by | Dec 30, 2023

When I wrote this similar article about the statistical review of the 2022 calendar year, which was rather a year to forget, it closed with the words “a positive result in the final game of the year on Boxing Day has given the supporters a little bit of positivity heading into 2023.  Let the good times roll back at Ramsbottom United”.

Three managers, 72 players and a relegation back to the North West Counties League later and the hopes and dreams of a more positive 2023 were sadly deeply unfounded.

But let’s look at the upsides – no, honestly, here are some brightening facts and figures that will even have the most ardent Rammy supporter think back and go, oh, it wasn’t all that bad!

  • In 2022, we won 9 games.  In 2023, we won 11!
  • In 2022, our win% was 23.68.  In 2023, our win% is 26.19.
  • In 2022, our goals per game average was just 1.16.  In 2023, a mighty leap up to 1.50!
  • In 2022, we won 2 away games and had a win% of 11.76.  In 2023, we won 5 on the road with a win% of 23.81.

See… what a year it has been!

I, as a statistician by trade look to Mark Twain’s words, previously attributed to the British Prime Minister of 1874 to 1880, Benjamin Disraeli as our staple, our motto if you like.  “There are three kinds of lies – lies, damned lies and statistics.”

So, let’s have a look at the basics – we played 42 league games in the calendar year of 2023 and won 11, drew 9 and lost 22.  We won more games than last year, drew more than last year and lost the same amount as last year.

We scored 63 goals, a jump from the 44 we collected in the last 12 months but did concede 86 – the first year since 2016 that our goals per game average conceded stepped over the two mark and only the third time in our semi-professional history.

What cannot be hidden though is that our win% in 2023 of 26.19 was our third worst in the last 20 years, marginally better than last year but still, not great.

20 wins from the last 80, coupled with 44 defeats in the last two years has continued what has been the most barren run in our club’s history and, of course, it saw us relegated for just the second time in our illustrious history.

It was good to see that we reached double figures in the win column considering that it took us 14 games and three months at the start of the year to place a ‘one’ in the winning column, the home 2-1 victory over 1874 Northwich with Jordan Scanlon hitting the 82nd minute winner.

With three managers used across the year – the year starting with the hugely likable Lee Donafee, a super guy who loved the club and tried his level best but his tenure ended with just 19 wins from 72 games and a win% of only 26.39.

Only Jon Robinson (win% of 16.22), who was thrown in at the very deepest of deep ends when Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley were poached by Salford City in 2015 and the truly woeful Garry Vaughan, who oversaw five wins in his 34 games in charge (win% 14.71) had a worse record that ‘Diego’.

Donafee left following a very surprising 1-1 draw away at Workington, which was just our second point of the year and in came former FC United of Manchester assistant David Chadwick to attempt to steer HMS Rammy to safety.

With the toughest of jobs ahead, Chaddy would become the first permanent Rammy manager to suffer defeat in his opening game since Johnson and Morley’s famous 0-5 reverse at Newcastle Town in 2009 and it was hoped that he would go onto a record similar positive career at the Rams.

One point from his first seven games followed though until the 1874 Northwich result but the Rams’ fate was well and truly sealed by then and the 2-1 home win over Newcastle Town was just a cheery farewell to the NPL as we sunk back to whence we came – the North West Counties League.

Chadwick was released and took up the managerial role at Atherton Collieries and the hugely experienced Steve Wilkes, who was all ready for a quieter life having resigned as Northwich Victoria manager, was tempted back into the game by club President and former player under Steve at Darwen, Phil Rose.

As with any change of manager, let alone two changes, the revolving door of players in and out certainly kept secretary Tony Cunningham a very busy man as the announcements of the new faces came at a pace.

A total of 72 players have set foot onto the playing surface in a Ramsbottom United shirt this year and maybe it is a positive thing that two local lads, who stuck with the club when swathes of others didn’t, sit atop the appearance records for the year.

Oscar Radcliffe played in 37 of the 42 league games while Owen Collinge started 26 and had four substitute appearances. Henri Ogunby, who left but came back again, has played 21 (plus six subs) and Matt Dudley and Maine Walder has 22 appearances to their names.

A player with only four starts but 20 entrances off the bench is Ryan Lockett – it was a shame to see him leave at the end of the year – but only 18 of the 72 players made 10 or more starts – certainly a sign of the difficulties the club had and 10 players only appeared once, either a single start or one off the bench.

It is probably very little surprise that the main goalscorers of the 2023 year have come since the end of July as our tail end of the relegation season saw us score only 14.

Kuda Chingwaro has been our leading goal scorer this year with 14 followed by Matthew Dudley’s 12 and Harvey Whyte with 6.  Jordan Scanlon hit 5 while Conal Gallagher found the net on 4 occasions in his six starts and nine sub showings for the club.

Maybe one of the reasons the Rams struggled so badly as they headed towards relegation was the plethora of goals that they conceded after the hour mark.  Not scoring very many didn’t really help either but they shipped nine in the 60-69 minute mark!

Our goals scored were so spread that we only scored two in the last quarter of the games but did get four just before half-time so our pie and peas and cup of tea at least tasted a little better!

Since the start of the new season, it is actually the Rams’ turn to be a second half dominant side.  We have scored 17 in the first 39 minutes but then go to town with seven in 50-59 minute second and nine in the 60-69 minutes.

And does it surprise anyone that our eight in that sector is matched by those scored in the 90th minute and beyond… eight of those too!

There has been no real pattern to the goals conceded, they are very well spread across the game.

The final numbers are the ones that are always the most sought after and that is who has faced the wrath of the match official the most.

Step forward Owen Collinge, who has seen the yellow card 11 times while Oscar Radcliffe has seen it nine times with one followed swiftly by a red.  Tom Walker, with just 18 total appearances has a 39% yellow card rate with 7 while Matthew Dudley has 6 to his name.

But we only endured three red cards – Radcliffe’s as mentioned earlier, Will Hall and the shocker for Ryan Hamer at Lower Breck.

So that was 2023.  Can we look forward to a positive 2024?  Ohhhh lets hope so!