by | Sep 5, 2023

It has been nearly 22 years since Ramsbottom United and Cheadle Town met in a league game so we have met before – but it is certainly quite a long time ago.

We were regular league opponents in the North West Counties League between 1995 and 2001 and seemingly had the wood over our Cheshire opponents, winning six of the 10 contests in Division 2 initially and then Division 1 before Cheadle would be relegated at the end of the 2000/01 campaign and, barring two back-to-back FA Cup meetings in 2009 and 2010, this is the first time our paths would have crossed since.

However, the name of Cheadle Town will forever be etched in the history of our club and our last league meeting came on 20 February 2001 in the NWCFL at The Riverside.  It would see something of a surprise, even shock, home defeat 2-1 to the side at the foot of the table.

It was what happened shortly after the full-time whistle that would shake our club to its very core – long standing and hugely successful manager Ken Bridge suffering a heart attack in the dressing room and passing away later that evening.

Chris Garside had opened the scoring for Cheadle, Wayne Briddon had equalised before Tony Coyne fired home a penalty late on to give the visitors the spoils but it was the aftermath that would hit the Rams hardest, leaving players, supporters and everyone involved in the club devastated.  Ken, who had been Rammy manager since 1995, was just 56 and left his wife Kath and daughter Gill.

Our first ever meeting would come in August 1995 when Phil Rose gave the Rams a share of the spoils at The Riverside but we would go down 2-0 at Park Road just three weeks later in NWCFL Division 2 but that wouldn’t be the last clash between the sides in our first ever season in the Counties … as we would collect our first silverware!

NWCFL Div 2 Trophy Final at Darwen FC (18/04/96)

Ramsbottom crowned their first season in the North West Counties’ League with a tremendous victory over Cheadle Town to win the Second Division Cup at The Anchor.

Though both sides began nervously, Ramsbottom steadied themselves to dominate the second half and fully deserved to win. It could have been more but for Martin Hulme being brought down in the 84th minute when clean through.

“This is fantastic for the club in our first season playing North West Counties football,” said a jubilant Ramsbottom secretary John Maher.

“We have worked hard all season and the manager, Ken Bridge, has done a terrific job.  Everyone associated with the club is ecstatic.  To win a trophy in your first season in a higher division is a marvellous achievement.”

Mel Burke set the wheels in motion in the 25th minute when he took advantage of confusion in the penalty area after a long throw from Neil Rhodes and fired home from close range.

On the stroke of half-time Cheadle grabbed an equaliser when Mark Henshaw converted from a corner kick that should have been cleared.

But in the second half Ramsbottom brought the wide men, Mark Keegan and Martin Hulme, into play and immediately assumed control.

In the 76th minute Phil Rose reacted quickest in the box to score the winner and send Ramsbottom fans into raptures.

After that, the Rams would go on an eight match unbeaten run, including a win in the FA Vase as the Blues would tally 22 goals to Cheadle’s 7 – but even though Town would suffer relegation at the end of the 2001 campaign, they would take a victory away from The Riverside on the way on that fateful night at The Riverside.

There have been two FA Cup meetings in consecutive seasons in 2009 and 2010 though and the Rams would win both.

In the Extra Preliminary Round, three goals in the first 11 minutes would effectively close the game out at the Riverside as Anthony Johnson’s brace and a single from Bernard Morley from the spot gave us a commanding lead.  Ben Roberts would pull one back on 21 minutes but it wouldn’t deny the Rams who saw Matt Ellis and Matt Edgington complete the scoring later in the second half.

And at Park Road 12 months later we ran out 3-1 winners in the Preliminary Round this time.  Mickey Saunders, Joel Pilkington and Jon Robinson would be enough to book our place in the next round despite Philip Clorley scoring a late consolation.

So it is a long awaited welcome back to our visitors from Cheadle Town today.