Kidsgrove. A small Staffordshire town close to Newcastle-under-Lyme. A town where former England footballer Mark Bright and Lancashire and England cricketing legend Ken Higgs were born.

Quiet. Unassuming. Nestled on the border of Cheshire and Staffordshire, not far from Stoke-on-Trent, Alsager and the M6… it even has its own ski centre!

But raise the name of Kidsgrove Athletic Football Club around our little part of East Lancashire and it strikes fear and dread into the hearts of Ramsbottom United.

We met in the North West Counties League from 1997 to 2002 and then, after a 16 year hiatus, resumed in 2018 with a couple of FA Cup preliminary round clashes before playing in the NPL 1 West in 2018/19 … before we were split up again!

14 matches there has been between Ramsbottom United and Kidsgrove Athletic and we have won the sum total of ….. two! There has been six draws and six defeats – even one of the draws would see us sunk on a penalty shootout.

The Rams have not got a worse win percentage against any other side in our semi-professional history with more games than Kidsgrove Athletic, winning just 14.3% of our 14 games against them (we have win% of 9.1 against New Mills from 11 games and 0% in 10 games against Vauxhall Motors!)

And when it comes to matches at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium (or The Riverside back in the day) – we’ve never won! Seven games, three draws and four defeats (or two and five if you class the penalty shootout as a loss!) … our worst record against anyone!

Let’s try and find some positives! The last five games between the sides are 1-0 to the Rams with four draws (bank this one on your coupon!).

Our rare win came at the Novus Stadium when two goals from Jamie Rainford within five minutes of each other – on 32 and 36 minutes – gave us a 2-0 away win and there was a 2-2 draw at the HWRS in April 2019 when Eddie Cooper and Jamie Rother put us 2-0 up at the break, only for Lee Williamson and a late equaliser from Anthony Malbon in the 90th minute would ensure their unbeaten Rammy record was maintained.

The Rams’ only other victory came in September 1999 when Russ Brierley scored twice and Danny Goodall and Jamie Ramplin added singles in a thumping 4-0 success on the road.

Kidsgrove won the NWCFL Division One in 2001/02, five points clear of Prescot Cables and Salford City. They would take a 5-3 win away from the Riverside that season in November 2001. Walters, Dicken, Mitchell, Robertson and Dicken for the fifth scored for Kidsgrove when Steve Orrell, David Yorke-Robinson and Stephen Sheils gave the Rams some hope – a good effort consider we went down to 10 men before half-time. And there was a 1-1 draw at Easter in 2002 with Brad Franks scoring the Rams’ goal.

It’s funny how things transpire, isn’t it? Third place in that table, 20 years ago, were Salford City – now playing in League Two. In fourth place, only just behind, were St Helens Town – now plying their trade in NWCFL Division One North and 13 points adrift of Daisy Hill without a win from 18 games and with a goal difference of minus 50.

Anyway, that’s the history of this fixture … not that great reading for the Rammy faithful but records are there to be altered, amended, changed and reformed. Let’s welcome Kidsgrove Athletic to the HWRS for this fixture … but can we brick the gates up so they don’t take the points away!!