Leon Ottley-Gooch knows just what it takes to get promoted to the Ryman League’s top tier — and he believes it is all about to come together at Bury Town.
The recent signing came to Ram Meadow from Leiston, where his seven-and-a-half-year spell saw the midfielder play an influential role in taking them to their highest ever level — from the Eastern Counties (Thurlow Nunn) League Premier Division to the Ryman Premier in a three-year period.
And after assessing what is already in place on-and-off the pitch in his new surroundings, having signed ahead of Boxing Day’s trip to Soham Town Rangers, the 29-year-old is confident Bury supporters should be expecting their side to mount a real challenge for promotion this season.
“I definitely think so,” he said. “They have got the right mix of youth and experience and Chenners (manager Ben Chenery) knows the game inside out.
“Listening to him closely, the boys here will go far as well.”
A perfect festive run of three straight victories — 4-1 away at Soham, followed by home wins over Wroxham (6-1) and Dereham (2-1) — has propelled the Blues back into the play-off places in Division One North ahead of two away games in a week that will see them go up against promotion-chasing rivals.
Chenery’s side travel to ninth-place Hertfordshire outfit Cheshunt, who are only four points off the top five, tomorrow (3pm), before a trip to Greater London’s Upminster to take on current seventh-placed AFC Hornchurch on Tuesday (7.45pm) in what could be a crucial run of games.
A point from both would leave manager Chenery smiling, though.
“When you play teams in and around you away from home a point is a good result,” he said.
“If we can remain unbeaten after those games I will be thoroughly pleased.”
The Bury chief said his players and management staff deserved ‘massive credit’ for orchestrating their current run, which has seen them bridge the ground they lost after a storming start that saw them top the league table, with four wins from their last five matches, the anomaly being a 1-1 draw at fellow high-fliers Tilbury.
After such a long time at Leiston, Ottley-Gooch’s next move, having found himself on the periphery of the first team this season, was always going to be a crucial one.
But once Bury came in, he had no hesitation it was the right club at the right time.
“At Leiston I was not getting much game time and Chenners got on the phone and sold me the way the club wanted to go, with a promotion push, and how it was also developing off-the-field, and it all sounded great,” he explained.
“I also knew a couple of the lads as well, so it has been easy to settle in.”
Ottley-Gooch, a Suffolk County Council accountant who has moved to the west of the county, in a village just outside Bury St Edmunds in the last six months, played with Ollie Hughes in the Suffolk County Boys side and captain Bradley Barber on the old Suffolk College football school scheme, while he also knew Darcy De’ath from school.
After his first two games, where he has been deployed as a holding midfielder, he still feels he is only ‘80 per cent fit’ but has said he hopes to revert more to his box-to-box style once up to speed.