Thursday, March 29, 2007

Fans set to 'steam' their way to Rammy


By Lindsay Southall

IT is full steam ahead for hundreds of FC United of Manchester fans when they arrive in Ramsbottom on Easter Saturday to watch their table-topping side.

A steam train, The Rammy Rattler, is fully booked with more than 300 supporters of the Red Rebels ahead of their game with Ramsbottom United on April 7.

Supporters will board the train at Heywood East Lancashire Railway Station at 11am arriving at Bolton Street station in Bury at 11.20am.

It will then reach Ramsbottom 25 minutes later and continue up to Rawtenstall before returning back to Ramsbottom for 12.30pm.

The fans will then pack into the Riverside Ground for the 3pm kick-off.

The Rammy Rattler has been arranged by the Bury and District Supporters Branch for FC United. Member Mark O'Rourke said: "The idea came from a chat over a pint last season when FC United looked likely to join Ramsbottom United in the North West Counties Football League Division One.

"We thought that, as supporters, we couldn't let this local fixture pass without doing something a bit different to mark it.

"I contacted the people at the East Lancs Railway who at first looked at me as though I was mad and then they could see I was serious in trying to re-enact the days when almost every fan made their way to the game on the train, the infamous Football Special'."

The plan was to fill one carriage with 64 fans but numbers continued to creep up as more heard about the idea until the train ended selling out with 320 supporters.

Ramsbottom United chairman Harry Williams said it would be the biggest attendance in the club's history.

"We have a capacity of 1,750 and entrance will be by ticket only.

"It is a big day for the club, and has taken a lot of planning, but we are really looking forward to it."

He added with a smile: "The bakers will probably have to work a nightshift on the Friday as we hope to sell plenty of pies."