his first three seasons saw the player plagued by injury, so much so that a bad injury in a pre-season game at New Mills in the summer of 2016 saw him miss virtually the entire season, making a meagre four appearances late on.

Over the last two years, however, he has remained fairly clear of such, and is a regular and popular figure with his combative style in the centre of the park.

He has now reached the 100 game milestone for the club, and remains a firm favourite of the Rammy supporters.

Another who has forced his way into Rammy folklore is centre-half LUKE THOMPSON

Luke signed for the club in the summer of 2016 from NWCFL side Nelson, and has been a staple part of the Rams defence over the last three seasons.

With his never-say-die attitude, he adds to his defensive qualities by nodding home a good few goals at the other end, as his surge forward is usually accompanied by chants of “Thommooo!” from the Rammy fans.

Luke has now completed 125 appearances for the team, and, as with Jamie, will be looking to secure a play-off spot at the end of the season in the hope that the Rams can reclaim their place in Evo-Stik Premier Division.

Both players were presented with their photos ahead of the recent 4-0 home victory over Droylsden.

Category: Club News

PREVIEW: Droylsden (H)

As the final month of the campaign hits home, it’s a quick return fixture for the Rams against a team beaten on their own patch less than three weeks ago, thanks to a last minute winner in a thriller that finished 3-2 to the visitors.

A similar result at home is essential if a play-off place (minimum) is to be guaranteed.

Just four games to go in what has been a momentous season for Ramsbottom United, and the jostling for positions at the top of the table looks like continuing until the very end.

Droylsden arrive at the HWRS in mid-table with little to play for other than pride, but for the Rams it is very much essential that all four final fixtures produce the maximum return.

Ryan Ellison completes the last of his four game ban, whilst the rest of the squad is available for selection (excluding long-term absentee Nialle Rodney, of course) and manager Chris Willcock will be hoping the poor home form can finally be consigned to the dustbin, as three defeats from the last four on home soil is totally at odds with the superb away form which sees the club unbeaten on it’s league travels since the change of management early in October.

This continued last week with an excellent 2-1 away win at fellow-promotion chasing Runcorn Linnets. Let’s hope the townsfolk turn out in numbers to encourage the lads to grab all three points and keep the tension going until the very last kick of the season.


****Due to the Chocolate Festival in town this weekend, supporters are advised to arrive earlier than normal, as parking in the town will be severely restricted. Indeed, public transport may be a favourable option.****