By Ben Hart, Sportsbeat
Lifelong Ramsgate fan John Emmins believes this weekend’s crunch FA Cup tie is a chance to showcase the entire town in the best possible light.
Owner James Lawson has helped re-establish the connection between the club and community in his four years at the helm, with the Ramsgate Football Club Supporters Association (RFSA), headed up by Hemmins, playing a big role in fostering that feeling.
Ramsgate welcome Frome Town to east Kent this weekend, with a place in the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup on the line, and Emmins, 76, knows only too well what a game of that magnitude can do for the club.
“About 10 years ago we got to the first round proper and played away against Nuneaton,” said Emmins.
“If the draw had gone another way, we could have played a Football League team, but it was still a really big deal.
“We didn’t actually perform as well as we hoped and things went against us a bit, but it was a fantastic atmosphere – hopefully we can go a bit further this time.
“It excites everybody in the town, it gets the club more publicity and hopefully more supporters.
“It’s a big snowball effect, the further you go, the more interest you get and there’s more money in the FA Cup as well, so it’s a win-win situation.”
A former maintenance engineer manager, Emmins was asked if he would consider picking up a few odd jobs at the Pitching In Isthmian League club following his retirement.
He is now at the forefront of the club’s devoted RFSA team – most of whom are over 70 – who spend at least a couple of days a week helping with the upkeep of club grounds, but Hemmins insists the volunteers benefit just as much as the club do.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “It’s kept me busy, I’m doing things I like doing such as repairing things.
“I can say that for everybody, it’s like a little community and it’s the social aspect of it as well.
“We could do with more members, of course, but it’s good for your wellbeing and we love coming up here, whatever the weather.
“Every week we are up on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and occasionally I have to go other days, but that’s no problem, it keeps me going and keeps the mind working.”
John Emmins is one of countless volunteers who play integral roles at non-league clubs across the country, with opportunities to get involved now available through the Pitching In Volunteer Hub.
And he will be present on Saturday for one of the biggest games in the club’s modern history – just as he always has been.
“My Dad took me to a Ramsgate game when I was just a nipper,” said Emmins.
“It’s been like a drug, I’ve been involved ever since.
“It’s a family run club, run really well, we’ve got some great, young lads coming through, and it’s done wonders for the whole community. “
Find volunteering opportunities at your local club by visiting https://pitchinginvolunteers.co.uk/
30th September at Home, Rams v Frome Town 3rd Qualifying round FA cup, kick off 3pm.