Players, management and Supporters got together on Saturday night, to celebrate the end of the season for Evo-Stik West side Ramsbottom United.

A season that began in mediocre mode proved to be one of the best in recent years, with a final league placing of fifth, which saw them compete in the play-offs, and an exciting journey to the last 16 of the FA Trophy.

Held in the adjacent cricket club, a speech from Chairman Harry Williams indicated just how well the season had progressed under new manager Chris Willcock. Harry indicated that the change of management had certainly improved performances and that the club is now looking to making further strides in an attempt to regain Evo-Stik Premier Division status, with more work expected to take place on the ground throughout the summer break.

He thanked everyone who had worked tirelessly behind the scenes, and reiterated just how much is involved in running a semi-professional club at this level. He also thanked manager Chris Willcock and his coaching staff, noting that when the previous manager left he immediately contacted Chris, with no-one else in mind, having known what a fine job he had done at other clubs, and the fact that he had spent a couple of seasons as a player with the Rams. He also praised the players for their efforts on behalf of the club, and their fine FA Trophy run.

Club captain Tom Kennedy spoke, stating that having had a wonderful career professionally, joining Ramsbottom United has allowed him to enjoy his football this season. He praised the team spirit within the side and how the players all mix well together, and the fact that he has had many laughs and much banter with the Chairman. He looked forward to more success in the future.

Manager Chris Willcock thanked the Chairman for offering him the opportunity to return to management at a time when he felt he was struggling to get back into the game. He stated that he had needed to rebuild the squad, which he did quickly, and praised the players for the way they had stuck to the task and produced some entertaining football. He also highlighted the excellent work undertaken by his coaching staff, and although disappointed that promotion failed to materialise, felt that with an extra three months preparation time for next season, the club could really push on in an attempt to gain promotion next time. He thanked the supporters for their backing, especially the “Weymouth 17” who made the long midweek journey to the south coast to follow the club in the FA Trophy replay, and was happy that they had something to celebrate.

Flowers were handed out to four hard working girls at the club, Sophie Fletcher, Dawn Comer, Katie Worswick and Emma Debono, as appreciation for their efforts throughout the season.

Trophies were then presented on the night, the first going to the player voted the “Players’ Player of the Season”.

This was handed over by the manager to winger NIC EVANGELINOS.

The “Supporters Player of the Year” was won by club captain TOM KENNEDY, who received his award along with the large Club Cup from supporter Dawn Comer.

A “Special Award” was presented by assistant manager Lee Donafee in recognition of an outstanding goal-scoring feat during the club’s mammoth FA Trophy run. Ten goals were scored in the twelve games played, including a hat-trick in the amazing 5-5 draw at the HWRS against AFC Fylde, by NIC EVANGELINOS, who scooped this prize.

Finally the “Clubman of the Year” went to someone who had not missed a game all season. As this was being mentioned, he whispered that he hadn’t missed a game in THREE seasons, making the awarding of the trophy even more relevant. This went to the club’s long-standing and popular photographer FRANK CROOK, who as well as providing all the snapshots for publication, spends much of the week down at the ground doing whatever is necessary to keep the stadium in prime condition and the pitch similar.

The night ended with a feeling that, although the season just ended had been most enjoyable, the optimism for the new campaign was already tangible, and as the fans take a break, the management will now begin the task of putting together a strong squad for next season, whilst work behind the scenes will continue through the summer months.

All the photos from the presentation night are below, taken by Frank Crook

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