Harry Williams Riverside Stadium
Evo-Stik Division 1 North
It's safe to say that Non League football right now is as popular as ever, with the past weekend marking the 7th annual 'Non League Day' and the fly-on-the-wall documentary about the 'Class of 92' buying Salford City and financing it through the pyramid steps.
I'm privileged to live in the Manchester / Lancashire area which is abundant with Premier League, Football League and Non League clubs and on this occasion, I took the 25 minute drive over to Ramsbottom United in the next town along.
This groundhop was quite impromptu as it came off the back end of me and my wife watching the documentary and Emma wanting to see Gareth Seddon (the star striker) play for his hometown club. She wasn't disappointed as she got to witness him in action and I fulfilled another groundhopping adventure.
What makes Ramsbottom United so uniquely special is that they manage to achieve all three at the same time. Firstly, the iconic East Lancashire Railway (ELR) line runs parallel behind the goal end which is occupied by historical, restored steam trains such as the 'Flying Scotsman'.
The River Irwell which begins from Bacup and ends in Salford, flows through the likes of Ramsbottom and Bury, whilst passing through the city of Manchster too. It's path wraps itself around most of the stadium which, as 'The Rams' found out last Christmas, is suseptible to flooding if the river banks burst.
Lastly the Football Club shares its premises with Ramsbottom Cricket Club and I had the unusual privilege of being able to watch both the Cricket and Football from my seat. I did wonder though how safe or wise it is for both to play simultaneously with corkers and leather flying out their regulated boundaries into the opposite venue...but somehow it works.
Just like Bacup Borough, they serve hot drinks in mugs which I think is great, however I don't agree with the 'milk first, pour second' policy they had going at Rammy, their Tea was very anaemic.
Meanwhile the perimeter of the pitch used the concrete slabs which majority of the crowd perched over to take in the action. Three of the four sides housed a stand with the 'Rammy Ultras' based in the Jack Wolfenden stand behind the goal (Irwell river end). The Ellis Timlin stand down the side of the pitch, with an unsponsored stand behind the other goal (the railway end).
Sad to say but Gareth Seddon didn't make the scoresheet although he did lead the line well.
Glossop started off the first half strongest and this showed when they took their chances and scored the opening goal. However not long after the scoreline was 1-1 when Ramsbottom's small midfielder outjumped the defence to connect with the ball and level the match. The first half ended fairly even with the scoreline showing.
The second half though began to run away from the Referee's control where he was making mistake after mistake and missing various glaring fouls. The atmosphere and attitude on the pitch was heating up resulting in a freekick being given 25 yards from goal for Ramsbottom.
Taking a deflection, the ball floated in and the players celebrated.
During the celebrations one of the GNE players had verbally abused a supporter, which the Assistant Referee heard and send him off.
It then took 5 minutes for the Assistant to inform the Referee and for the player to return from the changing rooms and officially receive his red card.
The situation was a massive farce and by the time GNE had kicked off, they immediately went to the other end and scored. Ramsbottom's lack of concentration had become affected by switching off over the red card.
The Referee fumbled his way to the full time whistle with honours even at the end and both teams bemused by the lack of consistency in the freekicks and bookings.
As a neutral though I absolutely loved my experience at Ramsbottom United and would definitely return again in the near future.
As for Glossop North End, their football was pleasant to watch and they got the ball down on the deck quite a lot. Hopefully when May comes both will be vying for promotion and making the move from Step 4 to Step 3.