Rams capture Londoner Waugh - EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW
Ramsgate boss Jim Ward has made his first summer signing enticing Warren Waugh to join the Ryman League Division One champions, writes Stephen McCartney.
The 25-year-old, who lives in Willesden, impressed the Rams boss when the former Exeter City, Cambridge City, Crawley Town and Carshalton Athletic striker was playing for Leatherhead during the season just ended.
“Well he really impressed us when we played Leatherhead,” revealed Ward. “His work-rate is what we apply ourselves at Ramsgate. He’s a strapping six foot two guy and he’s just generally a really good centre forward. He can also play wide”
Ward revealed he hasn’t spoken to his chairman Richard Lawson about their Ryman Premier League campaign - but did reveal his expectations.
“I haven’t let anybody go, I’ve no real views on that at the moment,” said Ward. “I have to still sit down with the chairman to identify next year’s budget but Warren was just one lad we signalled out.
“We are talking to other people, no more than I do all during the season. I never stop. We can’t afford to stop. We’re just chuffed to get him.”
With many fans expecting the Rams to endure a tough campaign at the higher level next season, the Scot has high hopes for his side.
“We will set targets again,” he said. “But people might laugh but they laughed last year. This year our aim will be the play-off’s or automatic promotion.”
But Ward insists there is enough local talent to come through on the conveyor belt to continue the club’s rapid rise through the leagues.
“We haven’t got the resources the other clubs have got but the big resource we’ve got is 85-90% of my players live in Thanet. That is our biggest advantage.
“We’ve got 23 teams at the club and there’s also Thanet itself which is one of the strongest youth sections in Kent.
“I’ve given medals at two different venues this week at the Wintergardens in Margate and when all these lads get to 16,17 or 18 they’ve got to go someplace and that’s where we see more talent coming through.”
Ward and his side are returning to pre-season training on Saturday, 1st July, and have already arranged three pre-season friendlies against Chatham Town, Whitstable Town and Horsham YMCA.
The club are currently in discussions with Gillingham and Stevenage Borough about coming to Southwood Stadium and Ward wants to hear from any club that want to take on the Ryman Division One champions.
The club have already worked on the playing surface at Southwood Stadium, and Ward said: “We always start training on the first Saturday in July. This year it’s the 1st July.
“The players will all be allowed two or three Saturday’s to go and do what they want to do, even if there’s a game on. If they want the Saturday off they will be able to rest or enjoy themselves in anyway.
“At every club we’ve been at we’ve always been ready in August. I’ve always been lucky enough to have good cup runs but we like to get our lads nice and fit. We’ve got certain ways - it’s always worked in the past so why change it now?
For those fans speculating on players’ futures on internet forums, Ward revealed: “I haven’t even sat down with players as most of them are on contract. All that will be settled in two weeks - but who will want to leave Ramsgate Football Club?
Ward would like to tackle Kent sides in pre-season matches at Southwood Stadium, and he added: “Does anyone want to play the Ryman League champions?
“The pitch will be beautiful as it’s been re-laid. The Ramsgate bobble may disappear by then as we’ve worked on the pitch.”
Ward was, however, a very proud man after winning the manager of the year award from the Ryman League - despite not collecting an award during the course of the season.
He said: “Fair play to the Ryman League. Everything was done statistically. We haven’t won any awards but we were always knocking on the door but obviously getting manager of the year means we knocked on the door more than anybody else.
“It’s a great honour and it reflects on, not only my coaching staff and Danny my brother, but also the fine players I’ve got at Ramsgate Football Club.
“The big difference this year with Ramsgate Football Club is we’re another year stronger. Not only in the playing staff but the backroom staff.
“Everybody learnt an awful lot being in a more senior level last year and no doubt we’ll learn even more this year.”
RAMSGATE HAVE ARRANGED THREE PRE-SEASON FRIENDLIES:
Saturday, 15th July (H) Chatham Town
Thursday, 3rd August (H) Whitstable Town
Saturday, 5th August (a) Horsham YMCA