The time of goodwill to all men apparently hasn’t reached East Anglia, for the Rams’ furthest visit ever turned out to be a battle of attrition, with events off the pitch transposing themselves on to it.
At a time when even warring factions of a century ago decided to abandon acrimonious actions, sadly a handful of imbeciles from Norfolk decided it would be an appropriate time to relive the Draconian days of the 1980s.
Animal noises and racist remarks aimed at a number of Ramsbottom United players and staff set the tone for a game that ultimately saw the referee lose control, with tackles flying in thick and fast, Rammy’s Scott Burton sent off in the dying minutes, and managers from both sides dispatched to the stands after a dug-out altercation.
Peace to all men never came close, as the unpleasant atmosphere created by a number of home fans left both clubs with a nasty taste in their mouths.
This is not what football should be about, and, as a result, no doubt the F.A. will be looking into the allegations.
It was hardly surprising, then, that the game will be remembered more for behaviour off the pitch than on it.
After Scott Burton sent an early header over the bar, Grant Spencer opened the scoring for the visitors with a free-kick from just outside the box that clipped the inside of the keeper’s right hand post before settling in just beyond the left-hand one.
With few chances for either side, the Rams just about deserved their interval lead but within seven minutes of the re-start, the home side were level.
A free-kick was only partially cleared, and as the ball bobbled about the penalty area, Michael Frew took full advantage and blasted home from ten yards out.
An unseemly scuffle broke out by the dug-outs moments later which saw Rams joint-manager Anthony Johnson sent to the stands along with his King’s Lynn counterpart, and yet again tension arose on the field. At one point, the game was continuing with three playing lying prone at various positions within the pitch!
Tackles were fierce as any thoughts of “the beautiful game” vanished, as should a number of the home fans, but lackadaisical stewarding allowed the atmosphere to deteriorate, and the Rams unpleasant experience was made worse in the final few minutes.
On 86 minutes, having swept forward looking to clinch all three points, the visitors left themselves open at the back to a breakaway. The ball fell for Frew in acres of space, and he fired the winner past Grant Shenton’s left to clinch all three points for the Norfolk side. Worse was to follow when Burton reacted angrily to a tackle to earn a yellow card. However, as he had been booked earlier, the subsequent red appeared and the Rams finished with ten men.
A long journey home, and on the evidence of the welcome received from the moronic few, a future visit to King’s Lynn is hardly one to embrace.
RAMSBOTTOM UNITED team: Grant Shenton, Dominic Smalley, George Grayson, Gary Stopforth, Steven Howson, Cedric Krou, Osebi Abadaki, Scott Burton, Jordan Hulme, Grant Spencer, Phil Dean. Subs: Tom Williams (for Abadaki 88mins), Jon Robinson (for Spencer 88mins), Tom Brooks (for Phil Dean 88mins), David Kuba-Kuba, Malachi Slaven.