by | Sep 15, 2023

There is a little bit of déjà vu when it comes to this latest edition of “Have We Met?” in that we haven’t played Irlam in league competition since the Manchester League days and… well, they weren’t even called Irlam!

We did meet in the FA Cup at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium in September 2020 when 306 football starved supporters came for the Preliminary Round contest that the Rams ran out 4-1 victors with a remarkable four strikes within 14 minutes in the second half.

The Rams found themselves a goal down when Connor Martin hit home for the Siver Streeters on nine minutes and held onto that advantage well into the second half, sensing a bit of a shock result on the cards.

Step forward Mason Fawns, Jake Thompson, Tom Kennedy and Daniel O’Brien.

Fawns hit home on the 55th minute before the Rams finally got ahead when Thompson was on hand to slot home in the 62nd minute. Four minutes later, the Rams were awarded a penalty which skipper Tom Kennedy gratefully hammered home and then O’Brien made it four on 69 and the hosts sailed into the next round … eventually!

Barring a couple of pre-season friendlies, these two sides have not met otherwise since the Manchester League days 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 Gilgryst 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.

You see.. déjà vu!  No league meetings since Manchester League days and played in the Gilgryst Cup in that season – exactly like our last opponents in Prestwich Heys.  Let’s hope for the Rams sake the result is different!!