NORMALLY when a club loses a league game 15-0 and every other game so far this season, they would consider themselves as hitting rock bottom — but not so Ryde Saints.
Ryde Saints currently prop up the rest of Division 1 of the Island League with nine losses from nine games, with an unenviable goal difference of minus 68.
Among their results, they lost 14-0 at last season’s Division 1 champions Shanklin and 10-0 at Bembridge.
It is a continuation of last season’s poor form, which saw them finish second bottom with ten points from 24 games.
The season before that, a very respectable seventh, with ambitions of playing Wessex League football in the not-too-distant future, such was the upward trajectory of the Smallbrook Stadium club.
A lot of Ryde’s poor results came when experienced first team manager, Andy Brown, stepped down to spend more time enjoying his retirement, but who remains a pivotal member of the Saints board.
However, Saints fans are rightly questioning what is happening at one of the Island’s biggest clubs.
Whitecroft and Barton shot to the top of Division 1 when they humiliated Ryde 15-0 on Saturday.
Sam Yelland scored a hat-trick, with braces for Freddie Knowles, Keelan and Aiden Sainsbury, Liam Harper and former Saints striker, Barry Calvert, with Simon Williams and Luke Lambert completing the rout.
Club chairman Jamie Humm, who is Ryde Saints through and through having been a part of the club since its formation in 1995, said: “All defeats and relegation battles are disappointing to an extent, but like a lot of clubs we face a number of on-pitch challenges.
“The main reason why results on the pitch have deteriorated is because we lost a number of players in a short space of time to other clubs who, at the time, were playing a higher level of football.
“It totalled 15 players — many of them from our first team squad. We wished those players well as they moved on and have replaced from within, from our promoted youth players.
“This is why we’ve had to cut our teams down from three to two, so while we would have preferred these players to have developed in the Combination leagues, we currently have little alternative and will continue to support these young players to the best of our ability.
“Also, Covid came at the worst time for the club. Once things got back to normal, many of our players chose not to return.”
Led by Jamie, and a small army of volunteer coaches and committee members, the aim is to improve the club’s infrastructure and make the club financially secure.
There has already been heavy investment in it — more than £100,000 spent on developing its facilities at Smallbrook and Salters Park, in Ryde, over the past six or seven years.
Aligned to that, Jamie believes heavily in the club’s long-standing ethos of taking players at U7 and developing them through its youth system to adults — coaching them well and allowing them to enjoy their football, whatever their level.
When Des Murphy, who remains on the club’s committee, established Ryde Saints as an outlet for teenage boys, he gave them the chance to play and enjoy football, regardless of ability.
The key ingredients were effort, teamwork and commitment. It meant some of the club’s early seasons saw minus 200 goal differences, but they never gave up, which helped to keep things in perspective.
“All Des has ever asked is young players must follow certain principles — to give 100 per cent effort at all times and to embrace the team ethic,” explained Jamie.
Ryde Saints currently have no first team manager, after Nick Johnston stepped down, but the position has been advertised and the club and is reviewing potential candidates.
“We have no magic wand solutions for what’s happening on the pitch, but if an enthusiastic manager wants to come in to try to improve what we do, we have some fantastic facilities and coaches available to the right person,” Jamie adds, in a reassuring tone for fans.
“If it brings trophies, that’s great, but our ambition at this club is different — results and the goal difference are second to the club’s model.
“I have huge respect for the players at our club, for not giving up and keeping the team going.”
Gareth True, goalkeeper and co-manager of W&B, said he was full of admiration for the Ryde Saints team for the way they kept going on Saturday.
“They gave a lot and didn’t stop until the end. It was disappointing for them, but having such a young side is good for their future,” said Gareth.