Just 20 miles separate Ramsbottom and Clitheroe, up the A56 and A59. For two teams that close together, both in east Lancashire, both progressed through the North West Counties League and now the Northern Premier League, meetings have been very regular.

In fact, since 1997, there has been 32 games with the Rams winning 10, Clitheroe 16 and there have been 6 draws. Our visitors lead the goal tally 64-49.

So, let’s have a little look back at some of the highlights of this 24-year connection with our near neighbours.

Saturday will be the first time that Clitheroe have been to the HWRS for two years as the match in the second null-and-void seasons was at Shawbridge and we made our way up there in October 2019 before the world went crazy!

Goals from Danny Wilkins, Kielen Adams and Terry Cummings cancelled out Tony Donaldson’s pre-half-time effort in October 2020. Nic Evangelinos’ strike sandwiched goals from Jacob Gregory and Charlie Mulgrew in October 2019 to give the home side two victories twelve months apart.

However, the earlier fixture in that 2019/20 season went the way of the Rams as Evangelinos and Anointed Chukwu scored second half goals to give us a comfortable 2-0 win.

You have to go back to 21 February 2017 to find the last time that Clitheroe won on Rammy soil, in the middle of a bizarre run of five games where one side or the other scored four games in a game!

In a cracking game, the Rams kept coming from behind after Ryan Salmon had given us an early lead but Luke Wall twice and Kurt Willoughby put the visitors ahead. Paul Linwood and Gareth Seddon brought the scores back level only for Willoughby to strike nine minutes from time to take the points.

That is Clitheroe’s only win at the HWRS since the eight year gap in proceedings from 2004-2012 and we clashed swords once again in the NPL. Seven games on our home patch, four wins, two draws and that solitary defeat.

Going back to that remarkable goal scoring, which saw a total of 29 goals scored in five games, the Rams won 4-1 in November 2013 (two for Jon Robinson and one each for Grant Spencer and Lee Gaskell) and then followed it up in November 2014 with a 4-2 win at Shawbridge with a brace for Chris Denham and one each for Billy Priestley and Grant Spencer with Matthew McNamara and Paul Coote on the scoresheet for the hosts.

It was roles reversed in August 2016 when Clitheroe ran out comfortable 4-0 winners and then completed a double of 4-3 wins – the first the one mentioned above and the second, in September 2017 when Willoughby scored a hat-trick for the home side, who scored three in the space of 15 late second half minutes to take the win.

So many goals – there has only been one 0-0 draw in the head-to-head history and that was in April 2002.

One of the reasons why the record is so tilted towards Clitheroe is that, in the NWCFL days from 1997 to 2004, we met 18 times and only won three of them and one of the defeats was a 7-1 horror!

Anyway, that’s the history of the fixture and we look forward to welcoming Billy Priestley and his team – many of whom will be familiar faces at the HWRS as is Billy … who we have ‘partied with’ on many occasions when he scored!!!

Enjoy the game as always.