Ric Blank steps down as manager of Oakwood A

Ric Blank insists now is the right time to step down as joint-manager of Oakwood A following 11 successful years at the helm.


Blank, who shared duties with Dan Kristall, this season – they currently lead the MGBSFL Premier Division and will be crowned champions if Redbridge fail to win all their remaining matches – guided the Oaks to two cup finals following a spell as C-team boss when he first arrived from Manchester.

In a statement released soon after the 6-3 win over Lions, Blank told JC Sport: “After 11 fantastic years, yesterday was my final game in charge of Oakwood.

“It’s hard to put into words what this experience has meant to me. The memories, the friends, the winning and the losing - it's been such an important part of my life.

“Football is an addiction to many of us and Sunday football the drug. I am no different. As a boy my weekends were: Saturday at Old Trafford, Sunday at Hough End playing for South. When I moved to London there was a gap that needed filling. That proved to be Oakwood. When Jonny Beilin and I took over the ailing Oakwood C team I had no idea the adventure that lay ahead.

“I couldn't have conceived of the people I'd meet, the friends I'd make, the stories I'd be able to tell. And I'd have laughed if you'd have said one day we'd be one of the best Jewish sides in the country. But we are. 

“I’ve experienced highs and lows on the pitch - the lost cup finals and the particularly cruel last second defeat to a fine Raiders side in an Anekstein semi-final stand out. But I’ve never lost sight of what we've achieved - above and beyond any other club.

“We’ve grown, we’ve improved, we’ve stuck together. We’ve never wavered from our ethos. A tougher, quicker, more hard-working side you will struggle to find.

“My message to anyone who ever played for me was simple - soldier for me, I’ll soldier for you. If you put the team first you had a home at Oakwood. I’ve had hundreds of boys play for me over the years and if I managed to influence them just a little bit then I know I did a good job.”

Blank says he will look back on the job he has done with pride. “That spirit has permeated through the club. And it’s the reason I feel confident to step aside now, after all these years. 

“No man is an island and I certainly did not do it all on my own. I have to thank above all else Jonny Beilin, Alex Schock and Dan Kristall - my three joint-managers who had to deal with my demanding, impatient personality not mention my fierce competitive streak. They were all rocks. Also Jason Stein and Ian Tussie for their tours de force with the Bs.

“And finally, Gary Bloch and Eddie Manson who helped take the club to another level on and off the pitch. I’d like to thank the JC and Danny Caro in particular for the coverage and commitment to this league of ours. It would be nothing without it.”

Describing how he will he look back on his tenure, Blank added: “Nothing lasts forever. When I began I was a 24-year-old boy with nothing more than a love for the game. I leave as a father with a few grey hairs still in love with this beautiful game.

“People who don’t play Sunday League will never understand the adrenalin, the passion, the tears - that feeling when Leor Sidle scores a 91st minute winner at Hendon, or Quinny equalises at Wingate in the 119th minute. The changing room after we beat Neasden or knocked Raiders out of the Morrison.

“If I shut my eyes I can still feel the walls vibrate as we sang the changing room down. If you haven’t done it you won't understand the feeling of scoring a late winner for the team you love in Division Three or going up to Manchester to beat your childhood club in front of people you’ve known your whole life.

“Even now I think back to some of those moments and the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. My heart beats faster and I relive those moments. People asked how or why I did it for so long - there is your answer.

“It’s the right time for me to move on with my life and spend more time with my boy teaching him about the game I love.

“Whether he shares my passion only time will tell. But don’t discount the possibility of an Oakwood juniors side featuring Louis Blank, Seb Schock, Wolf Kintish, Zevi Manson and many more in the not too distant future.

“This has been a part of my life I’ll never forget. Never say never....but for now it’s over. I truly believe we are the best of all the Jews in all the land. My challenge to the boys is to prove it. I will be in the crowd celebrating when they do.”

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