I expect it to be a good game and I think that we've got to go for it and hopefully there's an upset on the day, says Ramsgate centre-half Joe Ellul

Wednesday 01st November 2023

RAMSGATE centre-half Joe Ellul says he is keen to create a FA Cup First Round upset against Woking on Saturday.

Ellul, 35, played the entire 90 minutes of last night’s FA Trophy First Round defeat at Hythe Town, who reached the Second Round for the first time after beating the Rams 3-1 on a rain lashed night at Reachfields Stadium.

Ramsgate boss Ben Smith decided to play his youth team with Ellul partnering Sinn’kaye Christie at the heart of defence.

Attention now turns to Ramsgate’s first FA Cup First Round tie since 2005.

Ramsgate are in fifth-place in the Isthmian League South East Division table with 15 points from their six games.  They are eight points adrift of surprise leaders Three Bridges, who have played four more games.

Ramsgate’s six match unbeaten run was ended by Steven Watt’s side last night, while Woking arrive on the Kent coast sitting in 12th place in the Vanarama National League table with 22 points from 18 games.

Darren Sarll’s side have lost four of their last six league outings and needed two games to beat Vanrama National League South side Hemel Hempstead Town in The FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round.

Ramsgate, meanwhile, have beaten three higher division sides in The FA Cup this season, including Chatham Town, Cray Wanderers (in a replay) and AFC Totton in the final qualifying round.

“It’s a 50-50 game,” said former Maidstone United and Sittingbourne Ellul.

“They’re coming into it, obviously not in the best form. We’re going into it in good form but they’re coming down from the National League so I expect it to be a good game and I think that we’ve got to go for it. It’s a one-off game, it’s The FA Cup.

“I’ve played in the First Round a few times and it’s a massive achievement to get there, even more so being a side like Ramsgate being at Step Four.

“Ideally you want to get someone massive in the first round but we’ve ended up with Woking and it’s a massive day for the club and sold-out tickets in like 14 hours. 

“It’s going to be an all-round good day and I’m buzzing for Ben Smith and chairman James Lawson and the players because they’ve put themselves in a position to get to where they are now.”

The only time that Ramsgate reached this stage of the competition was Jim Ward’s class of 2005, who lost 2-0 to fellow non-leaguers Nuneaton Borough.

Ward was in the crowd at Reachfields Stadium last night and Ellul is keen to create some history for the club and book their place in the Second Round for the very first time.

“I think it’s our aim. It shouldn’t be this year. I think it should be every year going forward, it should be the aim to get to the first round,” said Ellul.

“We’ve got the quality in depth. We’ve also got young boys in the under 23’s in and around the first team now, so it’s something for them to aim to look to the future and think that’s where I want to be in two years’ time, playing in the first round proper.”

Ellul had this message for the Ramsgate fans on Saturday.

“Be very loud and enjoy the day because it will be a good day all round for the club, for us and for the fans and hopefully there’s an upset on the day.”

Ellul has only been playing in the eighth-tier of English football for the past two seasons, for Sittingbourne and now Ramsgate and has played most of his career in the National League South.

Three sides in the Isthmian League South East Division are involved in FA Cup First Round ties.

Ernie Batten’s Sheppey United host League One side Walsall in a televised clash at Holm Park on Friday night and Cray Valley travel to League One side Charlton Athletic, also live on the box, on Sunday.

When asked about the three sides getting through, Ellul said: “I think it’s the quality of the league. When I look back now from six or six years ago, these levels wasn’t looked at as in good leagues. They were dog and duck and there was no quality in them, but I think it’s got better over the years.

“I think if you look at the National League, it’s basically like League Two and National League South are just progressing. It’s like a domino effect.  The quality in this league is second to none and the three teams that have made it into that are three very good sides so it’s no surprise to me and it's no surprise to many people that you’re seeing three teams from the same league competing in the first round proper and hopefully one of the three have an upset on the cards.”

Woking’s nickname, meanwhile, is The Cards!

Ellul added: “I’m at the later stages of my football career, not that I’m done yet, so it will be a massive achievement (if we win on Saturday) because before I came here I was sort of written off and I had the belief instilled in me again.  I was told that I am good enough and I can do a job and still be able to go out there and perform and lead, so it will be massive for me.

“I’ve said it before to people, it isn’t about me. It isn’t about the players so much, it’s about putting Ramsgate on the map and creating a big buzz around them, which I think we’ve seen.  It’s all about Ramsgate for me and if you ask any of the other boys, you ask Ben, that is the key thing.”

Ramsgate are tipped as title favourites and Eull is keen to meet objectives, once their FA Cup run is over.

“It’s about creating a massive buzz around the club and push us forward to get up the leagues and getting promoted.”

Ramsgate  v  Woking
The Emirates FA Cup First Round
Saturday 4 November 2023
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Prices Avenue, Ramsgate, Kent CT11 0AN