Saturday 28th November 2009 is a date that is sadly etched in the memory of a great many Ramsbottom United supporters. Not because of the 2-1 victory at Alsager Town in the North West Counties but because of the news that broke the next morning.
During a night out in Manchester which followed that game and a celebratory birthday meal for his dad’s birthday, Rammy’s 25-year-old Matthew Edgington was callously and brutally attacked by three thugs outside of the Panacea nightclub as he tried to break up a fight whilst out with friends, leaving him in a pool of blood, in a coma and hospitalised under Salford Royal for some eight months all told.
The hugely talented winger had rejoined the club at the end of the 2008/09 season, having played for the club under Derek Egan in 2004/05 and then floating around the local non-league scene, to use Edgie’s own words “for a few extra cents”, before heading back to his home town club where his good friends Anthony Johnson and Bernard Morley were about to take charge.
Spells at Rossendale United, Clitheroe and Ashton United amongst others ensued but he headed back to the Riverside and was a regular in Bernard and Jonno’s first season, appearing in 22 of the 26 games up to the end of November and scoring eight goals, including a crucial double in the last 20 minutes in the 3-1 win over Padiham.
As today marked the 12th anniversary of that fateful day, we would like to reproduce the article that originally appeared on Ramsbottom365.co.uk where caught up with Matt to take a look back through his career with the club. With the help of his mum Pauline and dad John, who he was living with in Bury, we are delighted to be able to remember some of the good times of this sometimes mercurial, often cantankerous, but always exciting player in the Rammy blue.
Matt is now 37 and played a little bit of five and six-a-side football but the permanent brain damage has left him with tiredness, impaired vision and memory problems. However, the incredible work of the NHS has ensured that Matt is still alive – a thing that was touch and go for quite some time. And it was great to speak to him and reminisce of what he could recall.
We would like to thank Matt, Pauline and John for allowing us to do this. Some of the below has been embellished by the author with a few facts and numbers.
Name: Matthew Edgington
Appearances: 70 (27 as sub)
Yellow cards: 6
Red cards: 1
Seasons: 3 – 2004/05 to 2009/10
How did you come to join Ramsbottom United?
It goes back to the time before Derek Egan. I was training with Rammy under Andy Grimshaw in about 2002 before I went to Atherton Collieries for a while. I don’t think I fitted in that much at Rammy at the time but Bernard and Carl Lomax were at Colls so I went there. I then went to Curzon Ashton but when Derek got the Rammy job, he got me to come back as he ran the football park at Hopwood Hall College and I was on fire. He liked what he saw so I came back to Rammy. When Derek left, I went with him to Rossendale but I was always going to ‘come home’ eventually having gone around the clubs a bit and when Bernard and Jonno took over, it was the right time.
I think it has to be my hat-trick against Skelmersdale in the 3-3 draw, which wasn’t too bad for a winger! I was in good goal scoring form that season and scored 13 – the third highest for the club that year. From what I can remember, the first goal, we were shooting towards the train tracks and the ball was put through and I hit it from just outside the box. The third one I swung it around a couple of defenders for the hat-trick. It was pretty much just shoot on sight!
I can remember a couple of games that stick out. One was against Bacup when they had the old Bolton goalkeeper David Felgate in goal and a defender called Ian Hughes, who played for Bury and Blackpool. We smashed them 4-0 and I scored. It was great to score against a well-known keeper like that. The other game was the 2-1 win away at Fleetwood, where I scored the winning goal late on and it all kicked off afterwards and at half-time as well. Loads of players got involved in the scrap – it was all the old familiar faces!
Best player you played with?
Bernard, without any question. He is the best player I have ever played with. I played at Bury with him and I just knew that he was my defence. If I was going forward, he was always going to mop things up for me behind. I played with Gaz Stopforth at New Orleans and at Rossendale. Macca (Chris Mackay, who is his brother-in-law) was a good very player technically – but he had no pace! Matty Raywood was a really good full back, he would play right back behind me. John Blackley was in the same year at school as me and I never really played that much with him but he was a decent player, as were Rick Winstanley and Chris Denham. And Adam Cook, a great winger, really quick.
Player to avoid on the pitch?
Bernard! I’d avoid him now. If Bernard was angry, you knew you are going to get it. And Carl Lomax – just because, I can say it now, but he is just a madman (Edgie didn’t actually say madman……)
Probably some of the crap that I used to come out with! I can’t seem to recall many times when I was in a Rammy dressing room when it was full of laughter but I am sure there were times. Playing alongside Macca was always good though. And there was the end of season trip that I was invited to go to in 2010 to Newquay. I wasn’t that long out of hospital but the lads wanted me to come. I wasn’t allowed to drink but it was a really good trip although sharing a room with Macca, Dad, Chris Woolly, Jono, Lee Connell and Dom Smalley was interesting! But it was great to be involved – just annoying that I couldn’t have a drink.
John finished the conversation, in the background with Matt on the phone, by saying that he was overwhelmed by the support the club showed to his son during that awful time in late 2009. The whole team visited the hospital on the Sunday and players came back time and again to see him. Derek Egan was the first person Matt spoke to when he woke up from his coma and he and his wife and daughter came to the intensive care unit on Christmas Day, where they brought a hamper for the family.
Matt obviously doesn’t remember very much of those times but the club rallied around their player, friend and colleague to support him and the family. And it has never been forgotten.
Edgie is now as well as he can be, a passionate Manchester United supporter and prolific with his views on Facebook. He is still the same Edgie, but not the same Edgie that had his burgeoning non-league football career ahead of him at 25 years old.
But he is still with us – and that is a blessing.