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Ramsbottom United 5 Winsford United 2
RAMSBOTTOM United’s joint manager Anthony Johnson has vowed to take the Evo-Stik League by storm after his team clinched the club’s first ever North West Counties League Premier Division title.
Rammy swept aside Winsford United 5-2 on Saturday to claim the championship by four points and win an historic promotion to Evo-Stik League Division One North.
It was the culmination of three years of hard work for joint managers Johnson, aged 29, and Bernard Morley, 28, who have guided the Rams to fourth, second and now a first place finish in the NWCL Premier Division during their time in charge.
“Absolutely amazing – to achieve the highest position that the club ever has done, it’s a great achievement from the lads,” said Johnson.
“But we will not be there (in the Evo-Stik) to make up the numbers. We’re going up there to push on. We’re aiming for the play-offs at least.”
A season’s best crowd of 546 saw the visitors blown away in the first 20 minutes on a blustery day at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium.
Lee Gaskell opened the scoring with a well-taken finish in the second minute, before a gust of wind blew Grant Spencer’s intended cross straight into the Winsford net three minutes later.
The Rams needed to win to be sure of the title and all fears of last-day heartbreak were put to bed on 18 minutes when central defender Ian Flannery towered above his marker to head home a Spencer corner.
Winsford threatened to spoil the party after striker Jamie Henders caught the Rammy defence napping on 35 minutes, but two goals either side of the break from top-scorer Jon Robinson snuffed out the visitors’ resistance.
By the time Daley Woods fired in a Winsford free-kick from the edge of the box 25 minutes from time, the result was already well beyond doubt.
The champagne corks flew on the final whistle as Rammy’s victorious team were presented with the Premier Division trophy, and there could have been nobody happier than chairman Harry Williams, pictured left, who founded the Rams in 1966.
“It’s absolutely fantastic for the club and for the town to take this team to the level of football we are going to be playing next season.
“From a personal point of view, I’ve gone through all the amateur leagues – the Bolton Combination Manchester League, North West Counties and into the Evo-Stik – so long may it continue.”
The sight of crowds queuing all the way to the neighbouring cricket ground will have no doubt pleased the wily old chairman almost as much as the victory itself.
It was the club’s third highest gate – they had 1,653 for a league visit of FC United in 2007 and 845 against Southport in the FA Cup in 2004 – and an indication of Rammy’s potential pulling-power.
Williams is now determined to build on that potential in the Evo-Stik.
“Once you get in there, you don’t want to be always finishing in the bottom six, you’ve got to be in there with a fighting chance,” he said.
“We’ve got to get switched on and move on, savour this moment then get our house in order so that we are going to be competitive in the next league.”