HE evolved from supporting the club to becoming chairman, and now operating as the team’s kitman, Mick Ring continues to devote his time to Cork City FC.
Over the few seasons, City have leaned heavily on the goodwill of volunteers, and none more so than Ring.
The former City chairman somehow manages to find time to make sure players look the part on matchdays despite a full-time job and being kept busy with family life.
“This time of the year can be quite busy for me with trying to get the gear ready for pre-season," Ring said.
"It’s quite funny actually when I first meet a new signing because in my head, I’m seizing him up thinking ‘he’s probably a medium not a large’. During the season then is different because it’s about making sure the right gear arrives at matches.
"I start getting ready for games the day before. Colin Healy would usually give me the squad list on a Thursday and from that then I would just make sure that all of the players' gear is packed.
"Making sure the right amount of cut socks are there for players who wear them, etc. I would have everything ready to put into the van the next day.
"I take a backseat during the game, and after the match, I just pack up the van and head out to Bishopstown and get a wash on. I’d go back out then over the weekend to the kit.
“With away games; I always like to leave a bit before the team bus does just in case the van breaks down so that I can then put the gear onto the bus then.
"It’s also helpful because if there ever is traffic on the road, I can ring and warn the bus to avoid that route. I do meet the team in the hotel for the pre-match meal and then head off early to the ground.
"It’s the same routine really regarding when I get to the ground and afterwards with heading straight back to Bishopstown afterwards and getting a wash on.
"They can be long days.”
There are certain grounds that Ring appreciates more than others because of their accessibility, however there is one away venue that always manages to cause drama for the City Kitman.
“I suppose from a selfish point of view, the Showgrounds, Sligo Rovers' stadium, is probably the best for me because of the accessibility.
"I can drive the van straight up to the door and bring the gear in from there. Richmond Park is probably the most difficult because I have to park outside on the street and then the dressing rooms are under the stadium.
"So, it’s a bit more challenging. Waterford’s dressing rooms have to be one of the best in the league. There spacious and each player has their own little hubby.
“The one ground that I always seem to have trouble with is the Carlisle Grounds.
"I remember a few years back, I actually forgot to pack the goalkeeper’s jerseys but luckily, I found a third goalkeeper jersey and Nults [Mark McNulty] ended up wearing that.
"He had to wear the number 25, but the sub keeper actually had a Bray jersey on. I just taped up the crest.
"I remember saying to John Caulfield, jokingly, that he better not have any plans of subbing the keeper.
“I had another mishap the last time we played Bray a few weeks ago. I had the van at home and had the back doors opened in it to leave in some air.
"I noticed that there was a smell coming from the van but I couldn’t find a reason why. However, when we got to the game when I took out the goalkeeper gear, myself and Eanna Buckley got a really bad smell and I realised that the cat must have urinated on the bag and he went through onto the goalkeeper shorts.
"I was actually surprised that Nults didn’t give me more grief about it because he’s normally the one that loves to jump on an opportunity.
"We haven’t used the purple kit since even though I made sure it was deep cleaned!”