Whitstable Town Joint Manager Jim Ward provides an insight into his brother (Danny Ward) and his early weeks at the Ryman South Club.
Jim started by saying that he has always had an affinity for the Club, its homeliness, its playing surface and the fact that he has always been made welcome to the Club over the years. He has also considered the Club his ‘2nd Club’ obviously behind that that he has managed at the time, but then again its welcome may also be its downfall which is something they are looking to change as they strive to lift the Club onwards & upwards.
Both Jim & Danny share a vision, a vision to take Whitstable as far as they can remembering that other Clubs of a similar size have progressed both on & off the park; take Fleetwood Town for example!
Locally though there are Clubs similar to ours & with similar predicaments, the Wards like the Chairman (Gary Johnson) share that same competitive spirit & desire to win, but realizing of course the need to walk before they run; Whitstable have been walking now for some years within the Ryman League & it’s certainly time to take matters forward something that the Chairman is equally keen to do, but whilst also realizing the financial boundaries. If the Club enjoy success on the pitch then the Wards (and all at the Club) are confident that the Crowds may one day return.
Jim said that his biggest achievement goes back some time, to perhaps 1983 when Broadstairs United won the Thanet Premier League, however since those days such a long time ago, both the Wards have enjoyed greater success & have over the years fantastic memories such as the FA Cup First Round (Ramsgate vs. Nuneaton Borough), Winning promotions with a number of Clubs & of course winning both the Ryman South & the League Cup too, many many fond memories – why can’t we be successful here too?
Meanwhile in their illustrious local career the one thing that sticks in the throat is having reached the last 8 of The FA Vase (again with Ramsgate where much success over the years was experienced, along with other highs & lows too); ex Whitstable player Stuart Vahid suffered a cruciate injury that was to blight his playing career despite his still participating and of course being the player he was for many more years – maybe if Stuart hadn’t have been injured we could have won?
The Ward Brothers are close knit, having worked together for many years; despite which they’re energy & passion for the game is as strong now as it ever has been. Over the years too they have formed many long term alliances & perhaps none more so than that with kit man & confidante Adrian Hubbard (Ada) whom joined the Oystermen earlier this year when the Club really needed some experience in the kit room. But as with all fresh starts new blood is often needed hence they have appointed ‘A’ License Coach Will Graham as First Team Coach & Youth Development Officer. Will himself shares many of their visions but folk must realise he is still young (28) & finding his way but whom so far has produced both variety & interest in the Wards quest to be one of the fittest teams in the league. The Wards have with Will also appointed an U21 Manager (Antonio de Vivo) & further coaching staff although they remain on the lookout for an U18 Manager!
Neither Jim nor Danny has ever coached, they’re not Tracksuit Managers, but they are always there with the Coach’s on the park keeping a close & watchful eye; however they do instruct on the method of play with set pieces most crucial and support their management team with direction and pre-season emphasis on fitness first.
Whilst they have retained the services of many of last terms U21s a number of key First Team players – Scott Heard, Luke Watkins, Jake Mackenzie have committed themselves too and are joined by a number of sought after players at this level such as Ian (Pully) Pulman, Ryan Golding but to name two. Probably two key signings too as goals over the years have been an issue at The Belmont. But Jim Ward was quick to point out they are joined by a nucleus of others whom each have their part to play and last night signed the experienced Peter Wedgeworth. The Brothers demand fitness, camaraderie & passion to be your best so it will be no surprise if yet more signings don’t follow as they state they are always on the lookout to improve upon what they have. They always look to have the edge on others so they remain wide eyed so far as searching for new or experienced talent.
Simon Petit has been made Captain & when asked why, Jim said ‘I’ve known him and hadhim around me for 15 or 16yrs now, he’s reliable & honest, a natural leader & above all I trust him’.
Despite having singled out Pulman & Golding, Ward was quick to reinforce the other key & experienced signings within the team; these will of course be complimented by the emerging talent around the Club and involved on Match days too he shares the Chairman’s view that if your good enough. Your old enough!
Goals though as he said earlier make the difference & it’s in this department that the two previously named players are singled out, so don’t be surprised if you see games with score lines like 3-2 or 4-3 for example, so long as we win!
The immediate objective of both the Wards & the Chairman is simple, to finish higher than the Clubs previous best (14th) since promotion to the Ryman League in 2006; after that we will look to press on, we are after all winners & want to win every match defeat is not taken likely.
However, they have urged fans to share a beer In the Clubhouse after and invited questions but one thing’s for sure it I’ll be a straightforward & honest answer which may of course, not be what you want to hear?!
Turning to the pre-season fixtures, the Wards believe these to be tough; last season Jim commented they won all their pre-season fixtures (at Sittingbourne) but went onto lose their opening & more important league games proving that pre-season really is about fitness & practice. But at least with a tough pre-season it will give all the players a chance to impress & for us to look at everybody against decent opposition: Conference South Whitehawk on the opening Saturday (July 12th) followed by neighbours Herne Bay & then AFC Hornchurch last season’s Ryman Premier divisions play off finalists. Tough games against ‘North’ neighbours Chatham Town, then away to Thamesmead Town before being home once again to SECFL Ashford Town (Saturday August 2nd) one week prior to the season opening. One thing is for sure both us & the supporters will get the measure of the players in pre-season.
Supporters are again encouraged to get behind the team on match days and where you can maybe join together & fund a player? We have a decent budget, but not a big budget so if you think you can help then why not offer your support you never know we might just be able to pull off another signing coup?
Of course, there are many ways to support the Club & the Chairman will be pleased to speak to any supporter whom thinks they can make a financial difference; but don’t forget the lottery, the 50/50 match day draw, player sponsorships absolutely anyway you can help just speak to Gary….your company may want a Board or they may just be willing to help in another way? It’s your chance to make a difference so I say support the team.
In a couple of weeks (Thursday July 17th) there is another chance to Meet the Managers; Jim said its great, all new since last time as we have now made many more signings; come along & ask whatever is on your mind we will be as honest as we can be, but one thing is for sure we’ll keep you informed.
We’re really looking forward to working with all at the Club, from the Chairman to the Tea Ladies, we are desperate to make it happen; we want to give you something to cheer on and I believe our experience is one of the most proven at this level & within this league, but we all need to pull together…..exciting times ahead at The Belmont.
For your chance to watch all Pre-Season fixtures for Free, your urged to buy a season ticket early, for our ‘Early Bird Offer’ see the website for details.
(Jim Ward was speaking to the Clubs website dept.early today).