SHEERWATER FC manager Pete Ruggles is the first to admit that he is no Sir Alex Ferguson in the hierarchy of football management, but time is on his side, Andy Fitzsimons.
At 28, most player managers wouldn’t think twice about swiftly jotting their name on the team sheet, but for Ruggles, his team comes first over his own personal goals.
In the absence of a chairman and a sugar daddy to fund the running of the Combined Counties League Division One club, Ruggles is certainly up against it when it comes to trying to compete with others on a level playing field. However, he is not one to underestimate the power of team bonding and old-fashioned tactics to help generate the best results.
He said: “We’re much stronger in terms of depth than we were last season – and we’ve still managed to attract good calibre players without having any financial resource.
“While we had gone off the boil for a few matches, I’ve been impressed by the way we have improved. After last season, I believed we were capable of a mid-table finish in 2017, and our current league position confirms that.
“For me, it’s not just about the team you put out on a Saturday, but the ethos and feel-good factor around the whole club; from the reserves to the first team. It all counts,” he added.
Following The Sheers’ 3-0 home win against Staines Lammas in-between Christmas and New Year, Ruggles is confident that his players can reignite their early season form to hold their own in the top half of the table. Anything over and above that would undoubtedly be considered to be an overachievement based on the current resources available.
With 10 wins, three draws and 10 defeats to their name to date, Ruggles knows that consistency is key in future years if Sheerwater are to make transition from step 6 to step 5 in the non-league football pyramid and complete with the likes of Knaphill and Westfield. But anything is possible with the Ruggles at the helm and the right infrastructure.
He said: “Every club has a bad spell; unfortunately for us, our spell was longer than we would have liked in the run up to Christmas.
“I would be worried if the performances where not there, but with the exception of a couple of games, our performances haven’t been too bad. As long we keep performing to the best of our ability, we will get back on track.
“When we played Staines Lammas last week, we won without the likes of top scorer Shane Rideout, Mark Tyler, Andy
Rothwell, Toni Perry and Jamal Rodney, which shows the strength in-depth we have this season.
“We’ve recently signed Jordan Anderson (ex-Cobham) and former Sutton United and ex-Sheerwater goalkeeper Ricky Borrett too. These were necessary after losing Matt Fairbrother to Horley Town and goalkeeper Andy Rider being ruled out of action for two months with a hand injury,” added Ruggles.
Compared to a lot of football managers, Ruggles’ management style could be considered to be slightly unorthodox, but the Sheers’ boss remains intent on treating players as people rather than wild animals.
“I’ve played under a fair few managers and coaches in my time and I’ve taken the best bits from each, as well as having my own style.
“I like to treat my players as people rather than shouting and screaming if things go wrong. I feel it’s ok to raise your voice and shout once in a while, but it shouldn’t be the norm.
“It’s important to take a step back and remember the level of football that you’re playing at and the type of players that you’re working with. It’s a learning curve for everyone, so I’m always open to adapting and learning new skills that go hand in hand with football management.
“I’m a little bit old fashioned: I believe in team bonding, training twice a week and fines. It’s also about having a group of
players who want to work for each other and are prepared to be a team player. That’s what makes this club tick and will help it to grow in stature,” explained Ruggles.
Away from the technical area, the Sheers’ boss also wanted to pay homage to club secretary Trevor Wenden, whose long
services to the Woking-based club have been nothing short of exceptional.
“Trevor is Mr. Sheerwater,” said Ruggles. “Without Trevor, this club simply wouldn’t be around. I have no higher praise for him and his backroom colleagues who help make Sheerwater Football Club what it is today.”
- This Saturday [7 January], Ruggles is hoping to have a welcome selection problem when his side travel to Chessington & Hook United, who they beat 1-0 at the Sheerwater
Recreation Ground earlier in the season.