Ottery St Mary chairman speaks about the way ahead - and the season just gone
PUBLISHED: 09:36 31 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:36 31 May 2019
The season at Ottery St Mary Football Club may be over in terms of the on-pitch action from the men's, ladies' and youth teams, but the work is far from over with the awards night a week on Saturday (June 8) and the annual youth tournament being held over the weekend of June 22 and 23.
One highly impressive 'reveal' by the club recently has been the amount of money they have raised for charity of late.
Indeed, from May 2018 to the end of April 2019, the final figure raised was £3,944!
Chairman Mike Ringer says: "The club's main charity, in terms of our support, is Hospiscare, which has so much meaning for the club, and they will continue to be the main charity for next season. In addition to that, the ladies' games will be raising funds for breast cancer, which also means an awful lot to players of the club. I am so grateful to everyone, be they a match attendee, a programme buyer or simply someone who supports our regular charity bingo at the club; you have all been magnificent and I thank you for your continued support."
So, what of the chairman's work now the final ball has been kicked in the regular campaign?
The Ottery chairman says: "The chairman's work is never done! It's an old cliché, but when the ball stops being kicked in anger, that's when the real work begins! That said we are not ones to sit on our heels here at Washbrook Meadow. Far from it and we have been collectively planning for next season for a couple of months now."
One problem the club has had has been with the change in structure further up the pyramid and just how that leaves things 'down the pecking order'.
Mike says: "We simply had to apply for the new step seven leagues! We'd have been stupid not to, considering the facilities we have at the club. Of course we did not do so with any level of expectation that we would be granted the jump in status - particularly given our league's status vis-à-vis other teams that applied. However, whatever happens in the immediate, middle and the long-term future, all of our planning and thinking is towards maintaining the club as a community asset and ensuring that we 'live within our means'.
"Not for me, this craving for 'instant success', that seems to blight not just our sport of football, but many sports these days. Sustainability is what we are always going to be about."
He continued: "I have been involved in this game for a long time now, first as a player, then a coach and a manager before now being a chairman. Yes, I have worked with big budgets for players, but not at this level. It is vitally important that we see ourselves as caretakers of a club that is very much part of, and belongs to, the community. Football for all is something I am very keen to be associated with."
The Ottery youth tournament is being held later in June, and the club chairman says: "We have more teams entered this year than we had last year and it gives me a great deal of satisfaction - not to mention immense pride - when I see just how many youngsters come to play football here over that weekend and all clearly enjoying what they are doing."
So looking back on the 2018/19 campaign, what is the chairman's overall take on things?
He says: "I cannot say I was not disappointed with the way it all ended. To see the hard work the players had put in over many months, slip away in the closing weeks was so disappointing. Of course I have private views on the matter, but they are not for airing publicly. What I am happy to stand by saying is that I am so proud of each and everyone of the players who pulled, the shirt on in the season - they gave us their all and I am truly grateful to them for that."
Mike Ringer is also the head coach of the Ottery ladies of whom he says: "The ladies team have a very special place in my heart. They have done so well this past season. I have watched them develop and grow from a team of 16-year-olds into what are now a group of young ladies and each year they seem to give that little bit extra.
"They are such a willing bunch and for them to achieve the runners-up spot was the proverbial 'icing on then cake'. As for what comes next with our fabulous ladies, well, we must wait for the various constitutions of leagues to be announced but we will, as a team and a club, face whatever challenges come our way in the spirited fashion we have over the past few years. This ladies team at Ottery, like the wider club, is on a journey to bigger and better things."
Next, the chairman tuned his attention to the youth section of the club. He said: "Well, to use a single word - wow! - what that youth section of ours does, is amazing! They are so focussed on working together and helping each other along. It fills me with great pride when I see some of our senior players taking in club youth matches and clearly supporting the junior teams.
"That is exactly what I had hoped for when I first got involved with this football club. I want to us as one big footballing family and the work behind the scenes that the sections do has to be seen to be believed.
The cup final in which our Under-13s, as underdogs, came through in style to win, was a joyous moment and one that was clearly shared by other sections of the club.
"It is wonderful that or youth section have all made real progress over the past season - and all the time with a smile on faces."
So, now we put to the chairman that all-important question of: "And where, in 12 months time, would you like the club to be?
He replied: "Like any chairman worth their salt, of course I shall have targets in mind, but overall, and over and above anything else, I passionately want the club to continue clear growth on and off the pitch whilst also ensuring that the foundations of the club remain of a sound and solid nature.
"A great man and mentor to me once said 'he climbed the mountain first to see what lay ahead whilst we climbed behind, seeing the vision and, by the time we had reached the summit, he was onto the next mountain to build the future for us all and make sure nothing stood in our way'. Yes, for me it is all about the long term. This club has been here for 100 years and I see it very much as my job right now to ensure it's with us for the next 100 years as a big asset to our community."