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Former Ramsgate manager Jim Ward sees the class of 2023 emulate his side’s 2005 FA Cup success

Jim Ward - the last man to take Ramsgate to the FA Cup First Round - is chuffed to see his old club living the dream again.

Ward was in the crowd at AFC Totton on Saturday as Rams emulated his side’s cup heroics of 2005.

Former Ramsgate manager Jim Ward. Picture: Helen Cooper
Former Ramsgate manager Jim Ward. Picture: Helen Cooper

The 72-year-old paid tribute to current boss Ben Smith, who became just the third manager in the club’s history to reach the First Round of the FA Cup.

“It’s history again,” said Ward, whose sister-in-law Pat provided a scouting report on Totton.

“Jimmy Blair did it in 1955, I did it in 2005 and they’ve done it now. I’m ever so pleased.

“This lad is good, Ben Smith. He knows his stuff.

“He’s got a lot of youth involved, a lot of locals involved - the same ethos I had all those years ago.

“I only had one car-load from London, the rest were all Kent and mostly Thanet.

“He’s got the same thing in his head and I think it’s great. I’m so pleased for the boy and the club.

“James Lawson, as chairman, has done great things for this club. He’s brought them forward so far.

“Me and his dad, Richard, did it in our time, and now we’re jealous that James and Ben are doing it.

“The memories are there - I’ve only got to come and watch Ramsgate and I get told about it - but it’s not about me, it’s about the club.”

Ramsgate lost 2-0 at Nuneaton Borough - then riding high at the top of Conference North - under Ward.

They went on to win the Isthmian Division 1 championship and the Scot is backing Smith’s side to land the equivalent South East Division title this season.

“When I look at the squad here, forget the FA Cup and the FA Trophy, which they’ve done brilliantly in, I think they’ll walk away with this league,” said Ward.

“They’re so strong all around the place. If one laddie has a bad game, he takes him off.

“He’s not frightened to take anyone off and they all know that. Everyone knows the score.

“Fair play to them. I’m ever so chuffed for them.”

Joe Taylor scored Ramsgate’s winner at Totton, having seen a first-half penalty saved.

Ward gave Taylor his Rams debut as a teenager during the striker’s first spell at Southwood and also managed him at Sittingbourne.

He’s a different player these days.

“I know he mentioned me but it was Tony Russell (Taylor’s boss at Cray and Lewes) who really got him fit,” said Ward.

“In my day you wouldn’t see him running across and shutting full-backs and centre-halves down.

“Now it’s part of his make-up.

“He knows he needs that in his game and he’s doing it to perfection.

“A lot of players, after missing that penalty, would have gone into their shell but he didn’t.

“He carried on doing what he was doing and I’m so pleased to see him get that goal.

“It was a great goal - it’s his calmness.

“He hustled the guy off the ball and just chipped the keeper.

“The keeper sold himself but it’s a fantastic finish.”

Ramsgate will host the winners of tonight’s replay between Hemel Hempstead and Woking in the First Round.

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