Monday 31st October 2005

Ward: Let's make it happen

This time last season, Ramsgate had just won 2-0 at Greenwich Borough as they bagged more points towards winning the Kent League title and then secured a 2-1 win at Whitstable Town in a League Cup tie, writes Stephen McCartney.

Little did those brave souls at Harrow Meadow know a year later they would be fifth in the Ryman League First Division table and preparing for a tie in the first round proper of the FA Cup.

Has there ever been a better time at Ramsgate Football Club?

But before the Rams travel to Nuneaton Borough on Saturday, they travel to Merland Rise on Tuesday night to tackle Banstead Athletic with three points at stake, but you can forgive them if they do lose as they do have more important things on their mind.

In an EXCLUSIVE interview with www.kentishfootball.co.uk a proud Jim Ward admitted: "I think it may be a good thing playing tomorrow night, providing we don't have any injuries and Nuneaton don't learn too much about us.  No doubt they'll come down and do their homework."

Without a league fixture on Saturday - there are 23 teams in the division - Ward fielded some of his FA Cup heroes in a reserve team fixture, which saw them beat Dartford 3-0 at Southwood Stadium, with former Sittingbourne man, Dean Hill coming through unscathed following injury.

But Ward knows how much of a tough task knocking out Nationwide Conference North outfit Nuneaton Borough is, especially with them third in the table.

"I went to Tiverton for the replay," revealed the Scotsman.  "I learnt they are very good, probably the best side I've played against as a manager.  They've had some big days, (they're) very strong, very organised and have some quality players."

"They've let in seven goals in the league all season.  Can we beat them?  Like I say we'll have to be right at the top of our game.

"We like to hope the mentality thing kicks in.  They're at home and are only playing against the minnows left in the FA Cup and if they do that they'll have problems," warned the manager.

At least 200 Rams fans are making the journey up north - and so is Kent football's number one website www.kentishfootball.co.uk as we hope Ward's heores secure a place in the second round.

"We go away to Banstead tomorrow then we travel to Nuneaton - the coaches are doing well with over 200 fans going at the moment and then the Saturday after we've got AFC Wimbledon at home in the FA Trophy.

"It's the biggest fortnight in my football history and the biggest fortnight in Ramsgate's history."

Ramsgate's players, however, won't be getting the special treatment on their big occasion of the season - but that's the way they want it.

"The players want the same routine," revealed Ward.  "We'll have a light training session on Thursday, we'll have an early leave on Saturday morning and we'll stop for a bit of lunch and do what we've done for all the other FA Cup games.

"That's what the players want to do.  I asked them what they wanted to do and that is what they want.

So how can the Rams earn a place in the second round of the FA Cup - and just win away from a trip to Old Trafford, Stamford Bridge or Highbury.

"Again the big players have to be big - we've got to be good right down the middle, we've got to be good everywhere," admitted Ward.

"Somebody's got to produce something special and what we've got to do is we don't have to wait for somebody else doing it.  We've got to take responsibility as individuals to make sure it does happen for Ramsgate.

"I've been saying it all season, is there a better club to be at? I don't know!

"We've already surpassed ours and everybody else's expectations, so we just live for the day and just see where it takes us.

"Nuneaton are red hot favourites," admitted the former Maidstone United manager.   "We go into the game as big underdogs.  Again, like I say, everything has got to go right for us, and let's hope a few things go wrong for them," added an excited Ward.

Nuneaton Borough v Ramsgate
FA Cup First Round
Saturday 5th November 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Manor Park, Beaumont Road, Warwickshire CV11 5HD