Ian Draycott is a forward for Folkestone Invicta, with an impressive goal scoring record at all levels in non-league. Draycott is an experienced player with great experience in the game, having won promotions with both Folkestone Invicta and Bedford Town. Ian was kind enough to talk to us about non-league football, and gave us some great answers.
Firstly, how is this season going for you Folkestone Invicta, and how is it going for you personally?
We are having a great season and we’re performing way above expectations. Last season we finished 15th in the league, only three points above the relegation zone after winning our last two games of the season. That lead to us being predicted to finish in the bottom eight by the betting companies before the 17/18 campaign.
So far this season we have already passed the 55 points we achieved last season with 16 games to go, we’re in the playoffs with some big non-league clubs, and we are confident we can stay there if we keep performing to the levels we have done so far this season.
On a personal note, our improved team performances have naturally lead to me performing better than last year. We play fast, energetic, attacking football which suits my game. Whether I’m linking attacks, creating chances or finishing them I’m having a bigger impact on results than I did last season.
Who have been the toughest opposition you have faced this season?
I’d have to say, certain periods of our game at Dulwich Hamlet was the toughest so far. Once they went ahead, their confidence was high and they had 2000+ fans cheering them on, we had to ride the storm for a little while which was tough. I don’t think I touched the ball for 10 minutes! Once we got a foothold back in the game I felt we matched them, but unfortunately we still ended up on the wrong side of a seven goal thriller.
Who is the best player you have played with… and who is the best player you have played against?
I have played with a lot of players that have progressed into full time football, the top three probably being Jed Wallace (currently Millwall), Sonny March (currently Brighton) and Matt Ingram (currently QPR). The best non-league player has to be my idol Paul Booth. A non-league goal scoring legend!
The best player I’ve played against is tough as I don’t want to just name some pros that I’ve played a pre-season friendly against. I also played for England Colleges when I was 18, so I played against a lot of international under eighteen players too. If we’re talking non-league the best front line I’ve played against is Matt Tubbs and Paul Sales when they were at Salisbury together in the Southern Premier, and then the Conference (now National) South. They were unplayable on their day, Salisbury even turned over Nottingham Forrest in the FA Cup thanks to that partnership. I haven’t played against a better pair in non-league since them and that was over 10 years ago.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given in football?
Never lose sight of why you started playing football in the first place. For me that’s both the enjoyment through scoring goals and winning games, and also to be part of a ‘team’ both on and off the pitch, and we have certainly got that at Folkestone.
There’s been a lot of talk about VAR lately, what is your opinion on it?
I’m all for it although I can’t see it coming to non-league anytime soon! It obviously needs a bit of time to be refined and finalised, but I think it will be good for the game long term once referees, players, managers and supporters have a good understanding of the processes. I watch a number of sports including cricket, rugby and tennis where the games have all improved due to the introduction of technology.
If you could change one rule in football, what would it be?
It’s not a rule but playing three games in five days over the Christmas period is ridiculous. I can understand the tradition of professionals playing Boxing Day and New Year’s Day, but I don’t understand the reason behind asking part time, non-league players to sacrifice that much time and effort over the Christmas period.
Who is your favourite footballer, past or present?
I would not say I really have a favourite player, but when I was growing up I used to love watching Dennis Bergkamp in the Arsenal team from the late 90’s early 2000’s. I appreciate good teams rather than individuals and I have not seen many teams over the last couple of years that are as good as Man City’s this season.
What is your favourite thing about non-league?
The characters. There’s nowhere else you can meet so many different characters whether they’re managers, players, supporters or volunteers all in the same environment. I won’t name any names, but every club has them and everyone knows who they are!
And finally, what do you aim to achieve with the rest of the season at Folkestone Invicta?
We never set the play-offs as a target at the beginning of the season but now we’re in them we want to stay there! Play-offs can be a lottery so it would be great to be a part of it at the end of the season. I have been promoted to Conference South via the play-offs before back when I was at Bedford Town in the Southern League, we were big outside underdogs then too, so it would be great to do the same with Folkestone!
If you enjoyed this interview then look out for new ones every Thursday on out twitter (@officialBOTN), you can also follow Ian at (@Draycott10) and myself (@adam__willmott)