MATCH: Ramsbottom United v Marine
VENUE: Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, Ramsbottom
COMPETITION: The Pitching In Northern Premier League Division One West
DATE: Tuesday 17th August 2021
KICK-OFF: 7.45pm

You can pay on the gate – adults £9, concessions £5, children under 12 £1 (with a paying adult).

Match number two of the season but, at long last, the gates of the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium will swing open for a competitive fixture for the first time since 31 October 2020.

It has been a hugely tough time for everyone, football or otherwise, but for Ramsbottom United, the lack of football on the ground for over eight months and prior to that as well as put a serious dent into finances and infrastructure.

So to be able to finally welcome supporters back, for what is always a great occasion – Tuesday night under the lights – for the first time in a long time, we hope that the Rammy faithful will pour in to support our great club.

Our visitors are a club that had been on the lips of every football supporter, pundit, writer and much more back in the early part of the year when Premier League giants Tottenham Hotspur rolled into Crosby for a third round FA Cup tie.

And Marine equipped themselves magnificently, ultimately going down to defeat, but enjoying every single moment despite the huge disappointment of the game being forced to be played behind closed doors.

But while the doors were closed, the windows of the world were watching the Level 8 club go up against ‘The Special One’s’ charges.

A 3-1 win over Newcastle Town on the opening day of the season sees the Mariners atop the fledgling league table and they are many’s tip for the top, given the wonderful financial boost they were rewarded with during their epic cup run.

Today will certainly be a tough test for Lee Donafee’s charges, who played well in the 0-0 draw at City of Liverpool on Saturday and, had Joel Earps late chance hit the target, three points could have been ours.

That’s football – but a chance to return home, on our own patch against a good side should make for a great game on Tuesday night.

Godwin Abadaki made his debut for the Rams on Saturday. His brother, Osebi, appeared in 48 games for the Rams in 2014/15 season. He follows in a long line of brothers who have played for the Rams but they are the first to do so since the Brownhill’s in 2017/18. Other brotherly partnerships including the Morley’s, Brearley’s and the O’Shaughnessy’s.

There have been seven matches between the sides previously with both sides winning three – there was a 1-1 draw in the 2015/16 season
You can read all about our previous games with Marine by clicking on the “Have We Met” article on the RamsbottomUnited365 site – which is available here!

And while you are there, you can read the interview that we did with Jamie Rother about the last time we played Marine on 14 March 2020 – that being the final game of the curtailed 2019/20 season.

Who remembers that goal???

Manager Lee Donafee had mixed emotions about the game on Saturday, but knows that the challenge that Marine will pose is going to be a significant one.

“I don’t think we played that well in the first half but were better in the second,” he said. “We had an unbelievable chance late on to win the game but it didn’t happen so we will take a point, which I thought, on reflection of the game, was a fair result.

“They had a goal disallowed as well, it was all a bit confusing as the linesman didn’t put his flag up in the first place but the referee overruled him. It was the right call although it looked a mess.”

He was very pleased with the performance of debutants Owen Collinge and Will Hall – both products of the Ramsbottom United Development setup.

“Codge played really well, considering that was his first game at that level and he is only going to get better too. And Will Hall, outstanding. Two 19-year-olds playing in the back four and keeping a clean sheet was terrific and they ran their socks off for us.”

Looking forward to the Marine game, he has no new injuries to concern him but could have Jake Thompson back available after he returned from his holiday.

“He came back on Friday,” Lee added, “so we will see how he is but, I am not sure if I will make any changes.”

Asked about the prospect of playing Marine, Lee comfortably batted it away. “I think it is fair to say that we don’t know what is going to turn up. Marine had that great FA Cup run but we have to concentrate on us and what I need from my Ramsbottom United team.

“Ultimately it will be a tough game but I want us to play our game. We will get better again – people are saying that that was a great point away and that’s a positive but we will continue to develop and learn.

“The first five games of the season is about concentrating on us, what we are doing and how we are playing.”

Given the huge amount of upheaval that has come with Covid-19 and the lengthy break in football action, the very best person to speak to at this point is Chairman Harry Williams.

Harry has been Chairman of the club since its formation in 1966 but has never seen anything like that in all of those 55 years.

But now, with things returning to something of normality, he can’t wait to see the turnstiles rolling once more and the crowds getting back into the ground.

“Well, it was a good rest for me,” he said with a cheeky smile. “But it is good to be back playing again.

“It was disappointing that we didn’t get promotion, that was a bit of a kick in the teeth but it just wasn’t to be sadly.

“But the club has survived during the break. We don’t have players on contract so we didn’t have to find money to pay them and while we didn’t have any incoming finances, we didn’t have much going out either.

“So we have kept a tight ship and we are back sailing again now.”

The club have taken the precaution of maintaining the sanitiser stations and the signage still up. “The virus is still around and we have kept them in place just in case people want it.

“Things are back to normal as much as they can be but we still have to be sensible.”

The best news for supporters though is that the famous Ramsbottom United pie and peas will be back in full order for the game. “They are all ready, fresh out of the oven from the local bakers on Tuesday lunchtime.”

What more reason do you need to get yourself down to the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium on a Tuesday evening!!