By Damian Dolan
The redevelopment of Ruislip and London’s 2013 Connacht Championship victory over Sligo will go down as two of Mark Gottsche’s proudest moments from his nine years in the county.
Gottsche steps down as London GAA county board secretary and treasurer in the coming weeks to take up the role of finance operations manager with Galway GAA.
He’d previously served as London senior games and logistics manager before being appointed secretary and treasurer.
As such, Gottsche was involved in the sale of New Eltham – London’s GAAs former home – and the redevelopment of Ruislip, which was completed in 2017.
“A lot people doubted it would happen, but we’re lucky that the members, patrons and sponsors bought into it and we managed to deliver the project, with the support of Croke Park and the Department of Foreign Affairs,” Gottsche told the Irish World.
“The next step for London is a centre of excellence, whether that’s in conjunction with a club, or a couple of clubs.
“That’s the next big project, where there’s two or three top quality pitches.”
Gottsche’s return to his native Galway will also mean the end of a stellar inter-county career with London for the Oranmore/Maree clubman, which saw him make 73 league and championship appearances between 2011 and 2019.
He made his debut against Mayo in May 2011 as the Exiles came within two minutes of stunning James Horan’s side, only to eventually succumb in extra-time.
A few weeks later he helped London record a first championship victory since 1977, as they beat Fermanagh in Ruislip in the All-Ireland qualifiers.
However, his crowning moment undoubtedly came on an “unforgettable day” in May 2013 with a man of the match display as London beat Sligo 1-12 to 0-14 in Ruislip in the Connacht Championship.
It was just London’s second-ever win in Connacht and Gottsche was awarded the GAA’s Player of the Month award for May of that year.
“I only came into the squad in April (2011) after the league and a lot of my passion for London football came from Paul Coggins, and his passion for it,” said Gottsche.
“I’ve some great memories of one-liners from Paul at training, and all the lads I’ve played with. I’ve made some great friends along the way.
“But that 2013 day against Sligo was probably the highlight of it all. Not a lot of people who’ve played for London can say they’ve won a championship game.”