It probably comes as a surprise that Saturday’s game will be the first ever competitive meeting between Ramsbottom United and Irlam so it is a warm welcome to the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium for the side from Silver Street for this FA Cup encounter.

Irlam came into the North West Counties League in 2008/09 season and sat in Division One whilst the Rams were in the Premier Division. They secured promotion out of Division One in 2015/16.

However, our paths have crossed when Irlam were known as Mitchell Shackleton, who were formed in 1969 by a group of employees working for the well established engineering company based in Eccles, which manufactured marine and diesel crankshafts.

The early record of our time in the Manchester League are still to be discovered but, in our final year in the Manchester League, we would play Mitchell Shackleton in the Premier Division.

A 1-1 draw at the Riverside on 23 August 1994 was followed by a 2-1 victory at Salteye Park – their home ground at Barton. This ground was sold in 2002 and subsequently became the home ground of Salford Red Devils rugby league club and Sale rugby union after much development. This match, on 18 February 1995, was our first game for a month after the home game with Monton Amateurs and we wouldn’t play again until 18th March when we beat East Manchester 8-1!

To pick up four points against them was quite an achievement as they finished second in the Manchester Premier behind another club we became very familiar with, Abbey Hey.

Our final encounter with MSFC came on 1 April 1995 in the semi-final of the Gylchryst Cup, the Manchester League’s knockout competition. We would win that game 2-1 and go on to win the Cup after defeating Prestwich Heys 3-2 after extra time at the Riverside a month later.