The Northern Premier League have announced the allocations for the 2021/22 season and the Rams have been placed in the NPL West Division.
The league pyramid at Step 4 has been split into three leagues – NPL East, NPL Midlands and, in Rammy’s case, NPL West – which has come as something of a relief as some reports had included us in the NPL East.
These revamped divisions has allowed 20 new clubs join the NPL for next season including some old friends and some new.
So, let’s have a look and see who Chris Willcock’s side will be up against when the league recommences in August (hopefully!).
1874 NORTHWICH – Promoted from NWCFL Premier Division
Distance from Rammy: 39.4 miles
Our record: Never met before
1874 were only formed in 2012 but their rise through the NWCFL has been remarkable! Set up by supporters of the soon-to-be-bankrupted Northwich Victoria, they currently ground share with another Counties league side Barnton after sharing with Winsford United for a number of years.
They are co-managed by former Ramsbottom assistant Wayne Goodison and finished second in the NWCFL Premier Division last season.
BOOTLE – Promoted from NWCFL Premier Division
Distance from Rammy: 47.7 miles
Our record: Played 11, Won 5, Drawn 3, Lost 3, Goals 21, Against 17
Last meeting: 3 April 2012 at The Riverside (1-1) in NWCFL Premier
It has been nine years since the Rams and Bootle met – in the memorable run of 2011/12, it was only the draw at Bootle the prevented the Rams from having a perfect 13 from 13 record!
The Merseysiders have been there and thereabouts at the top of the NWCFL, finishing runners-up in 2017 and 2019 but three wins from three at the start of the curtailed 2020/21 season has seen the Bucks join us once again.
CITY OF LIVERPOOL – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 51.3 miles (Ellesmere Port)
Our record: Played 2, Won 2, Goals 10, Against 2
Last meeting: 11 January 2020 at Vesty Road (W 5-2) in NPL NW Division
We will once again cross swords with the Purps, having missed out on the chance in the curtailed 2020/21 season. It is thought they will be playing in Ellesmere Port next season having had their ground sharing with Bootle ended.
CLITHEROE – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 19.7 miles
Our record: Played 32, Won 10, Drawn 6, Lost 16, Goals 49, Against 64
Last meeting: 13 October 2020 at Shawbridge (L 1-3) in NPL NW
Our local derby will come again against our friends from Shawbridge, who have won the last two clashes in October 2019 and October 2020.
COLNE – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 20.5 miles
Our record: Played 29, Won 14, Drawn 1, Lost 14, Goals 45, Against 44
Last meeting: 12 October 2019 at HWRS (L 1-3) in FA Trophy Prelim
Incredible, we have not met Colne in the league for two seasons – the last league games was in February 2019 when we went down 1-3 at home (Richie Baker scoring for the visitors!). Our history with old foes Colne does all the way back to the 1996/97 season in the NWCFL Division 2 – but our recent record against them isn’t good – have lost the last 6 with an aggregate of 2-15 … time to put that right!
GLOSSOP NORTH END – NPL South East Division
Distance from Rammy: 27.1 miles
Our record: Played 36, Won 16, Drawn 8, Lost 12, Goals 66, Against 52
Last meeting: 19 January 2019 at Surrey Street (W 5-0) in NPL 1 West
How good is it to have old friends Glossop North End back in the same division as us! We go a long way back – to 1997 in fact – and we have had some great games with the Hillmen over the years. Always a great place to go to, it has been a while coming to have GNE back in the ‘West’ group!
KENDAL TOWN – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 64.3 miles
Our record: Played 10, Won 6, Drawn 2, Lost 2, Goals 19, Against 12
Last meeting: 20 October 2020 at HWRS (2-2) in NPL North West Division
Now our second longest away day, Cumbrians Kendal Town naturally join the West group. We are unbeaten in the last five games with the Mintcakes and unbeaten in our five games played at home … we were due to play Kendal in March 2020 on a Tuesday night before the world changed.
KIDSGROVE ATHLETIC – NPL South East Division
Distance from Rammy: 58.2 miles
Our record: Played 14, Won 2, Drawn 6, Lost 6, Goals 16, Against 22
Last meeting: 27 April 2019 at HWRS (2-2) in NPL 1 West
Oh no, not Kidsgrove Athletic!!! A club with the India sign over us, who we have never beaten at home in seven attempts and just one win nine attempts in the 2000s! They rejoin us in the west after a couple of seasons in the South-East divisions.
LEEK TOWN – NPL South East Division
Distance from Rammy: 50.5 miles
Our record: Played 2, Won 0, Drawn 1, Lost 1, Goals 1, Against 5
Last meeting: 5 January 2019 at HWRS (1-1) in NPL 1 West
We have only met Leek Town twice in the 2018/19 season – coming unstuck 0-4 at Harrison Park and a 1-1 draw at the HWRS. They were moved South-East like many of the Staffordshire area groups but come back to the West for next season … let’s hope we fair better! They head west after topping the SE Division table after 8 games in 2020/21.
MARINE – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 50.1 miles
Our record: Played 7, Won 3, Drawn 1, Lost 3, Goals 12, Against 13
Last meeting: 14 March 2020 at Marine Travel Arena (W 1-0) in NPL NW
Who can ever forget that last gasp Jamie Rother goal at Marine in March 2020 – it was the final action of that season before it was sadly closed due to the pandemic. But Marine made their own history in the FA Cup, reaching the 3rd Round and a meeting with Tottenham Hotspur so are fancied to be quite a threat in 2021/22.
MARKET DRAYTON TOWN – NPL South East Division
Distance from Rammy: 76 miles
Our record: Played 2, Won 2, Goals 5, Against 2
Last meeting: 22 December 2018 at Greenfield (W 3-1) in NPL 1 West
It was just the one season previously that we met MDT when we were both in the previous West division and we prevailed in both games. The Shropshire side suffered a difficult short 2020/21 season, losing all eight games played, scoring just two goals and conceding 30. They will want better when they shift to the west in August.
MOSSLEY – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 20.9 miles
Our record: Played 30, Won 10, Drawn 5, Lost 16, Goals 64, Against 64
Last meeting: 22 September 2020 at Seel Park (L 1-2) in FA Cup First Qualifying
One of our shorter trips next season, the Lilywhites saw us off in the FA Cup last season but we did the double over them in the 2019/20 season, including a 7-1 Boxing Day win. 24 years of history between us and more to come with our local foes.
NEWCASTLE TOWN – NPL South East Division
Distance from Rammy: 64.2 miles
Our record: Played 33, Won 8, Drawn 3, Lost 22, Goals 43, Against 82
Last meeting: 26 March 2019 at HWRS (L 1-2) in NPL 1 West
One of real nemesis sides – in the last 9 games against them, we have won only once … and that was a 6-0 win in February 2019 only for us to lose 1-2 the next week! The dominant force in 2009/10 season when we finished fourth – we were only 33 points behind. It is nice to see them back again after just two games since that 2010 campaign.
PRESCOT CABLES – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 39.6 miles
Our record: Played 27, Won 14, Drawn 4, Lost 9, Goals 53, Against 37
Last meeting: 31 October 2020 at HWRS (W 2-1) in NPL North West
Our last league opponents before Lockdown 2 hit when we beat Cables 2-1 thanks to Kyle Harrison’s 86th minute winner. We have only lost once in the last 11 meetings with the Merseysiders and they are always welcome opponents as we hope to be able to lock horns without fear of any more lockdowns.
RUNCORN LINNETS – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 38.8 miles
Our record: Played 13, Won 8, Drawn 2, Lost 3, Goals 35, Against 16
Last meeting: 16 November 2019 at HWRS (1-1) at NPL North West
The Green and Yellows will be heading back to the HWRS once more as we have played each other in four different divisions over the years, back in NWCFL and now the NPL. We met in November 2019 before the league ended.
TRAFFORD – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 19.3 miles
Our record: Played 24, Won 10, Drawn 4, Lost 10, Goals 34, Against 36
Last meeting: 14 January 2020 at Shawe View (L 2-5) in NPL League Cup Round 2
One of the easiest journeys around the M60 to Shawe View, we have had many an enjoyable trip over the years in the NWCFL and NPL. Unbeaten in the last three league games, including a 2-1 New Years Day win in 2020 … if only we knew then what we know now! And our record – 10 wins and 10 defeats says much about the levels of the two clubs.
WARRINGTON RYLANDS – NWCFL Premier Division
Distance from Rammy: 28.7 miles
Our record: Never met before
The second of our new teams is Warrington Rylands, who have been in existence since 1906 but only joined the NWCFL in 2018 and bounced straight through Division One South and, topping the NWCFL Premier Division in the shortened 2020/21 season have been rewarded with promotion to the NPL.
So we will head to Gorsey Lane for the first time in our history and they will be looking for more success – as Wayne Rooney’s agent Paul Stretford stated in 2016 he wanted to get Rylands into the Football League. Will be interesting to see how they progress.
WIDNES – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 37 miles
Our record: Played 5, Won 2, Drawn 2, Lost 1, Goals 10, Against 7
Last meeting: 19 September 2020 at Halton Stadium (W 4-1) in NPL NW
The dual rugby league and football stadium of the Halton Stadium awaits us once more, where we won 4-1 in our last meeting in September 2020. The Whites were promoted to the NPL from the NWCFL back in 2018 and have been challenging opponents ever since.
WORKINGTON – NPL North West Division
Distance from Rammy: 128.3 miles
Our record: Played 11, Won 2, Drawn 5, Lost 4, Goals 11, Against 17
Last meeting: 25 January 2020 at HWRS (W 2-0) in NPL NW
Yes, it’s Workington, the last of our opponents for next season and we will hopefully continue our battle with the Reds once more, as we have for the last two seasons. Our trip to Borough Park is, by far, our furthest away but always worthwhile (even if our record says different, 0 wins in 6!!) but they and us will be hoping to finally get their reward for two superb seasons’.
The shake-up of the leagues means that we have lost the Yorkshire and beyond contingent to the east – Brighouse Town, Dunston, Marske United, Ossett United, Pickering Town, Pontefract Collieries and Tadcaster Albion, as well as from the 2019/20 season, the sad demise of Droylsden.
August simply cannot come soon enough!