New Ottery St Mary boss Billy Rouse targets a bright and exciting future for the club

Billy Rouse with the Morrison Bell Cup in the dressing room at Ottery St Mary after his sides 2019 f

Billy Rouse with the Morrison Bell Cup in the dressing room at Ottery St Mary after his sides 2019 final success against Sidmouth Town. Picture: BR - Credit: Archant

The new manager at Ottery St Mary is Billy Rouse who, until a couple of weeks ago was in charge of one of the top teams in the Macron Devon & Exeter League premier Division.

As boss of Cronies, Rouse led the side to umpteen titles and cup wins. When the Coronavirus pandemic cause a whole sale shut down of football, Cronies sat fourth in the Macron League Premier Division table having won 11 out of their 13 top flight games.

Their one defeat this league season had been a 5-1 loss to Lapford while the only other game they had not won was, ironically the last game they played before the shut down - a 2-2 draw with Beer Albion.

Had the season run its course then it is highly likely that Rouse and his team would have been challenging for the top honour given that they sat 15 points shy of leaders Okehampton who had played six games more than them and they still had them to play home and way in the closing months of the campaign!

On April 18, Cronies issued a statement that announced they were closing their club owing to footballing and administrative reasons, Cronies FC will no longer compete in the Devon & Exeter Football League.

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Ottery chairman Mikey Ringer, who had been looking for a manger to take over the reigns at Washbrook Meadow, was quick to make contact.

Billy says: “It was a very tough decision to fold Cronies. We were arguably the most successful side in the Devon and Exeter league over a period of seven season, but unfortunately our tenancy at Topsham Town was not being renewed and we found it hard to find a new home.”

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He continued: “I had harboured a long-standing passion to take Cronies through the divisions to the pinnacle of the Macron Devon & Exeter League and we achieved that and were making a good fist of a Premier Division title challenge this time round when the Covid-19 crisis struck. However, it was fair to say that, as a team without a regular home, we clearly had reached our ceiling.

“When I had the call from Mike [Ottery chairman Mikey Ringer], I knew it was too good an opportunity to turn down.

“In football terms Ottery are a sleeping giant and Mike has the ambition to take the club back to where they should be.

“The ground at Washbrook Meadows is one we, at Cronies, have always admired as it’s a nice big surface, with floodlights, a grandstand and a nice clubhouse - everything I dreamed of having for us at Cronies!

“With all of this in place it gives me a great platform to start from and I know we can achieve great things at Ottery.”

Next, we asked the new man what sort of changes might be needed at his new club.

He responded saying: “Well, given they finished this now written off season sitting second bottom there’s plenty to work on and with. I shall be looking to make a big improvement on that second bottom spot.

“From a personal point of view, I have always wanted to compete for trophies and I believe I am capable of assembling a squad that can make a serious assault on that league [The Scott Richards Solicitor’s Devon League, South & West Division).

“I’m excited by the challenge of facing new teams in that division. It will certainly be nice to visit some different grounds and face clubs that I am not used to coming up against.”

We wrapped up our first chat with the new Ottery boss by asking him where, in 12 months’ time, he hoped he and the club might be.

He was quick to answer saying: “Life is pretty surreal just now and I just hope everyone continues to do what they need to ensure they, and their families, stay safe.

“of course, at some stage, football will return and, if we are lucky enough to get a new season started and finished then, 12 months down the road certainly like to think that we’d be challenging for promotion to Step Six.”

He added: “That has to be the end goal for everyone involved at the club. The facilities at Washbrook Meadow are simply far too good to be sat still. I see the club very much as a community led one and I’d like to think the local community will get behind us and we can draw some decent turnouts to Washbrook Meadow. For our part, as a team, we will endeavour to play a brand of quality football that will being the supporters out. Hopefully we can get back out their soon as I’m ready to go right now!”

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