by | Aug 11, 2023

It has been just the small matter of 3,633 days since Ramsbottom United last faced AFC Liverpool in a competitive game but, once again, the one and only league season is somewhat etched in our history.

Let’s start at the beginning and a Saturday afternoon at The Riverside at the back end of January 2012 when the recently formed Liverpool side came to town looking for the scalp of the title chasing Rams.

It wasn’t to be though as, on a bright winter’s afternoon, the Rams produced a third 3-1 victory in a row, a result which took us back to the top of the NWCFL Premier Division table.

As early as the 15th minute, Jordan Hulme beat the diving keeper Bimpson, rounded him and superbly slid the ball into the net from the tightest of angles to give the Rams the lead and it was a lead that the Rams looked like they would extend heavily in the first half but for some resilient defending from the visitors.

So it was against the run of play that AFC Liverpool equalised with their first real chance of the half on 38 minutes when, from a corner, Sinnott beat the home defence at the 21st birthday celebrating goalkeeper Grant Shenton with a header.

The second half was much the same as the Rams peppered Bimpton’s goal and he was finally broken on 55 minutes when Lee Gaskell lashed home an unstoppable volley from the edge of the box.

The Rams sealed the points on 68 minutes. Dominic Smalley raced down the right before sending over a high cross to the far post. Hulme nodded it back across goal to find Gaskell, whose clever flick created space for him to turn and fire home his side’s third to seal a crucial three points.

However, the return game at Prescot Cables’ Valerie Park at the end of February – 29th February to be exact. After losing 2-1 to Runcorn Town and drawing 1-1 away to Bootle, the Rams faltered once more on Merseyside, going down 2-1 to end a miserable February (pictured).

The fact that AFC Liverpool are etched in the Rammy history is that co-manager Johnson and Morley sat in the Cables clubhouse with Chairman Harry Williams and Accrington Stanley’s saviour and good friend of the club Eric Whalley until gone 11pm after that game.

In an interview with Rammy365, Johnson admitted, “anyone who knows me knows what I am like after a defeat but dropping to second in the table, I was pretty down. We were talking for so long that the bar staff kicked us out as they wanted to go home!”

The Rams dominiated the possession on that evening but it was the home side that took their chances, the first coming after just five minutes when Joe Lawless headed the ball over a stranded Shenton and in under the bar.

And on 21 minutes, after a goalmouth scramble at the Rams’ end, AFC Liverpool broke to the other end and made it 2-0 with a terrific strike from Steve Jones.

This sparked a revival in the visitors but, try as they might and up against ten men for 43 minutes of the second half, Gary Stopforth expertly converted a free-kick from the edge of the box.

Attempt after attempt kept coming, even Shenton forayed upfield as a succession of corners came late on but the Rams headed home with nothing but a sinking feeling as they tumbled behind Bootle at the summit.

Those long and late discussions obviously did the trick as the Rams collecting 37 points from the remaining 39 available to win the NWCFL Premier Division title that season.

The last meeting between the sides came in the FA Cup Preliminary Round on 31 August 2013 and it was a much needed break away from a very difficult start to our second season in the NPL, losing four in four at the start of the 2013/14 campaign.

But a high-flying AFC Liverpool side came and were thrashed 5-0 which built some much needed confidence around the camp and the visitors did well to keep it to a single goal as a blue shirted wave attack on the goal was thwarted until just before the break, Smalley’s through ball found Phil Dean and he stroked the ball home to give the Rams a two goal interval cushion.

More smart play from Gaskell just five minutes into the second half closed the game out. He collected the ball in the box, turned and fired a low drive into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

There was two late goals. On 78 minutes, the ball broke for the industrious Tom Brooks, and he rounded the keeper before sliding home the fourth, then four minutes from time, young substitute Luke Bradbury scored his first goal for the club when he stabbed home a cross from Dean who made the most of a threaded pass from Gaskell and into the next round the Rams headed.

Just three games of history but much to remember as we welcome back old friends from the west and look forward to crossing swords once more, this time at Marine.