Ward reflects on Ramsgate's "sensational" year
|Christmas time is all about reflecting
on the previous twelve months and looking to improve matters in the New
Year, and that's exactly the mood in the Ramsgate camp over this festive
period, writes Stephen McCartney.
Proud to be labeled as "just a pub team from Thanet," the Rams have taken to Ryman League football with the same team spirit that has taken the club out of the Kent League, into the first round proper of the FA Cup and into the top four of the Ryman League first division - and manager Jim Ward wants more.
The former Maidstone United manager told www.ramsgate-fc.co.uk:
"I had a good chat with all the players after Saturday's game (a 3-1 win over Metropolitan Police at Southwood Stadium) and I said: "Do you want to go ahead and win this title or at least give yourselves a good shot at it?"
And they all said "yes". So I said : "OK, what we'll do we'll train Tuesday and Thursday, and have the weekend off to get Christmas done and dusted, but just look after yourselves a bit on Christmas Day and don't have the extra bit of pudding," because the Dover game is massive."
Ward takes his side to Crabble to take on Dover Athletic on Boxing Day - a fixture Ward couldn't envisage when his side were tackling Kent League clubs in front of small attendances.
"If you'd told me two years ago that Ramsgate would be going down to Crabble on Boxing Day, five points clear albeit that they've got two games in hand, nobody would have believed you - they'd put you in the loony bin," said the proud Scot.
And Ward praised the work ethic from everyone at Southwood Stadium, that are enjoying a wonderful campaign, which included a trip to Nationwide Conference North outfit Nuneaton Borough in the first round proper of the FA Cup, where they lost 2-0.
"Ramsgate itself as a club has come on fantastically, not just the football side but the whole club has come on," he said.
"From the chairman (Richard Lawson) right down to Sarah the catering manager, the whole thing's great.
"And the crowds - Ramsgate never used to have these crowds, certainly not the last shopping Saturday before Christmas, reputedly the worse attendance day and with the (cold) weather on top.
"But look at all the people who've supported us - really, really good. I'd like to thank everyone associated with Ramsgate Football Club, starting with the chairman, for 12 months that have been absolutely sensational.
"In my football career I've never matched this before what we've done and the players and the committee, and everybody should give themselves a great big pat on the back.
"Of course the last 12 months have been so exciting. It has been gratifying that loads and loads of things have been really positive at this football club.
"Right from getting the promotion, doing the double, the great FA Cup run. It's very difficult to find fault.
"If anybody says to you what's the most disappointing thing in the last 12 months of football - is nothing at all.
"There is nothing that anyone, from the players, the chairman, the committee, there's nothing that anybody else could have done better.
"So I think everyone should reflect on the season and give themselves a pat on the pack.
"I've never won anything at Christmas before and, as I said the players, the next step is to move forward now and let's see what we can do in the next two games."
Promotion rivals Tonbridge Angels visit Southwood Stadium on 2nd January (3pm).
Dover Athletic v Ramsgate
Ryman League Division One
Monday 26th December 2005
Kick Off 3:00pm
at Crabble, Lewisham Road, River, Dover