It is time to park the league fixtures for a couple of days and focus ourselves on a challenge in the Emirates FA Cup, which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this season.

The Rams only joined the FA Cup party in September 1998, getting past Maine Road, Shildon and Billingham Town to reach the third qualifying round before bowing out to Southport 5-0 – it was quite some run in our first attempt.

But now we turn our attention to Saturday’s fixture with Barnoldswick Town in the Preliminary Round of this season’s competition.

Our history with Barlick is fairly short but a look at the Ramsbottom United history will notice that they feature fairly prominently – mainly as our primary competitors to the North West Counties League Premier Division title in the 2011/12 season.

It was nip and tuck all the way through that incredible season and meant that Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley’s side had to pull out all the stops – which they did with a tally of 37 points from the last available 39, only a draw at Bootle the dropped points.

That run included a thrilling 2-0 win at the Silentnight Stadium thanks to Jon Robinson’s double either side of the half-time break in front of 317 enthralled spectators.

The 2-0 win was actually the third meeting that campaign as we had played in the FA Cup Extra-Preliminary Round exactly 10 years ago yesterday, 20th August 2011. And it was Robinson once again that did the damage, scoring twice in the first half to seal a 2-0 success. Our FA Cup passage then befell Salford City 2-1 on a memorable Friday night with the trophy in attendance before we dropped to a 2-1 loss at home to Nantwich Town a couple of weeks later.

The home league game on 4 October 2011 was described in the match report as a ‘nervy win’ but lead to reporter Tony Cunningham to state “A fine game, played in the right spirit will have lifted everyone at the Riverside. On the evidence of this match, it’s quite likely that both these teams will have a say in the title race, as this proved an excellent advert for North West Counties league football.” He wasn’t wrong!

Robinson – seemingly who else – opened the scoring after just nine minutes and the Rams held that lead until the 65th when Spencer Jordan tapped home from close range and then, a moment of controversy when the visitors were awarded a penalty on 75 minutes. With the ball bouncing harmlessly out of play, the referee adjudged that Shane Birtles had pushed Airdrie as they were both chasing the lost cause. Despite the vehement protests, Paul Fildes calmly took his chance to give the visitors the lead.

The Rams hit back with Dominic Smalley being upended in the box with ten minutes left and Mark Drew hammered home the spot kick and then Andy Dawson was at the far post to crack home a header to send the crowd into raptures. A brilliant game which the Rams took 3-2 in the end.

That season went right down to the final game but the Rams’ 5-1 beating of Winsford United was enough for us to lift the title.

The only other season together in the leagues was the 2010/11 year when the Rams finished second and Barnoldswick seventh. A 1-0 win at the Riverside opened the season with Joel Pilkington scoring after 41 minutes but the reverse fixture gave Barnoldswick their only win over the Rams to date – winning 2-1 with Liam Garbutt and Aaron Hollindrake’s 88th minute strike giving them the win despite Mark Drew’s penalty 12 minutes from time.

We did meet in a pre-season game back in August 2020 with the Rams win 5-4.. anything similar to that would be a highly entertaining this weekend. Not sure many tickers would last an FA Cup game of that magnitude though!

With this being an FA Cup game and it celebrating it’s 150th anniversary, you might like a very good read all about the competition and its history going back to 1871-72 when Wanderers beat Royal Engineers 1-0 at the Kennington Oval in front of 2,000 spectators all the way to Leicester City’s 1-0 win over Chelsea at Wembley in front of just 20,000 (the lowest crowd at an FA Cup final since 1888).

Phil Annet’s superb tome is just the ticket. You can also read about the the 44 different winners, including of course, Bury twice in 1900 and 1903 – beating Southampton (booo) 4-0 and Derby County 6-0 in the process and so much more inbetween. It is a terrific read and a must for any keen football supporter.

It is available in many places… the best place is here –