Friday 23 March 2018

Player, secretary, treasurer. . . it's all in a busy day's work for Exile Gottsche

Mark Gottsche (SPORTSFILE)
Mark Gottsche (SPORTSFILE)
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Every player has his personal pre-match routine but Mark Gottsche's features the most unusual dimension of all - he signs the official squad list which will be given to the referee.

But then Gottsche isn't just a member of the London football team that takes on Mayo in the Connacht quarter-final in Irish TV Grounds, Ruislip on Sunday, he's also the London Board's full-time secretary and treasurer.

The dual role held by the Galwayman, who played for his native county in early 2008, is unique in the GAA, but Gottsche has grown accustomed to his position as county player and senior administrator.

It has been an especially busy few weeks on and off the field as London prepare for the visit of Mayo, who are seeking their 14th successive win in the Connacht Championship.

The game will be played before an all-ticket 3,000 crowd as London hope to give Mayo a fright similar to 2011 when the game went to extra-time. The Exiles led by two points a few minutes from the end of normal time before Mayo brought it level.

No Connacht team has done as well against Mayo since then. The 2011 clash with London was James Horan's first Championship outing as Mayo manager.

Gottsche, who wore No 12 that day, is still aboard and eagerly looking forward to what is a massive challenge for the Exiles, who finished bottom of Division 4 last month.

"Mayo are one of the top two or three sides so we know what we're up against. We've got to get competitive early on, stay competitive all the way and see where it takes us," he said.

London, who are managed by former Wexford forward Ciarán Deely, had only one victory (v Waterford) in Division 4 but did quite in all the other games, except for the clash with Wexford, where they were well beaten.

They played Louth in a challenge game in London early this month to tune up for what is the highlight of their season, both for players and the wider GAA community in London and beyond.

"Mayo always bring a big crowd when it's their turn to play in London. Apart from people living here, many others travel from around the rest of Britain so it's a great weekend," said Gottsche, who was born in Germany. His family moved to Oranmore when he was five years old.

With the organisational side having been well planned, Gottsche will concentrate on his playing responsibilities for what is the ultimate David v Goliath clash.

But then it was the same in 2011 when London came so close to pulling off one of the biggest upsets in Championship history.

Mayo have since beaten them comfortably in the 2013 Connacht final but Gottsche is hoping that the Ruislip atmosphere will be a big help on Sunday.

"We're as ready as we can be. We'll give it a right go from start to finish," he said.

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