What a horrible campaign, and it’s hard to argue that the Rams deserved anything other than relegation.
Yet all began in August full of hope as Lee Donafee had put together a remodelled squad which was hoped would push for a promotion spot.
Alas it did not take long for those hopes to be dashed.
In the FA Cup the team conceded a very late equaliser at Thackley, and despite winning the replay, the replay of the next round saw a thrilling game at City of Liverpool, where the Rams scored an injury time equaliser and still lost!
In the FA Trophy, having beaten Glossop North End, the club went out at the second time of asking to a heavy home defeat against Clitheroe.
So, all that was left was the League.
After a single point from the first three games, the first three-pointer was gained at home to Mossley, but any thoughts that the corner had been turned were rudely shattered as a single point away at 1874 Northwich, secured with a late equaliser, was followed by two heavy home defeats against Workington and Macclesfield.
A couple of 2-1 victories at home to Prescot Cables and away at Bootle suddenly had the fans thinking better times were ahead. Not so. A 5-3 home hammering by Skelmersdale United was followed by two dreadful away performances at Witton Albion and Widnes, sandwiched by another defeat at home to Kidsgrove.
The rot was temporarily halted by a 2-0 win at Newcastle Town, but two home defeats and another hammering at the hands of champions-elect Macclesfield cast a rather gloomy cloud over the HWRS. The league table had a worrying look about it as the team slipped further down the ratings.
Then a ray of seasonal light, as Trafford were dispatched at home thanks to a late winner, and the new year beckoned with a certain amount of optimism.
Oh how that was badly placed!
It then took over three months, a change of management and a multitude of players coming and going before the Rams were to gain their next three-pointer.
A missed penalty during a narrow 0-1 defeat at Mossley started 2023 in the manner to which the supporters were to become accustomed.
Defeat after defeat followed, with an occasional draw to lighten the mood, but it was after an unexpected one-pointer away at Workington, that Lee Donafee finally made an exit, swiftly followed by many members of the squad, especially from Lee’s Merseyside contingent.
In came new boss and former assistant manager at FC United of Manchester, David Chadwick. Little did he realise the size of the task in hand!
With so many departures, it was a case of bringing in who would be willing to fight a relegation battle, and quite a few turned their backs on such a prospect.
Some newcomers did have the gumption, and along with a number of loan signings and members of the club’s Junior set-up, a new-look team began to emerge.
Performances and effort appeared to improve, yet results did not reflect the change.
From the first seven games, just a single point was gained at home to Widnes, although of the six defeats, five were frustratingly by the odd goal.
At last, the first win in fourteen weeks finally came at home to 1874 Northwich, but by then relegation had been confirmed.
Alas, it was a return to form with three defeats following that victory, and whilst the team could consider themselves unlucky against Leek Town at home and Trafford away, where again defeat was by the narrowest of margins, a woeful performance at Runcorn Linnets brought back bad memories of early season capitulations.
A last day home victory (and double) over Newcastle Town at least bade farewell to the season by ensuring that the club’s record of the lowest points tally would not need to be adjusted, but 27 points from 38 games told the tale of a woeful campaign.
David Chadwick’s brief reign also came to an end as the club decided that experience would be the best chance of quickly regaining their NPL status, and as such, Steve Wilkes was drafted in as the new manager ahead of what will be a busy closed season.
The focus at Ramsbottom United will now be on a very much improved campaign come August and hopefully a challenge to regain that precious step four position.