By Jacob Greenwood
The second Cardinal Centurion that we have spoken to is Woking’s number one, Craig Ross. Craig celebrated 100 games for The Cards over the Christmas period and we have taken a look back at his time with the club and his plans for the future.
Hi Craig, Congratulations on reaching 100 games for Woking and becoming a Cardinal Centurion! You started out at Woking in your youth football career, how did that come about?
I was released by Reading at 16 because I was too small at the time, so I signed for Woking in the youth team as they where a very good academy known for being successful and pushing players on to the first team and higher levels which they still are today, so I spent a year in the academy before moving on to Crystal Palace in my second year.
Did you have ambitions of coming back to play for the club later in your career?
Woking has always been a club close to my heart, I actually did my work experience at school with Woking so I’ve had an affiliation with the club for a long time so it’s always been a club I’d look out for. You never know how your career is going to go but when the chance came to come back to Woking I couldn’t turn it down.
What attracted you to the club when you re-signed in 2018?
Like I said I had started in the youth team but never made an appearance for the first team and that’s what your aim is when your in the academy so it felt like going full circle and a chance to accomplish something I didn’t get to do earlier on in my career. Also, the team where doing well at the time with a chance of promotion and a chance to be part of something special so after speaking to the gaffer it was a no-brainer for me.
What memories do you have of your debut (a 2-2 draw with Torquay)?
It all happened pretty quickly I signed on the Thursday then it was straight down to Torquay the following day. We started the game very well and went 2-0 up in the first half but unfortunately Torquay where very good in the 2nd half and we ended up drawing the game which was obviously disappointing but I hadn’t played in 4 months after leaving Barnet so I was just glad to be back out there doing what I love.
What game did you most enjoy playing in?
I don’t think I could pick just one! There have been a lot of games that I’ve enjoyed playing in since I signed, obviously the FA Cup run we had my first year where we beat Torquay and Swindon away 1-0 to get to play Watford at home in front of a sell out crowd and the atmosphere in those games was incredible. Then there is the drama of the playoffs being 2-0 down with 10 minutes to go against Wealdstone and coming back to win 3-2, then the week after beating Welling 1-0 at home and the drama and pressure on those games was something special.
We’ve seen a few ‘keepers sign during your time at the club – how hard have you had to work to keep your spot in the side?
Yeah it’s not easy, especially as a goalkeeper you’re either playing or you’re not so you have to be on it and keep pushing to be better all the time otherwise there’s always someone ready to take your place. I pride myself on my work rate and my drive to improve and always back my own ability. It’s something I’ve had to do all my career and something I’ll keep doing.
In your opinion, what is the best save you’ve made whilst at Woking?
That’s a tough one because some saves you make only get remembered if they win you points and keep you in the game but one sticks in my memory from last season against Wrexham at home, where the ball fell to their player on the edge of the box, he hit it on the volley which was going in the top corner and I managed to get a step across and get my top hand there to tip it over the bar.
How much did it mean to you to be heavily recognised for your performance last season (19/20)?
It was a great honour to be recognised with the three awards last season, as they all are voted by different types of people who see the game from different points of view. From the players you play with, the manager who picks you and the fans who come to watch you – they all chose to vote for me which is something I’m very grateful for.
What’s the ambition for the rest of your career, either with or without The Cards?
My ambition is to get back in to the Football League and I want that to be with Woking. I believe if last season hadn’t been cut short we would have made the playoffs, then who knows but I believe it’s an exciting time for the club with the new owners looking to take the club forward and I want to be part of achieving something this club has never done before. If I could do that with the club that’s been a part of my life since I was 15 it would be the greatest achievement of my career.
Keep an eye out for more Cardinal Centurions interviews being added over the coming months.
Images by David Holmes. A full set can be found at wokingfc.co.uk