As the sound of “We are the Champions” reverberated around the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, Ramsbottom United captain Andy Dawson gleefully collected the Championship Trophy from League Chairman Dave Tomlinson before a delighted crowd of 546.
As has been the case for the majority of the season, the supporters were treated to another entertaining display of attacking football that has seen the Rams deservedly clinch the championship, and with it, promotion to the Evo-Stik League.
Needing to better Runcorn Town’s result, the home side began at a searing pace, and found themselves two up after only five minutes.
After just two minutes, Danny Warrender threaded a fine ball through from the right-hand side of midfield, and Lee Gaskell judged his run to perfection to gather the ball with only the keeper to beat, and this he did with ease.
Within three minutes, Grant Spencer’s speculative cross caught the swirling wind and beat the bewildered Jones, in the Winsford goal, at his near post.
Any early worries had been well and truly banished, and the Rams put in a performance worthy of champions against a side which had won 5-1 away earlier in the week.
On 18 minutes, the trophy was virtually captured, as Ian Flannery rose highest to connect with a Grant Spencer corner, and power a header home to notch an early 3-0 lead.
Moments before that, Jones was lucky to escape with just a yellow card. A perfectly-judged through ball found Jon Robinson chasing against the on-rushing Jones, and as the two collided, the referee gave the home side the free-kick, and reached into his pocket. Having lectured the keeper and his team-mates, he decided that a yellow was sufficient, despite Jones being the last man.
Winsford, though shell-shocked, gradually pulled themselves together and looked menacing on a couple of occasions. Mark Ayres pulled off a vital close-range block, and a couple of other chances went begging, before Henders reduced the lead on 35 minutes. He chased a through ball, raced round Flannery before unleashing an unstoppable shot past Grant Shenton’s left hand.
This brought a response from the Rams. Spencer’s tricky run into the box saw him feed Gaskell, but his close range effort was deflected by the keeper, but as half-time approached, the three goal cushion was regained.
Phil Dean provided an inch-perfect pass for Jon Robinson, who slotted the ball home from ten yards out.
Fine work by Robinson and Gaskell almost led to a fifth goal as the half-time whistle sounded.
It took just three minutes of the second half before the Rams extended the lead.
Robinson found space in the box and he fired home a beauty as the home side sought to extend their advantage even more. It was not to be, however, as two goals were ruled out in quick succession, one for offside and the other for a foul.
Substitute Keiron Pickup chased through the heart of the Winsford defence, before firing home a low drive that Jones just managed to turn round for a corner, before Winsford scored a second, on 66 minutes, when Woods free-kick on the edge of the box, beat both the wall and Shenton.
Gaskell was twice denied by Jones, who was working overtime in the Winsford goal, before a sixth goal looked inevitable. Dean controlled the ball in front of an open goal but it bobbled away to the on-rushing Gaskell, but he fired wide when it looked easier to score.
Dominic Smalley saw a fierce volley deflected for a corner before Gaskell volleyed wide, as the Cheshire side’s goal remained intact until the final whistle.
At that point it was a case of cheers all around the ground. Supporters, players and management all enjoyed a moment of celebration and history, as the curtain came down on a truly memorable season for the Rams.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED: Shenton, Warrender, Ayres, Stopforth(Sharples 67mins), Dawson, Flannery, Spencer(Smalley 76mins), Pilkington, Robinson(Pickup 60mins), Gaskell, Dean Subs not used: Morley, Hulme
This season has seen the Rams create a number of new records:
- The 108 goals scored is a club record.
- The 96 points is a club record.
- The 31 league wins is a club record.
- The 16 away league wins is a club record.
- The attendance of 546 for the Winsford United game was the third highest in the club’s history after the FC United of Manchester League game and the FA Cup tie against Southport.