Pre-Season saw the emergence of new heroes and returning ones too with several new signings who are now well established in the squad like they’ve been around the club for years. Who then have become fan favourites. The award for fans player and young player of the year should be a tight vote as many have their own case to present as to why they should be given the award. That will be revealed on the 18th of May.
August was the clubs greatest start to a season since 1982/83 winning the first seven games of the season setting the benchmark for what was to come. Radcliffe have not been outside the play off places once all season. It all started with a 2-0 away win at newly promoted Widnes with goals from Ben Wharton and Elliot Rokka which secured the clubs first opening day win since 2004. A 5-0 demolition of Trafford at Shawe View was the highlight of the month with some fantastic football being played. The FA Cup clash at Prestwich Heys was given national attention being broadcast live on the BBC a professional 2-0 away win put The Boro though to the next round with Ben Wharton scoring both goals.
Watch: Tunde Owolabi wonder goal v Clitheroe
Ben Wharton grabs both goals in The FA Cup at Prestwich on his way to 25 goals
There was more cup action in September, a defeat on penalties to Premier Division side Lancaster City in the Integro League Cup away from home after a battling 2-2 draw was hard to take. But Radcliffe progressed in The FA Cup with a tight 1-0 win against Stalybridge before falling to National League North side Curzon Ashton at home 2-1. Which was our best cup run since 2012. A loss of league form occurred with home defeats to Glossop and Skelmersdale United, the team have failed to score only five times this season.
Watch: Boro's FA Cup win against Stalybridge
Captain Kingsley Williams opens the scoring against Curzon Ashton
October saw all draws in the league and a controversial exit from the FA Trophy at home to Cleethorpes. A single win at Irlam in the Manchester Cup with a hatrick from Shelton Payne the main highlights of a frustrating month.
Watch: Did it cross the line? Highlights of Cleethorpes at home
Shelton Payne scored a Hatrick at Irlam 1 of 5 that have been scored this season.
The Boro found their groove again in November with five consecutive wins to boost the club back to the top of the league table. A fiery 3-2 win at home to Prescot Cables and progression into the Semi Finals of the Manchester Cup were the best bits of the month.
Watch: Radcliffe 3-2 Prescot Cables- Michael Fowler Hatrick on his full debut
Lewis Lacy got the winner at Trafford and scored 2 goals this season
December saw tragedy off the field. Following the Lancashire Cup Quarter Final at Ashton Athletic several members of club staff were involved in a car accident travelling home. The club was left devastated by the passing of club photographer Peter Lee. On an emotional day at the Neuven Stadium the club and many from the world of Non-League football paid their respects. The lads delivered a 2-1 win against Chasetown. The club did themselves proud as everyone from players to supporters rallied round in a difficult time for all. A 7-0 win at Clitheroe followed where Tunde Owolabi scored a 25-minute Hatrick. A seven-match winning streak in the league was ended on boxing day with defeat at Ramsbottom.
Watch: Radcliffe 2-0 Atherton Collieries
The new year started off with two convincing wins at home to Trafford and Newcastle, but defeats at Leek and at home to Mossley stalled a title charge along with conceding a controversial last-minute penalty at Prescot Cables at the end of the month costing more vital points.
Watch: Tunde Owolabi grabs a New Year Hatrick v Trafford
In February it was scheduled to be a semi-final of the Manchester Cup Semi final at home to FC United of Manchester but due to their exclusion old foes Mossley took their place. And with it a place in the final with a 3-2 win at the Neuven Stadium in a disappointing night. A great away win at Droylsden was a false dawn after losing at home to Leek and away at Market Drayton which then left Radcliffe nine points off the pace at the top. This squad never gives up and proved it by going on a seven-match winning streak just like the beginning of the season after those defeats and cut the gap to leaders Atherton Collieries to a point.
Watch: Arron Burns speaks after scoring in his debut at Glossop
March was a huge month in the title race, the wins kept coming. Droylsden at home were despatched 2-1 and a 4-0 win at Kendal saw Ben Wharton become the clubs 3rd top goal scorer with a hattrick. Two massive games followed. A Callum Grogan goal at home to 3rd placed Runcorn Linnets in front of a big crowd at the neuven was followed by a top of the table clash at Atherton Collieries. Massive away support guided the boro to a vital 1-0 away win Tunde Owolabi the hero in jubilant scenes at the full-time whistle. As Radcliffe beat the eventual champions home and away.
Watch: Fan Cam Atherton Collieries Away
Tunde Owolabi Scores the winner at Atherton Colls.
April started with a tight nervous win over Kidsgrove to keep the gap at a point, but defeat at Colne put an end to the winning run with Radcliffe requiring other results to go in our favour to have any chance of taking top spot at the end of the season. We took three more points in a tight affair at Colwyn Bay with Tunde Owolabi yet again coming off the bench to win the game. But the title challenge was over on Easter Monday despite Atherton dropping points Radcliffe did as well at home to Ramsbottom. Giving the title to Colls but securing second place and home advantage guaranteed in the play offs for the first time in 16 years. The regular season ended in defeat at Chasetown before the biggest games this club faced in more than a decade.
Watch: Fan Cam home to Kendal
The Play Offs
The play offs arrived, the biggest week for many years. Ramsbottom were the visitors to a packed Neuven Stadium for the Semi Final. In one of their best performances of the season the rams were comfortably dispatched 3-0. A Towering Scott Metcalfe header towards the end of the first half put Radcliffe in charge going into the half time break. The Boro played some great football and Tunde Owolabi rounded the keeper after a fine ball from Captain Kingsley Williams to slot home. The goalscoring was complete after Ben Wharton lobbed Sam Ashton from distance to seal a place in the final.
Watch: Ramsbottom Semi Final
Saturday came, play off final day. A huge crowd of 1,141 came to watch history unfold at home to Leek Town. A side that had beaten Radcliffe home and away this season and the only team to have done so. The away side took the lead just before half time, Robert Stevenson slotted home after a long ball found him in space and went into the break ahead.
News came through that Brighouse were winning at half time in their final also, a result Radcliffe required to be promoted due to the play off promotion system installed for 2018/19. The atmosphere in the ground was uplifted even more as we discovered a win will take Radcliffe FC up to the Northern Premier League.
Half Time substitute Matthew Crothers made an instant impact, a low cross found Tunde Owolabi at the back post to tap home for his 26th goal of the campaign. The stadium sensed a victory as Radcliffe started to dominate the game as the crowd became louder and louder with a flurry of chances, as Callum Grogan, Matthew Crothers and Tunde Owolabi all had chances to find the winner.
But that moment came in the 63rd minute. Kyle Harrison was brought down in the box and the referee awarded a penalty. Ben Wharton stepped up. Amid huge pressure in such a vital moment found the bottom corner. Radcliffe were on their way to promotion. Jubilant scenes followed in the corner of the stadium where The Boro’s brilliant vocal support was based and we were on our way.
The clock started to tick rather slowly, five additional minutes were added and gave Leek enough time to have two great chances and cause a scare. A Free kick found Leek captain Niall Green in the box forcing Oliver Martin to tip onto the post with a fine save. Tim Grice was then found with a through ball in the 5th additional minute of time, to get one on one with Oliver Martin. But Scott Metcalfe saved the day with a superb tackle winning the ball cleanly to deny Leek the opportunity to take the final to extra time.
After a tense wait, referee Ben Atkinson eventually blew the full-time whistle to spark fantastic scenes. A pitch invasion followed, with players being carried off the pitch by their adoring fans with many wonderful images and memories from the day that will last a lifetime for all. Radcliffe FC was promoted in its 70th year back to the Northern Premier League.
Heroes: Owolabi and Crothers carried off by fans
The Radcliffe FC squad and staff of 2019 now join an exclusive list of legends from the 70 years of history of this football club and will be remembered in many years to come just like the other legendary teams of years gone by and have now their own page in the club’s history.
Legendary: Radcliffe's first promotion since 2003 is sealed.
Watch it all again: The Play Off Final