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Rylands 1906 – and the soccer season that never was

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AS the 2020/21 football season edges closer and closer towards its end, in whatever scenario that may be, Garry Clarke takes a look back at how Warrington Rylands 1906 have fared when they have managed to take to the field.
He writes: “If we thought 2019/20 was bad enough, it is safe to say 2020/21 has been a season like no other.
“Following the heartbreak of 2019/20 when 2nd in the NWCFL Premier Division, on the cusp of promotion to the Northern Premier League, the Covid-19 pandemic brought the season to a shuddering halt, with the Football Association declaring the season null and void.
“Undeterred Rylands returned for 2020/21 rebranded as Warrington Rylands 1906 Football Club.
“Emerging from the first National Lockdown into a unique mainly behind closed doors pre-season programme , Rylands kicked off the new season playing the first game under their new moniker away at 1874 Northwich on September 1 in the Emirates FA Cup extra preliminary round. An away game against the only team ahead of them in the table when the previous season was halted was not an easy assignment.
“However, watched by a Covid-19 restricted capacity crowd of 300, Rylands won 6-1. Star of the show was Steve Milne who marked his debut in blue with a hat-trick. Andy Scarisbrick scored twice and Kane Drummond once to complete a memorable start to the new season. Milne was the difference maker in the next round when Rylands hosted Northern Premier League Division One Clitheroe in the preliminary round on Saturday September 12. In front of a 275 strong crowd Milne struck the game’s only goal in the second half of a 1-0 win.
“Rylands kicked off their Buildbase FA Vase the following Saturday, September 19, away at NWCFL First Division Daisy Hill. Progress was made with a resounding 5-2 win, Drummond leading the way with two goals while Freddie Potter, Tom Freeman and Charlie Doyle netted one apiece.
“Tuesday September 22 saw Rylands make the long trip to Northern Premier League Whitby Town in the FA Cup first qualifying round. Playing behind closed doors due to Covid restrictions in the North East, Rylands almost took the lead in the opening minutes having a penalty saved and a goal disallowed. Completely outplaying their hosts they took the lead in the 48th minute through Scarisbrick but their hearts were broken when Whitby equalised with the last kick off the game. A joyful coach trip home followed a 4-3 penalty shoot out win.
“October opened on the 3rd with probably the biggest game in the club’s history as the BBC’s cameras rolled into the Gorsey Lane arena for the FA Cup second qualifying round against National League side York City. Broadcast live to the nation, played in front of a sold out Covid restricted 300 strong crowd in monsoon conditions, Rylands were more than a match for their illustrious visitors.
“Despite having more of the play and the better of the chances, even hitting the post with a penalty, it was the visitors who took the spoils with a goal minutes before half time.
Rylands finally got their NWCFL campaign under way on Wednesday October 7 visting Northwich Victoria. Twice coming from behind with goals from Potter and Scarisbrick they eventually got theirleague season off to a winning start as a Callum Lees goal clinched a 3-2 win.
“Saturday October 10 saw a return to cup action with the visit of Northern Counties East side Goole to Gorsey Lane in the second qualifying round of the FA Vase. The Yorkshire men were hit for six as Paul Shanley 2, Drummond 2, Milne and Potter got on the score sheet in a 6-0 romp.
A late Shanley penalty was the difference as Rylands beat Avro 1-0 at home in the league on Tuesday October 13 before a scheduled trip to Bootle on Saturday October 17 was postponed due to extra Covid restrictions in Merseyside.
“Sam Sheen’s first goal for the club rescued a point for Rylands in their next league assignment at Winsford United on Wednesday October 21 as they came from behind to draw 1-1, before further Covid restrictions put paid to their scheduled visit to Longridge Town on Saturday October 24.
“The lay-off did them no harm as they roared back into action on Tuesday October 27, hammering Whitchurch Alpor t7-1 in a league game at Gorsey Lane. New signing Elliot Nevitt opened his scoring account with a debut goal while captain Gary Kenny scored his first of the season, Freeman also found the net and both Drummond and Shanley bagged a brace as Rylands ascended to top spot in the Premier Division. Further progress was made in the FA Vase on Saturday October 31 when a double from Nevitt at Gorsey Lane dispatched Padiham 2-0 in the first round. Nevitt was also on target scoring the third goal in a 3-0 win at Congleton Town on Tuesday November 3, Drummond and Doyle having scored in the first half of which turned out to be Rylands last game for over a month as the country went into a second national lockdown.
“Non-elite football started to re-emerge at the start of December with the second round of the FA Vase, the draw for which gave Rylands an away tie at Northern League Jarrow. Originally scheduled for Saturday December 5, Rylands headed to the North East for a second time in the season a week later on December 12 after the pitch was unplayable due to heavy rain on the original date. In a game very similar to the Whitby game, Rylands dominated the game taking the lead though Doyle just after half time before the home side equalised deep into stoppage time. Once again they held their nerve to win the penalty shoot out 5-4.The reward for winning at Jarrow was another away tie in the third round, this time closer to home against NWCFL Premier Division rivals Longridge Town on Saturday December 19.
“With spectators still not permitted into grounds in Lancashire the game was switched to Gorsey Lane where goals from Drummond and Nevitt saw Rylands through 2-1. The FA Vase fourth round draw rewarded Rylands with another away game in the North East against Shildon. The festive fixture at Runcorn Town on Bank Holiday Monday December 28 was postponed due to a water logged pitch –and, for now, that’s where it ended with Warrington Rylands 1906 sitting second in the NWCFL Premier Division table three points behind leaders Avro with three games in hand. On New Year’s Eve the NWCFL announced all fixtures would be suspended until further notice before on January 4 as all non-elite sport was suspended due to the country entering the latest national lockdown leaving clubs, supporters, officials and fans waiting for the return of their favourite sport

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