Time for a spot of nostalgia now with the first of some irregular articles looking back at past away days for the supporters of Ramsbottom United. Not so much match reports but focussing on the beers, cheers and tears of being a Rammy Ultra.
Kicking off with a trip back to October 2016 as The Rams travelled over to Bridlington to take on Scarborough. This was our first season back in the NPL Division 1 North following relegation the previous season and came a few days after a memorable midweek victory at Colne to give us our first away points of that season.
The Rammy Ultras do like a nice little away day by the seaside so it was no surprise that the trip to take on Scarborough saw a full Rammy Rocket winding its merry way up to the east Yorkshire coast. Amongst the usual suspects we had a Rocket virgin on board in the shape of Mark ‘Nuggets’ McCann, neglecting family duties for the day, and even had Andy ‘Trigger’ Brown for his first trip in a couple of years. To celebrate this, ‘Coach Driver Dave’ turned up 15 minutes late, but before long we were driving away from the ground for a hugely anticipated away day.
Our actual destination was not Scarborough, but Bridlington where the ex-football league club played their home games which was fine by myself and Mrs Darkside as we had never visited this little part of the British coastline (although so impressed were we that we have been back several times since). Once we got off the M62 it was quite a long journey through plenty of winding countryside roads although this gave us plenty of time to tuck into Andy ‘Rammy Blue’ Worsick’s homemade flapjacks and wash them down with a beer or two. And very much to our surprise we still haven’t seen Mr Worsick make an appearance on The Great British Bake Off in the years since then.
We finally arrived at the ground around 1pm and while the players went off to prepare for the game we headed off for the short walk, past the funfair and down to the seafront. We found a rough little boozer called The Harbour Tavern but at £2.00 a pint we weren’t bothered about that in the slightest. We were soon joined by the Derbyshire Ultras, Tanners Croft and Yorkshire Lara, who had travelled up from The Peak District, via train, and we were soon knocking back a few pints of good old seaside ale. We got chatting with a Tadcaster Albion supporter, embarrassingly wearing the same colour Harrington Jacket as me, and we had a discussion of the best places to go for some Samuel Smiths when we visit them later in the season. Groundwork completed and at 2.30pm we gathered on the harbour for a group photo with the Ultras flag before making the short walk back to the ground.
We got in the ground with a few minutes to spare before welcoming the players onto the pitch and waiting to see which way we would be kicking before deciding at what end we would be standing for the first half. As it turned out we would be kicking towards the far end/funfair end so as the Rammy supporters made their way round I took the opportunity to grab a pint from the social club before settling in to watch the game. This turned out to be something of a mistake and coming out of the club I was greeted by, a somewhat happy, Mark McCann and Garfunkel who informed me that we were already a goal to the good, thanks to an exquisite free kick from our very own prodigal Son, Grant Spencer. As Homer Simpson would say… Doh!!!!
However, I didn’t have to wait long to see another goal as the, rather impressive I must say, Scarborough number nine broke away a few minutes later to equalise for our hosts. It turned out to be an exciting first half despite no more goals with both teams creating a number of chances and playing some decent football. The days of playing the long ball and cloggers in every position seem to be well gone in the non-league game these days and long may that continue, boys and girls. During the first half we were stood on a rather splendid little terrace which seemed to be conducive to making plenty of noise and the Ultras took full advantage by going through several of the songs in our repertoire and which the players seemed to respond to.
One of the things that never change in non-league football is the fact that you always get a few grumpy old boys at the game and the Scarborough Curmudgeons gave us a few laughs during the first half. The focus of their derision was Gareth Seddon, or Sneddon according to them, as at the time his profile has risen due to the ‘Class Of 92’, Salford City love-fest had recently aired on the BBC. He might be a ‘nancy boy’ to our opponents but to us he will always be ‘The Last Of The Famous International Playboys’ (a reference for all you Morrissey fans out there).
Come the half time whistle food was needed, if only to line the stomach for a few more pints, so we made our way to the food hut where the price list informed us we could get a pie or a burger for £3.50. Now, although that wouldn’t exactly break the bank, I really don’t like being ripped off at the football so Mrs Darkside kindly offered, well was cajoled into going to the chippy across the road. What a good decision that turned out to be as the chips and (Irish !!!) curry sauce turned out to be the best I had tasted in a long time and was duly rewarded in my end of season food awards for 2016-17.
Despite an excellent effort by The Rams in a hugely enjoyable second half we eventually went down 3-2, although we were at least able to celebrate a much deserved first Rammy goal by Ryan Salmon who was fast becoming something of a cult hero at The Riverside. A defeat but a massive improvement on some of the away games we had to endure that season so the Rammy Rocket was in pretty good spirits on the journey home.
Spirits were raised even further after a quick supermarket stop, especially as the clubs physio Matt Booth had bought a crate of beers which he duly handed out to the Ultras throughout the trip back into Lancashire. With the beers flowing nicely the players took to the microphone on the way home to serenade us as they went through the initiation process on our little away days. Gaz ‘American Pie’ Seddon and Damian ‘X-Factor’ Green were particular stand outs and as we made our back home we were left in no doubt that the spirit of the Rammy Ultras was very much alive and kicking.
Article by Daz Darkside