If ever a conversation crops up when discussing football clubs in and around the Greater Manchester area, the automatic assumption is ‘so your talking about Manchester United and City then aren’t you’.
By five o’clock tomorrow night, people could well be discussing another ‘United’. The biggest hint in deciding which club I’m talking about is this: They’re located on The Lancashire/Greater Manchester border and play their home matches by The River Irwell.
On Saturday Evo-Stik West division side Ramsbottom United will play their biggest cup game in their history against Weymouth in The FA Trophy second round. Having never got this far in this Non-League competition, Rammy are certainly not in it to make up the numbers.
Having already played eight games which have seen them have to contend with a few replays along the way, while at the same time juggling a promotion battle in their own domestic league, it’s been a busy yet exciting time for those connected with the club.
Officials from Ramsbottom have been promoting the tie all week in preparation for the game on local Radio. Club manager Chris Willcock was in good spirits ahead of Weymouth visit to The Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.
‘Our League form has been going well alongside this game and we can’t wait for Saturday to come We try to emphasise on winning every game. Full credit to the players as they’ve always done the job on the second occasions we’ve played having not won at the first attempt’.
‘The players have to juggle so many things in their lives in which involves work commitments and family lives. The way Weymouth have been operating is completely different to ours over the past 10 years. But at present, we are very much on the up and we don’t want this run to end’.
Having seen season-high attendances over the Christmas period in a thrilling 2-1 victory over Radcliffe on Boxing Day, Ramsbottom fans are clearly enjoying the football that has been played since Willcock took over in October.
Gate numbers are crucial in Non-League and recent attendances can only be good financially for the club. Club secretary Tony Cunningham plays a major part in running the club alongside Chairman Harry Williams and stated that Rammy’s game against Weymouth is certainly their biggest ever cup fixture, and one of the most important at any point since the club was formed in 1966.
The attendances obviously crucial for a Non-League Club but there are not the only thing on the clubs mind at present. The fact that due the club are only a handful of games off a Wembley final in The FA Trophy says something for their efforts in the competition.
Cunningham was thrilled for the clubs current progress. ‘For a club like Rammy to be in the last 32 is tremendous, we’re one of the minnows in the competition that’s for sure. Saturday will be our ninth game in the competition which is almost a quarter of a season’. With Wembley, do Rammy have a chance of making it? ‘There is a chance but of course, but we know it’s a very hard ask’.
Ramsbottom take on a Weymouth side going great guns in their own league, currently lying second in the Evo-Stik Premier South division. But with the beauty of cup football, just anything can happen, as results in all knockout competitions show.
‘Look at some of the FA Cup games last weekend’ said Cunningham. ‘Barnet beating Sheffield United and Newport beating Leicester, they are complete one-offs. Hopefully, if we can get some good support for our lads tomorrow, then you just never know’.