PMT final preview: interview with Ric Blank
Ahead of the biggest game in Oakwood's history, Danny Caro speaks to joint-manager Ric Blank.
DC: With the Division One title already in the bag, what are your thoughts on the season so far?
RB: "This season has exceeded even our wildest expectations. We started well enough before losing three out of four games in the league. This was followed by an incredible 13-game winning streak in both the league and Peter Morrison. In the league we started December nine points behind Redbridge and seven points behind Norstar. By the end of January we were top and did not look back.
In that time we beat some very good teams including Brixton, South, Redbridge and Leeds and looked better and better as the season went on. Eventually we were comfortable and won the title with games to spare. Amongst all that was a cup run that rather snuck up on us. The game against Leeds gave the boys a taste for big games and now we can’t wait for the final, just happy to be part of the occasion."
DC: What do you know about Sunday's opponents, Hendon?
RB: "I've seen Hendon play and I've been very impressed. I know a few of their boys and they’re a really good team who are obviously huge favourites for the final. They will fancy themselves too given some of the quality they have available. I know Greg (Corin) very well and I’m certain Motti (Colman) will be flying back for the game. But they’ve got quality all over the park and are obviously the team to beat. It’s a great test for us with next season in mind. We will be playing teams of Hendon’s quality week-in week-out so it’s a great opportunity to see what we’re capable of."
DC: Where do you think the game will be won and lost?
RB - "Hendon are huge favourites. It’s been pointed out to me countless times how big the pitch is and how that will suit Hendon down to the ground. They’re a fit side and we’re a Division One side and, with all due respect to previous opponents, we haven’t played a team with Hendon’s credentials. We’re just delighted to be part of such a great occasion and the boys are determined to enjoy themselves. They want to prove they can compete with the best and this is the perfect opportunity to do so.
"All our players have to put in 10 out of 10 performances, otherwise we’ll be chasing shadows on such a big pitch. When the season began we could never have imagined being at Wingate and it’s a just reward for our efforts and the character of all the boys."