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Harry Williams celebrates 50 years at Ramsbottom United

THERE aren’t many club chairmen out there that can smile and have a laugh at the end of a relegation season ravaged by off-field issues.

But in Harry Williams, Ramsbottom United have one of the most dedicated chiefs in Non-League football.

Fifty years ago he helped set the club up in the Bury Amateur League and despite their first ever relegation this past season, Williams celebrated his, and the Rams’ half century in style.

He was enticed out by assistant manager Wayne Goodison last Friday night for what he thought would just be a chat about football over a pint, but when they ended up at Ramsbottom Cricket Club, by the side of the club’s home ground, there were over 100 people present to give Williams a surprise party he deserved.

“We walked in and they were all standing there with Elvis Presley’s ‘The Wonder of You’ playing in the background!” said the 71-year-old, who has missed just two games in 50 years.

“I was manager for 19 years before becoming chairman and even now I like to be involved on a day-to-day basis and keep the place tidy.

“I was only 22 when I first got involved with the club. I was a goalkeeper but I was bloody rubbish! I thought ‘I’ve got to give this up’ and luckily I had Ramsbottom then to put all my effort into.”

Harry Williams at his surprise party

Harry Williams at his surprise party

And hasn’t he needed to. The club’s 50th year was arguably their most difficult. On the pitch, they finished bottom of the Evo-Stik NPL Premier and they were left fighting for their future in January after terrible flooding from nearby River Irwell left them with thousands of pounds worth of damage.

“That’s football,” said Williams, who is interviewing potential new managers to replace Garry Vaughan and is helping complete work down at the club’s ground – which is named after him – in preparation for 2016-17.

“I want to see Ramsbottom be successful so I’ll back the new manager as much as I can,” he adds. “I’ve put my heart and soul into something and that’s what it’s all about.”

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