by | Dec 22, 2023

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling, you be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen, the festive season is upon once again and amidst all drinking, eating and general merriment we also have a festive fixture list to spoil ourselves with. I don’t know about you, but I do enjoy these games as much as any others during the season and with three fixtures between now and the new year, it’s an opportunity to get some much needed points on board to take us into 2024.

Many of us may have been hoping to have a fixture against our near neighbours from Bury on Boxing Day, but a short trip over Burnley way to take on Padiham is a pretty good substitute in my book. With a few decent pubs close by and Moorehouses on draught in the club house it should be a good one. So, that’s the off the pitch celebrations looking good and if we get the same result as our last competitive fixture at Padiham, a 4-1 win in 2014, there’ll be some happy Ultras making the journey back along the M56.

We also have the added bonus of a couple of games either side of Boxing Day with Squires Gate and Lower Breck visiting us at The Riverside.  Of course, Lower Breck have former Rams boss, Lee ‘Diego’ Donafee as part of their coaching team these days and although things didn’t work out under his tenure it will be warm welcome back to his old stomping ground for him.

With neither Squires Gate or Lower Breck challenging the top of the table this season Rammy supporters have to be hoping for a six point haul from these two home games. Mind you, were not exactly looking like an unstoppable force at the moment so we’ll be looking for a big push from the players. As always, it will be the warmest of Rammy welcomes to all who make the trip from Squires Gate and Lower Breck for these festive fixtures.

After four consecutive home games during November, the weather so far this month as been far from kind to us and let’s hope it doesn’t put the kibosh on out upcoming games. The FA Vase had us down to play Hallam down here at The HWRS, but the double whammy of freezing temperatures and then several days of rain saw the game called off on two consecutive Saturdays. This meant, due to FA rules concerning the competition, we had to switch the tie to Hallam and last Saturday saw us bound for Sheffield to try and settle the game.

Not great news for me as I was away visiting relatives, down in Norfolk, and was not due to travel back until the day of the game therefore missing a trip out on the good old Rammy Rocket. Relying on a combination of Twitter updates, and WhatsApp messages from travelling Ultras, to follow the game it looked like it was going to be, yet another, penalty shootout to decide the tie until, with a few minutes remaining, Hallam scored the goal that would end our Wembley dreams for this season. And let me tell you, refraining from effing and jeffing on an East Midlands Railways train is quite a difficult job under those circumstances.

With 2023 coming to an end, it’s time for a little reflection on the year and where The Rams stand going into 2024. Obviously, the exit from the FA Vase was disappointing to say the least, especially after progressing far enough to start dreaming realistically of Wembley, but really the league has to be imperative for clubs at any level of football.

After relegation from the NPL West last season, hopes were quite high, within the support base, that we would be challenging the play off places this season even with such a massive club as Bury in our league (they won the FA Cup in 1903 you know) So far, that hasn’t transpired and we find ourselves stuck in the mid table places and it has to be said that we are underachieving at the moment.

Admittedly, there’s not many points between the teams above us and we do have games in hand so there is still plenty to aim for going into the new year and plenty of room for optimism. As my old school reports used to say “Must do better”

(Disclaimer: This was written before our midweek trip to Irlam where an excellent performance, the best of the season in many travelling supporters opinion, saw us come away with a 3-0 win. Them’s the standards lads, keep that up and we’ll soon be climbing the league).

Merry Christmas, one and all, and Come On Yooouuuu Raaaams!