Monday 23 October 2017

Gottsche ensures London's year in the air flies smoothly

Mark Gottsche. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile
Mark Gottsche. Photo: Barry Cregg / Sportsfile

Michael Verney

London's senior footballers were dotted all over Croke Park last Saturday night as they absorbed every moment of Dublin and Tyrone's exciting draw and the valuable pointers they picked up were put to good use as they surprised Carlow the following day.

Having opened with a double-scores defeat to Waterford (2-16 to 1-8), it sent minor shockwaves throughout Division 4 - Carlow had drawn with promotion favourites Westmeath the week before - but Ciaran Deely's London side were full value for their five-point win.

Life revolves around travel with the majority of the squad taking the London Underground to and from work and training, but this year there are even more logistical issues with the Exiles playing all league games in both codes away from home during Ruislip's redevelopment.

It takes a lot of organising and places financial strain with each trip across the Irish Sea costing anything between €7,000 and €9,000 but they're in the safe hands of Mark Gottsche, London GAA's full-time secretary and treasurer.

Starring

As well as starring on the football side, where he made his 50th competitive appearance between league and championship last Sunday, the German-born attacker mixes work and play as he looks after travel arrangements for all teams and while it's particularly busy in 2017, next year all league games will be played on English soil.

"There's pressure every year with finances but a little more this year with all the league games in Ireland but we do get a travel grant from Croke Park and it's just a matter of cutting our cloth to fit after that and making sure we get value for money," Gottsche said.

"We've a great partnership with CityJet, they sponsor our senior championship and we use them for nearly all our flights and we're also sponsored by Clayton Hotels so we've a good link in with them to getting good deals on hotels.

Redevelopment

"We've all our games at home next year with all league games in Ruislip so you're sort of operating on a two-year budget for your National League, what you spend this year you'll save next year."

With the bulk of their Division 4 SF fixtures and Division 2A SH games against Leinster opposition this spring, they're mainly based in the Clayton Hotel at Dublin Airport which has almost become "a second home" for the long-serving Gottsche and his team-mates.

Ruislip's redevelopment is top of Gottsche's work agenda at present and he reports the west London venue to be on track for its official opening on May 28 when Leitrim hope to avoid a Connacht SFC quarter-final defeat.

"All is on plan to be ready for the visit of Leitrim, we're 80pc of the way through the construction work at this stage, what you're seeing now is the work on the interior of the stand being done while the pitch is coming along well," the Tír Chonaill Gaels forward said.

"There are a lot of good lads involved and it's been their plan for the last five to seven years and it's just rewards for all their work.

"We've got a lot of good people involved, it's been a good county-wide, or city-wide, effort from everyone."

Irish Independent

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