On Saturday we make the short trip to the other side of Bolton to face Radcliffe FC at the Neuven Stadium. The Boro climbed up to 4th place in the division following a 1-0 win away at Kidgrove Athletic last weekend. Boro sit 5 points behind Colls but crucially have 2 games in hand, making this a pivotal fixture for both clubs.
The game also sees a return to their former club for Danny Lambert, Dave Sherlock and captain Danny Lafferty, who also captained Radcliffe Borough, before their name change. Familiar faces in the Radcliffe squad include Rick Smith who had a spell with Colls last season, on loan from Ashton United and Liam Wood who saw red for two yellow cards last weekend.
The big news coming out of the M26 area last week was the appointment of former FC United manager Karl Marginson as Head of Football Operations. What this role actually entails remains to be seen but should be taken as a sign of ambition from chairman Paul Hilton, bringing in a very experienced head.
Over recent campaigns, Radcliffe and Colls have been both regular and evenly matched foes in cup competitions but meetings in league games have been far less prevalent. Prior to last season, the local rivals were last in the same division in 1981/82 when they competed at the second level of the Cheshire County League.
Drawn together in the FA Cup in both 2013/14 and 2014/15, Radcliffe were victorious in replays on both occasions, The Boro were described as “our nemesis”. Colls finally broke the Radcliffe hoodoo in the Lancashire Challenge Trophy in 2014 at Stainton Park, Brad Cooke famously donning the goalkeeping gloves and emerging victorious from a penalty shoot-out, earning himself the moniker “Brad The Cat”.
In the same division once again, the two teams met in February and March of this year. Our home game saw a 1-1 draw being played out, Radcliffe equalising in the first half after Jordan Cover had opened the scoring. The away tie was far more memorable, played in a snow storm that almost resulted in a white out, Colls took the lead early, again through that man Cover. Many of the travelling away support still in the clubhouse sheltering from the elements.
The second half saw us huddled together behind the goal like penguins. The huddle broke into mayhem as Jordan Cover ran at the Radcliffe defence, including former Colls man Rick Smith, turning them inside out, before putting the ball through the legs of the keeper to double the lead. Colls fans headed for the exit the moment the final whistle blew, before the roads become impassable.
Following finishing in 20th position in the league last season, manager Jon Macken made a number of changes to his squad. The marquee signing is that of frontman Ben Wharton, who returned to the club following stints at Colne, Warrington Town, Bamber Bridge and Curzon Ashton. The big man has formed a formidable partnership up front with the pacey Tunde Owolabi.
Another massive coup was the return of wide man Elliot Rokka, who had previously left the club to join Tranmere Rovers. Also joining the strike force is experienced attacking midfielder Shelton Payne, who clinched the club’s Player of the Month for October.
Reinforcements in the defence have allowed the instantly recognisable Rick Smith to move back into his favoured midfield berth, where we expect the game to be decided. Radcliffe, like ourselves, playing open, attacking football. Will it be Clegg or Macken smashing the water bottles at full-time? Either way, it promises to be a cracker.
As ever, we'll be providing Twitter coverage for those unable to attend the game.
Location: M26 3PE
Date: Sat 1st December
All U16s FREE