A new book has just been published telling the story of Ramsbottom United Football Club from the time when it was founded in 1966.
‘Come on You Rams’ is a book which author Nigel Jepson admits he started writing this year as a means of coming to terms with the fact that the football season had ended abruptly in March 2020 due to the Covid crisis.
Hunting for source-material, Nigel was astounded at the amount available that came to him in the form of scrapbooks that had been kept by those involved with the club from its very start.
‘Ramsbottom is a very close community,’ Nigel says, ’which means that those who have played for the club over the years have kept in regular touch and there is a common bond between the different ‘generations’ of players.’
What emerges here is a fascinating account – in over 200 pages accompanied by a wealth of photos – of the journey Rammy United has made from starting out as a park team in 1966 to achieving its current Northern Premier League status.
Over and above, what makes this thoroughly-researched story unique is the part played by the dedicated Harry Williams (often dubbed ‘Mr Ramsbottom United’) who has endured at the club’s helm throughout its 54 years of existence to date.
Starting out as manager at the age of 22 in 1966, the same year England won the World Cup, Harry continued in that role until becoming Chairman in the 1980s, remaining in this position right up to the present day. To judge by the photographic evidence, still looking as young as ever!
From the early days of starting out in the Bury Amateur League, then on to the Bolton Combination before embarking on the Manchester League, these years precede those spent in the North West Counties League before the heady heights of the Northern Premier League eventually get reached.
Legendary are the stories – captured throughout this book – relating to Harry’s distinctive (and famously thrifty!) way of running the club which has helped make Rammy United such a special club within the folk-lore of the semi-pro footballing circuit.
Apart though from Harry, this absorbing account of the club’s history is teeming with other colourful characters, following on in Harry’s pioneering foot-steps. For example, there is the remarkable, fiery managerial duo of Bernard Morley and Anthony Johnson, cutting their managerial teeth at the Harry Williams Riverside Stadium, who succeeded in achieving two fabulous promotions in 2012 and 2014 before controversially departing, together with the core of their Rammy team, to ‘Class of 92’ Salford City.
Frank account is given in this book to the issues that faced the club both before and after the Bernard/Jonno era. The book also pays full justice to the way club fortunes have since recovered under present manager Chris Willcock. Despite the Covid-based annulment of season 2019/20, the club has again managed to hit the high spots up to the present time.
In all, ‘Come on You Rams’ provides a heady cocktail of tales and testimonies, triumphs and occasional tragedies (such as surrounding the death of manager Ken Bridges), on and off the pitch, told through a vast number of revealing eye-witness accounts across the years – managers, players, fans and all those working tirelessly behind the scenes to make the club what it is today.
This is in essence a story about a club that has always punched above its weight. It makes for a compelling read not only to anyone directly interested in the particular story of Rammy United itself but also to all those eager to learn more about the spirit of football played at this semi-pro level of ‘the great national game’.
Beyond the footballing dimension, there is much here too in this book to engage the interest of those keen to pick up more about the social and economic history of Ramsbottom which has inevitably run alongside the growth of the football club over a period of time.
‘Come on You Rams’, published by YouCaxton at £11.99 will be available for purchase from the start of December.
A ‘launch event’ has been arranged in the club’s Hospitality Suite at the Harry Williams Riverside Ground, authorised by Ramsbottom United Football Club, for all interested in purchasing a copy of the book on Saturday 5th December from 2pm – 3.30pm. The author will be present and on this occasion, a first print of 200 copies, where all proceeds from the sales go directly to the club, will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at a discount price of £10 on the day.
A great time to purchase an early Christmas present!
Copies can also be obtained from Amazon or Waterstones in Bury.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nigel Jepson lives in Ramsbottom and is a keen supporter of Ramsbottom United.
He moved to the area in the mid-90s after taking up post as Head Teacher at nearby
Haslingden High School.
His last UK head’s post was at Kearsley Academy in Bolton from 2010 to 2014.
‘Retired’, he has carried out interim work abroad in the meantime, serving as Principal in
Dubai during 2016 and carrying out a teacher training programme in schools in New Delhi in
Keen throughout his life on team sports, he has also taken to the challenge of marathonrunning starting with London (1982) and moving through to New York (2001). Over 2017 to 2019, he has run four more marathons in Dubai, Belfast, Manchester and Liverpool.
Nigel’s writing has to date concentrated on novels, with four publications:
‘The Inspector and the Superhead’ (2000)
‘Cut and Run’ (2006)
‘In a League of His Own’ (2011)
‘Speed is of the Essence’ (2015)
Having studied for a History degree at Cambridge University back in the day, it is ironic that
this work marks his baptism in the sphere of history-writing!