Five Things We Learned 2023/24 - Gameweek 35

Wed 27th March 2024 | Five Things
By Jay Cooper

1. 1,200 up for Steve Wilkes

So, this comes with a story, and this certainly is something that I learned this week - I don't know about you. Ramsbottom United gaffer Steve Wilkes is arguably one of the most recognisable faces in the NWCFL, and, during an insightful conversation with him ahead of Rammy's away trip to FC Isle of Man (more on those guys later this week), he told me something very impressive.

Having begun his first stint as a manager (player-manager, technically) in the NWCFL in the late 1990's, it was during the 2023/24 season, when his side pumped Litherland REMYCA 5-1 in early February, that Wilkes' made it to the 1,200 games managed mark in this division. It's an accomplishment that very few have managed - well done, Steve!


2. A defiant Squires Gate

On Sunday, an article was published in Lancs Live detailing the brutal fact that Squires Gate had to postpone their game that was meant to be a part of this season's NWCFL groundhop due to the bad weather. Instead of a very helpful profit that would have been made via that game, instead they lost on money by buying supplies for a game that never took place.

A very upsetting turn of events for all fans associated with this league, let alone the club, but that didn't stop Gate going hell for leather in a league game later that Sunday night. They travelled away to AFC Liverpool, and, despite being 3-0 down after 36 minutes, they roared back into life late in the first half with 2 goals and had totally turned the game on its head by the full time whistle, winning 5-3.


3. A busy weekend at the bottom of the Prem

Squires Gate's win was epic, but, unfortunately for them, it came on a weekend where almost all of their relegation rivals also picked up 3 points. Arguably the most shocking of these results was bottom side Skelmersdale United, who seem to be edging closer and closer to the drop with each passing week, picking up a rare home win over Prestwich Heys.

Despite that win for Pascal Chimbonda and his players, their closes competitors in the league, Burscough, picked up a vital 4-0 victory over Pilkington. Both Harvey Sample and Stephen Rigby bagging braces was enough to see the away side from this fixture leapfrog their hosts into 22nd, and move out of the bottom 2 for the first time in what feels like forever. Pilkington still have the power in their own hands, however, as, with a win in their next game and a Skem loss, the latter are down.


4. A managerial mix up, part 1

Barnoldswick Town have had a solid enough season in the NWCFL Premier Division in 2023/24 - 17th sounds worse than it looks, given that they are a comfortable 6 points ahead of 18th placed Ramsbottom United, and a more than comfortable 18 points from the foot of the division. However, a big change occurred over the weekend - their manager, Craig Bradshaw, has stepped down from his role with immediate effect due to family and work commitments.

Barlick have acted quickly to ensure that their dugout didn't remain empty for long, and have appointed Steve Pickup, formerly of Northwich Victoria prior to their lateral move to the Midlands League, to their helm. A strong finish to the season and a good start to next campaign will be right at the forefront of his mind, you'd think.


5. A managerial mix up, part 2

In an entry that finally moves us away from the Premier Division, First Division South side Winsford Town, have had a survival shot in the arm with the re-introduction of the previously resigned Ellesmere Rangers to the relegation places. And they may have one extra shot, too, in the form of a new manager bounce, as the end of the season draws near.

Following a board meeting this past weekend, Lee Duckworth has stepped down as first team manager with immediate effect, and the temporary fix is already a member of the club's own coaching setup - Josh Hine will oversee proceedings for the near future. He could yet have quite the impact in the remaining 6 league matches that United have to play.

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