Rule one of animal photography - never stand behind the beast.

by Noel Draper

Some of you may remember that I was given Ramsgate FC by 3for3 as my non league team of non choice a few months ago. Ever since I have watched from afar as their season spluttered to its inevitable disappointing finish leading to mid table obscurity. This is what usually happens when I put my support behind a team. Or is it? My support has only been for a couple of months so maybe they are punching above their weight and the league position they finished in was actually a source of constant joy to the die hard supporters. I decided to ask a real fan for his view on the season.

I then realised that they are nicknamed “The Rams” which is the same as my brother’s lifelong obsession. No, not sheep but Derby County, who have also just finished a football season. What a coincidence.

Could two teams with the same nickname but separated by six leagues have had similar seasons? Could their supporters, schooled in different parts of the country, hold a pen long enough to reply to my questions? There seemed only one way to find out.

In the White corner, supporting the once really good in the 70’s Derby County, weighing in at 60kg, is my brother Tim. In the red corner, supporting the best team in Kent if you discount Gillingham, is life long Ramsgate supporter and chairman of the supporters association, Mick. Let the questions begin.

What were your pre seasons expectations and were they met?

Derby Expectations for this season weren’t that high but we did expect a vast improvement from the previous season. We are clearly not ready for a top six finish so at the start of the season I predicted that we would end up in 10th place. We finished in 12th but only a couple of points away from 10th so pretty much on the mark. With such a young squad and with a lot of new players consistency was always going to be an issue with us. We won our first 4 games but then lost a couple, won a couple, went on a run where we couldn’t buy a win before winning some more on the trot. It was that kind of up and down season but ultimately it ended up positive. As our squad matures the consistency will be much better.

Ramsgate – 2011/12 pre-season expectations were play offs at the very least. This was due to our fantastic run of form at the end of the previous season and we all thought that it would continue. Unfortunately this didn’t happen so no, our expectations were not met. We still didn’t have a clue about what our team would be after the friendlies had finished and this showed in our first few games of the season.

Who was your player of the season?

Derby Player of the season for me was Jason Shackell who played every game and was pretty solid throughout. The good news is we turned down a bid of 1.5 million for him so he must have done something right! Craig Bryson has run him close though, he’s done well and managed to bag a call up to the Scotland squad. Other player highlights were the emergence of some rather good academy talent and some other youngsters that we have brought in. Players like Jeff Hendrick and Callum Bell. Keep an eye out for Mason Bennett next season as well, he’s only 15!

Ramsgate – Our Player of the Season was Liam Quinn. In every game he played for us, Liam showed the Ramsgate fighting spirit. Unfortunately Liam has now left the club.

Who has been this season’s best buy?

Derby Jason Shackell or Craig Bryson surprisingly.

Ramsgate – Buy of the year has to be Ian Pulman. He scored all our goals this season and put in some great performances. Unfortunately he is another player who has since left the club.

What has been this season’s best moment?

Derby – Beating Forest at the City ground after being 1-0 down and having our goalkeeper sent off after just 5 minutes!

Ramsgate – My best moment(s) have to be the away days, which are full of loads of beer and great laughs. As far as games go then the best and most exciting game was our 4-3 home win against Worthing.

Worst moment?

Derby There isn’t one stand out worst moment but a run of only picking up 2 points in 7 games was disappointing. After beating Coventry 1-0 we were sitting nicely in 8th, 2 points from 5th placed Reading. I wonder what happened to them?

Ramsgate – The worst moment was losing 7-2 at home to Needham Market in the FA Trophy.

Future wishes and fears?

Derby I just hope for more improvement, more consistency and a 20 goal striker would be much appreciated! I predict another slightly less up and down season and hopefully a finishing position that means we are knocking on the door of the play offs. Maybe even sneaking into 6th place.

Ramsgate – The club sacked the manager with 2 games of the season to go and installed Tim Dixon which has improved the spirit of the club so hopefully a good season is on the way. He has brought back Dean Hill and made him club captain which is excellent news because in my opinion Dean is one of the best ever players Ramsgate have had. We are all looking forward to the new season although with a new manager it will probably take time for everything to gel.

So there we have it. Two teams with the same nickname who have both, in the supporters own admission, had average and slightly disappointing seasons but are full of upbeat aspirations for the future. I would like to thank Tim and Mick for their answers and wish both clubs a fantastic new season, especially Ramsgate, who I will get to see in the near future. A promise is a promise!