Thursday, 17 May 2012

TWINTERVIEW: Mark Ricketts

It's fair to say Mark Ricketts has had very little good luck as far as injuries are concerned. On loan at Milton Keynes Dons in the early stages of his professional career, he suffered knee ligament damage. A move into non-league with Ebbsfleet United was then interrupted by more knee troubles. Ricketts recovered in time to lift the FA Trophy at Wembley in 2008 and a year later left the Fleet to join Woking. Appointed club captain in 2010, the 27-year-old had led the Cards to the top of Conference South before misfortune struck again. This time, Ricketts had his leg broken during a 3-2 win at the home of title rivals Dartford. Woking went on to win promotion, but Ricketts would play no further part in the campaign.

Despite these setbacks, the midfielder's stock remains high. Respected in north Kent as much as he is treasured in west Surrey, Ricketts will once again be a Conference Premier player in 2012/13. Here's hoping pre-season doesn't hold any more demons.

First up, give us an update on your leg - how far along the recovery road are you?

Leg is feeling really good, doing a lot of strength work on it in the gym. Going to do some running next week. Just taking it slow!

I covered that game at Dartford back in December. Did you know straight away it was a bad one?

Yeah, I knew it was bad one, I was in a lot of pain. Then, when I stood up, I could feel a click with every step.

Season ended well for the club - but did that time on the sidelines take any of the shine off promotion for you?

It was certainly a tough time for me, but winning the league still meant a lot to me and I felt proud to be part of the team.

What's your earliest memory of football?

My earliest memory of football would be playing football in my back garden, kicking balls at my dad in goal!

Having played in both divisions, how big is the jump from Conference South to Conference Premier?

There's definitely a jump. There is less room for mistakes as teams will punish you, whereas you might get away with one or two in Conference South. Last year's teams that went up coped very well [Braintree finished 12th, Ebbsfleet 14th] and we certainly have a group of more than capable players.

Who are you most looking forward to playing next season? And what do you think Woking are capable of?

I'm looking forward to playing Ebbsfleet as I loved my time there and there's a lot of really good people around the club. If Luton are still in the league that will be a great game too. I think we are capable of doing really well, we have lots of good players here and it will be interesting to see what other players are brought in to add to the quality.

Your Twitter biog tells us you're a music lover, so what should we be listening to at the moment?

I listen to all sorts of music from country to R&B, but the Alabama Shakes have a good album right now.

Who are you best friends in football? And the best players you've played with and against?

Neil Barrett, Stacy Long and Dean Pooley are my best mates in football. Best players played with would be Paulo di Canio, Scott Parker and Harry Arter. Best player played against - Robin van Persie!

What's the best game you've played in?

There's been lots of great games but the best I've played in would probably be Brighton at home in the FA Cup last year!

Woking, then managed by Graham Baker, were labouring in the lower reaches of Conference South but had managed to hold the League One leaders to a goalless draw on their own patch. The replay was another famous cup night at Kingfield. Click the link above to see what happened.

Roy Hodgson as England manager - good appointment or not?

Roy Hodgson was definitely a surprise appointment, but he has a ton of experience and I'm sure he will do well.

You mentioned Ebbsfleet... Tell us how you look back on your time at Stonebridge Road.

My time at Stonebridge Road was good fun and we were quite successful as well. It's a great club and all the people that work there are fantastic. Very similar to Woking!

How hot do you have your chicken at Nando's?

I always have my Nando's medium, but that spice still gets me sometimes!

Are you coming down with Olympic fever yet?

To be honest the Olympics aren't really interesting me that much at the moment. Maybe I'll get the bug nearer the time!

You've spent most of your career with two clubs. How are Woking and Ebbsfleet similar, and how are they different?

Woking and Ebbsfleet are similar in the fact they are both family clubs with a lot of people working for them who genuinely care about their club. There's not too many differences really. Hopefully we will finish above them though!

Where do you think the team needs strengthening over the summer? Was there one opposition player who caught your eye in Conference South?

It's hard to say where we need to strengthen, I guess it depends on who else we can keep. Maybe a permanent left-back and a creative midfielder. Oh and a left-sided centre-half who doesn't get bullied! Only joking Adam Doyle! As for opposition players that stood out, there were a few but I thought the tall centre-half for Truro looked very good at our place.

Finally, you've got one tweet to tell the world about Woking Football Club. Go...

Woking is a family club with big ambitions. It has a fantastic history and is keen to add more to it. The fans are the best.

You can follow @Ricko707 on Twitter

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