When Ramsbottom United’s Chairman Harry Williams received a visit from assistant manager Wayne Goodison suggesting they pop out for a pint, he had no idea what was waiting for him.
Having been driven down to Ramsbottom Cricket Club, by the side of the Rams’ “Harry Williams Riverside Stadium”, in the Chairman’s own words … “I opend the door to the sound of cheering and Elvis Presley singing “The Wonder of You”, thinking what is going on”.
Only then did he realise he’d been kidnapped by everyone at the club to celebrate his 50 years in charge of the Evo-Stik League side.
The surprise party was organised by the Supporters Club, along with Catering Manageress Sophie Fletcher.
Players, both past and present, were there along with supporters, and tears were flowing as Harry made an impromptu speech thanking everyone for turning up to surprise him, and reminiscing on his half-century with the club he helped to found back in 1966.
During his time at the helm, he has overseen the move to the present ground in the town centre, as well as the team progressing from local park football into the higher regions of non-league football. Having been manager for many of the early years, he is probably the most hands-on Chairman in football, spending virtually every day at the ground along with the likes of octogenarian Jack Wolfenden and his band of helpers, ensuring that his self-named stadium is kept in pristine condition, a job made all the more difficult this season with the well-acknowledged flooding that took place on Boxing Day.
On the pitch, after a constant upward trajectory, Harry’s half-century has been partly ruined by the Rams first ever relegation back to Evo-Stik Division One North, but with a new manager about to be appointed, all the stops are out for a swift return to non-league’s level three, as the Chairman embarks upon his next fifty years in charge!