Roller-coaster year for Jekyll and Hyde Boro

1:47pm Tuesday 29th December 2009

By Nick Jackson

JANUARY

THE year started badly for Boro with director of football Gerry Luczka issuing a rallying call in the wake of his side’s sixth successive league defeat.

Neighbours Rossendale United — a club Luczka captained in his playing days — had inflicted a 3-1 reverse on Radcliffe at Stainton Park which prompted a call from the boss to increase their work-rate.

They stopped the rot with a pleasing 1-1 draw at league leaders AFC Halifax Town and it could have been a win, if Steve Howson’s chip 11 minutes from time had not rebounded off the bar onto the post.

Successive defeats against Woodley Sports, Trafford and Chorley plunged Stainton Park back into the winter gloom before Craig Dawson, Adam Roscoe and Owen Roberts scored the goals to put the smile back on Boro faces with a 3-2 home win over Bamber Bridge.

FEBRUARY

JEKYLL and Hyde Boro progressed to the semi-final of the Lancashire Co-op Cup with a 2-1 win at UniBond Division One rivals Fleetwood with Tom Rutter and Roscoe getting the goals.

Normal service was then resumed as Boro suffered a spate of suspensions, injuries and absences before going down 4-1 at the hands of high-flying Curzon Ashton. They then blew a two-goal lead at basement club Salford City before drawing 2-2.

Boro continued to struggle in the league but marched on in the Lancashire Co-Op Cup with a 2-1 victory at Kendal Town.

MARCH

THE month started well with Dawson and Roscoe supplying the goals to avenge their home defeat to Rossendale before a superb 4-2 home victory over form team Durham City.

They let themselves down with a 2-1 home defeat to local rivals Trafford before redeeming themselves with a thumping 4-1 win in West Yorkshire at Garforth Town in which hitherto fringe man Tom Brooks made his mark with a hat-trick alongside Howson’s single strike.

With Luczka saving his ammunition for the forthcoming Lancashire Co-Op Cup final against promotion-chasing Skelmersdale United at Lancashire FA headquarters in Leyland, they were then on the wrong end of a 4-2 defeat at Durham.

Boro played out of their skins in the final which was deadlocked at 1-1 until the 28th minute of extra time when Michael Houghton broke Radcliffe hearts with a close-range strike for the West Lancashire men. Luczka paid tribute to his heroic finalists and urged them to pick themselves up for the league campaign.

APRIL

DESPITE Luczka’s best efforts, his men suffered a cup hangover with a 2-0 reverse against Warrington at Stainton Park.

But as if to prove that Boro never do anything the easy way, they went to Clitheroe on Good Friday with Howson and Rutter grabbing the crucial goals in an impressive win They finished the season on a high with Ben Wharton, Rutter, Griff Jones and Howson grabbing the goals in a 4-2 win at Warrington Town.

MAY

LUCZKA was forced to play a waiting game before he could begin planning for the next campaign. His strategy would be governed by whether or not the club could attract a major sponsor.

Major shareholder Bernard Manning warned the Radcliffe public may have to accept the side would play at a lower level if a sponsor could not be found, while chief executive David Murgatroyd threw out a challenge to businesses in the town to toss their hats into the ring.

Boro signed midfielder Mike Eckersley from Chorley and rejected a raft of offers for supporters’ player-of-the-year Mark Jones.

JUNE

A FRIENDLY match was arranged with Rochdale as part of the deal which took Boro’s impressive centre back Craig Dawson to Spotland towards the end of the season.

Boro reported back for pre-season training with Eckersley and Accrington Stanley loanee Bee Ami joining the ranks, but right back Gary Sampson left Stainton Park.

JULY

BORO offered local people the chance to go training as football ground stewards to a national standard while on the pitch Luczka geared his men up for their mouthwatering pre-season Newsquest Cup match at home to League Two neighbours Bury which they lost 2-1. The Shakers goals came from Andy Bishop and Domaine Rouse, but Luczka hailed his side’s performance.

Luczka then signed former Coventry midfielder Eddie Stanford, who impressed in Boro’s 5-0 defeat against Accrington Stanley.

AUGUST

FORMER Boro lad Craig Dawson prepared to make his debut for Rochdale while Luczka hailed the performances of Stanford as his side notched four wins on the bounce before being brought down to earth with a 7-0 home defeat at the hands of Colwyn Bay.

Things were looking better on the financial front when local law firm Butcher and Barlow were unveiled as the club’s major sponsor.

SEPTEMBER

DAWSON’S performances at Rochdale started to raise eyebrows with Radcliffe set to pocket 15 per cent of any sell-on fee.

Meanwhile, former Radcliffe talisman Jody Banim returned to the club to score in Boro’s 3-1 FA Cup second preliminary round victory over Warrington Town in a mini-cup run worth £9,000.

OCTOBER

BORO had the taste for cup football, with a 6-3 FA Trophy first qualifying round win over Mickleover Sports. Luczka, meanwhile, targeted the FA Cup first round as a realistic aim ahead of a third qualifying round tie at Workington.

It was a step too far, however, as injury-ravaged Boro were beaten 3-0.

Attention returned to the Trophy, but Radcliffe were beaten 6-3 by Quorn with promising young centre back Sean Connor given a red card to add to Luczka’s selection problems.

NOVEMBER

BORO beat UniBond Premier League side Burscough 2-1 in the second round of the Lancashire Co-Op Cup. But it was a win that came at a cost as Banim was sent off for dissent, banned for two matches and charged with improper conduct for continuing his tirade in the social club after the match.

Boro were beaten 2-1 at home in disappointing style by Prescot Cables as the weather started to wreak havoc with UniBond Football League programme.

DECEMBER

WEATHER wiped out many fixtures, but Boro travelled to Woodley Sports who have an artificial pitch and were beaten 3-2.

That turned out to be the final action of the year as the weather took its toll.

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