Ottery St Mary chairman looks to a very bright future for the Otters
- Credit: Archant
Ottery St Mary Football Club chairman Mike Ringer is most certainly a ‘man who does’ and also a ‘man who can’, writes Steve Birley.
He is very much a ‘hands-on’ chairman at Washbrook Meadow and, two years to the day that he took over at the helm of the Otters, he was pushing a line marker up and down Washbrook Meadow preparing pitches for the second instalment of what is set to be an annual Festival of Youth Football at the club.
If the inaugural competition – held 12 months ago – was a roaring success, then the 2018 version is set to even bigger and so likely to be an even greater success.
Mike took time out from his work preparing things for a busy weekend to chat with us and he began saying: “It will be a busy weekend for sure, but that’s what we all work so hard for to be fully prepared. We anticipate over 800 young footballers spending part of the weekend with us and we want everyone involved over the two days to really enjoy the experience.”
He continued: “What’s more, with this being a World Cup year, we are fortunate enough to have the tournament running on the same day as an England game and that is all being catered for in terms of what we are doing on Sunday.
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“The England v Panama game kicks-off at 1pm and we have a contingency within the playing schedule where teams can take a ‘time-out’ to watch the England game. It certainly ought to make for a great atmosphere on Sunday afternoon in the club.”
In terms of the tournament weekend, the car parking is ‘on site’ and open from 8am on both days with registration of teams taking place from 8.30am to 9.30am with play getting underway both on Saturday and Sunday at 10am.
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On the Saturday the spotlight falls on the Under-7s, 9s, 11s and 13s and the following day it’s the turn of the Under-8s, 10s, 12s and 14s.
The club do wish to emphasise that, on event days such as these two days, the Washbrook Meadow site is a ‘no dogs allowed’ zone.
As well as the football there are plenty of other things going on with the club having a bouncy castle, a barbecue sizzling all day, a sweet stall, hot and cold drinks and the bar will be open from noon on both days.
The Ottery chairman says: “We have eight pitches set with the top pitch being for the younger age groups while the pitches on our main playing area will be for the older age groups.”
Away from the tournament weekend, the Ottery chairman is very content with the progress being made on, and off, the Washbrook Meadow pitch.
A football man of the highest order, Mike Ringer is very experienced in all matters of the game and he is certainly clear about where he wants to take the Otters. Ottery St Mary were members of the Western Football League – they won the Western League Division One title in the 1989-90 season and have also competed in the FA Cup in the past. It’s that sort of level that the Ottery chairman is keen to return to.
He says: “We have a 10-year plan to take this club back to the Western League. To some, that may seem a bold shout given our current status, but football is changing and the Devon and Exeter League is a great place for us to be continuing our current development, but we certainly aspire top play higher – and we will.”
That said, we will not be risking the very being of our club by throwing money at it, but equally that does not mean we lack any sort of ambition, far from it. What we do want to do is make sure that the structure of the club is solid through all levels and, from that steady base, we can look to move on up the football pyramid.
“We currently enjoy a ground grading for step six and there’s only some minor additional work for that to be increased to step five so, in terms of our infrastructure, we are precisely where I thought we needed to be, in terms of the bigger picture going forward when this project started two years ago.”
So how did it all start? Mike says: “When I first came down this way I was looking around and, seeing the floodlights, as you do when a ‘football person’, you tend to think, ‘let’s take a look’ and I was immediately taken by the set-up at the club. Within a couple of months of that first visit to Washbrook Meadow I was talked into managing the ladies’ team and, a few months on, the then committee were at my door to see if I’d like to be the chairman, and the rest, as the saying goes, is history.”
Talking to Mike Ringer, you certainly get the impression he knows where he is going with the Otters – and leaves you in no doubt that he will achieve all his aims with the club! We wish him well.