MATCH: Clitheroe v Ramsbottom United
VENUE: Shawbridge, Pendle Road, Clitheroe, BB7 1LZ
COMPETITION: Northern Premier League West Division
DATE: Saturday 23rd April 2022
DISTANCE FROM RAMMY: 20 miles
You can pay on the gate – adults £8, concessions £5, ages 14-17 £3, unaccompanied Under 14s £2, FREE U14 with an adult.
Roch Valley Radio will be providing live commentary of the game from 2pm, with Matthew Holmes and Ramsbottom United legend John Blackley covering the game.
Listen live here: https://www.rochvalleyradio.com/
Are we actually safe from the relegation play-off spot? Unofficially and mathematically, no. Realistically and using the convoluted Points Per Game system in place for deciding who is actually going to be in that play-off game, then we have probably done enough. But, shall we just make absolutely sure… one point will ensure that.
The Rams head up the A56 to our old friends and local rivals Clitheroe, a side running into the end of the season with just one defeat from their last 10 games but their chances of reaching the play-offs out of reach.
But it could be an emotional day for the Rams as it will see the end of the magnificent career of captain Tom Kennedy, who announced his retirement from the game last week. His team mates will be sad to see him go but there are a great number in the opposition who will be full of admiration, probably none more so than former Ram and now Clitheroe defender Richie Baker.
For Kennedy was playing in Baker’s first ever professional game, Bury’s 3-0 League Two defeat to Wycombe Wanderers on 19 August 2006. It was only for six minutes – Baker replacing Brian Barry-Murphy on 68 minutes before Chris Brass came on for Kennedy on 74 – but they will on the pitch together for TK’s final hurrah. “I’m buzzing and proud to be sharing the pitch for his last ever game,” said Richie following Tom’s announcement. “He played in my first ever professional game and I’m going to play in his last ever game. It will be a massive privilege for me as he is an absolute legend and a top man.”
Of course, there won’t be any favours made despite their being nothing absolutely riding on this game. Clitheroe’s home record is impressive with 12 wins from 18 games while the Rams’ away record this season of two wins and just 11 goals is – sad to say – the worst in our semi-professional history.
So everything is pointing towards a comfortable home win for Billy Priestley’s men, a side certainly not unfamiliar to Rammy followers containing skipper Sefton Gonzales, keeper Chris Thompson, Baker, Priestley and Danny Wilkins.
It was probably like that when the Blues rocked up at the HWRS back in February but left with a 3-0 defeat thanks to a brace from John Murphy and a third for Domaine Rouse. It was after that game that they went on to lose just one of the next 10 and are currently sitting top of the ‘form table’. But it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Rams are unbeaten in their last four games either.
Kick-off is at 3pm and a large crowd for the final game of the season is expected. Parking in and around the ground is not easy so it will be worth getting there early to ensure you aren’t parked nearer to Rammy than Clitheroe!
And, of course, it would be great to see a huge following from Rammy too – if only to send TK off into retirement in style.
LEAGUE FORM GUIDE (most recent game first):
Ramsbottom United: D D W D L L
Clitheroe: D W W W W W
You can read all about the history between the Rams and Clitheroe in our comprehensive “Have We Met” article, which is below – written earlier in the season.
Manager Lee Donafee is looking forward to the final game of the season but knows that the hosts might just have revenge on their mind.
“We go to Clitheroe in thee final game of the season to face a side that has been in fine form and unlucky not to make the playoffs.
“We know it will be very tough in a game that they will also be looking to win and make amends for the amends from the reverse fixture.
“The lads have been resolute of late and I will be looking for a dogged performance once again tomorrow as we look to end the season on a positive with three points.”
The season has taken its toll on the players with a plethora of injuries decimating the squad and another couple have joined the list since Monday’s game too – even to the point that goalkeeping coach Martin Campbell was named on the bench as cover, appearing on a Rammy team sheet for the first time since 28 September 2010, a 3-3 LFA Trophy draw with Holker Old Boys (which the Rams won 5-4 on penalties).
“We have been depleted by injuries over the last month so its not been easy. Billy and Aiden are definitely out and Godwin is still playing despite his injury.
“But we will give it our best and hopefully send TK into retirement with three points too.”