Club History

Needham Market Football Club was officially formed in 1919 although records do indicate that games were played in the late 1890’s in the town. The original home for the club was Young’s Meadow until a move to Crowley Park was the base until 1996. The club then moved and opened a new development called ‘Bloomfields’. With the passing away of former player Arthur Rodwell leaving the club some money and with obtaining a successful Lottery Grant, we purchased the land the club is now situated on. With a great deal of hard and prudent work by some very enthusiastic individuals, we now find ourselves situated in a facility that we totally own and the club is truly proud of.

 

The complex is named after club stalwart Derrick Bloomfield who has given more than 70 years service to the club. As well as being a player Derrick has held virtually every role in the club. To recognise his service the club awarded him a testimonial match when Ipswich Town Football Club visited the ground in 2004. He was also presented with a long service award from The Football Association for his achievement.

 

When Needham Market Football Club first entered the Suffolk & Ipswich Football League (then known as the Ipswich & District League), it was also the playing arena for Clacton Town, Harwich & Parkeston, Hadleigh United,  Stowmarket Town, Sudbury Town (now known as AFC Sudbury), and Woodbridge Town.

 

Over the yeas the club has won many trophies with one of the most notable being crowned champions of the Senior Division of The Suffolk & Ipswich League in the 1995 / 1996 season. This coincided with the opening of ‘Bloomfields’ and a new chapter in the clubs history, as we then applied for promotion to the Jewson (then Ridgeons now Thurlow Nunn) League Division 1 which was duly accepted.

 

Other honours won by the club include The Suffolk & Ipswich League Cup in the 1977 / 1978 season and the 1979 / 1980 season. The Suffolk Football Association Junior Cup was won in the season 1984 / 1985 and a successful trip to Portman Road the home of Ipswich Town Football Club; saw the club victorious in The Suffolk Football Association Senior Cup in the season of 1989 / 1990 and again in the season of 2004 / 2005. The final was also reached in this competition in the seasons of 1970 / 1971, 1979 / 1980, 1998 / 1999 and 1999 / 2000, unfortunately having to settle for runners-up spot on each occasion.

 

The Reserve Team won The Suffolk & Ipswich Football League Reserves Division in the seasons of 1970 / 1971 and 1971 / 1972, and also The Suffolk & Ipswich Football League Intermediate B Division in the season of 1993 / 1994. Division Three of The Suffolk & Ipswich Football League was also won in the seasons of 1985 / 1986 and 2003 / 2004. After moving to the Essex & Suffolk Border League the Division Two title was won in the season of 1998 / 1999, and a year later came runners up in the League Cup losing out to Senior Division side Gas Recreation. The Reserve Team are currently playing in the Ridgeons Reserve League North Division.

 

The Third Team or A Team as they were known, won The Suffolk & Ipswich League Division Eight Championship in the season 1983 / 1984, and were also successful in winning the Orwell Cup in the seasons of 1992 / 1993 and 1995 / 1996. In the season of 1996 / 1997 they also won The Saul Charity Cup. On the subject of The Saul Charity Cup it is an honour to have been the inaugural winners of this competition when first held in the season of 1935 / 1936. In the season of 2003 / 2004 they won Division Three of The Suffolk & Ipswich Football League and followed this success up a year later by winning Division 2 of The Suffolk & Ipswich Football League. This side also became the first A Team to win The Suffolk Football Association Primary Cup in the season of 2004 / 2005, and also became the highest placed A Team to reach Division One of The Suffolk & Ipswich Football League. The club no longer runs an A Team as most of the clubs young players now start in the reserve team.

 

After being in The Ridgeons League Division 1 for a number of seasons we finally finished as runners up in the season of 2004 / 2005. This was a big thing for the club and to the Manager at that time Mark Morsley for all his efforts in getting the club promotion. In the clubs inaugural season in the Ridgeons Premier Division they finished in a very creditable 6th place, and had a good run in The FA Vase going out to eventual winners Nantwich Town 6-3 AET. Manager Mark Morsley left the club at the end of the season under good terms after being appointed Manager of AFC Sudbury who had been newly promoted to The Ryman League.

 

The club acted swiftly and appointed Danny Laws and Chris Tracey as joint managers for the 2006 / 2007 season. In their first season of Management they assembled a very young and talented squad of players who gained experience and some notable results. The club won its first ever FA Cup tie when they defeated Desborough Town at home. In The Suffolk Football Association Premier Cup a record crowd of 750 saw Ipswich Town win 3-0 at ‘Bloomfields’, but the biggest achievement was finishing in fourth position in the Ridgeons League Premier Division on 81 points and also lifting The East Anglian Cup after beating Concord Rangers 2-1 in the final.

 

For season 2007 / 2008 Danny Laws was sole Manager after Chris Tracey decided to return to AFC Sudbury. This season proves to be fantastic for Danny and the players as the club moves to a new level making historic landmarks along the way. Finishing runners-up in the Ridgeons League Premier Division with a must win game on the last day of the season to first placed Soham Town Rangers needed. Unfortunately the game resulted in a 4-0 defeat. We were also losing semi-finalists in The FA Carlsberg Vase losing out to eventual winners Kirkham & Wesham. However Suffolk Football Association Premier Cup glory was achieved beating Leiston on penalties in the final held at Portman Road the home of Ipswich Town Football Club. Silverware was not finished there as victory for the first time in the Ridgeons League Challenge Cup beating Gorleston 2-1 in the final finished off the season on a high.

 

Another good season in 2008 / 2009 for the club as a third place finish in the Ridgeons League Premier Division was achieved just missing out on 2nd place on the last day of the season. Consecutive Suffolk Football Association Premier Cup finals achieved losing 3-2 to Lowestoft Town in what was a very exciting game of football. Having gone 2-0 down early on and somewhat looking out of the game, but the never say die attitude of the side were soon on level terms and only a last gasp penalty took the game away from extra time. A great run in The FA Vase once again this time going out to the lottery of a penalty shoot out to Chalfont St. Peter in the Quarter Finals.

 

Season 2009 / 2010 was the most successful in the clubs history. The 1st Team not only won The Eastern Counties League Premier Division for the first time, but also The Eastern Counties League – League Challenge Cup to make it a Domestic Double; a feat not achieved for some 15 years. A third successive Suffolk FA Premier Cup Final was also achieved only to be defeated by a very strong Ipswich Town XI. However the team did not disgrace themselves and came away with their heads held high. For the second consecutive season, the Quarter Finals of the National FA Carlsberg Vase Competition were also reached only to once again be knocked out this stage.

 

The 2010 / 2011 Season saw a new chapter in Needham Market Football Clubs history as for the first time Step 4 Football awaited in the form of The Ryman League Division One North. The anticipation, optimism and confidence was very high at the start of the season but no one was getting carried away as consolidation in the league was the priority. Well who would have thought the season we were to have. Challenging at the top of the league for the whole season with East Thurrock United who would eventually go on and win the championship, but we would have another bite of the cherry as 2nd place was cemented in the league and a home semi-final play off. Unfortunately we would go on to lose this match 3-1 to Brentwood Town which was very difficult to take at the time especially as we finished 18 points ahead of them in the regular playing season. A fourth consecutive Final appearance in the Suffolk FA Premier Cup was also to be achieved but unfortunately a 2-0 defeat would ensue to Ryman Premier Division side Bury Town.

 

Season 2011 / 2012 saw the club open its doors to a new venture as we introduced a full time Academy Programme for 16-18 year olds who would be studying for an NVQ in Sports Development half of the day and coached by Ex-Professional player Kevin Horlock the remainder of the day. In truth the scheme was a massive success with the lads on the scheme also forming our Reserve side who had an excellent season. They finished runners up in the Ridgeons Reserve League North Division, Semi-Finalists in The Suffolk FA Senior Reserve Cup and reached the 3rd Qualifying Round of The FA Youth Cup (the furthest the club had ever reached). The future of this football club may well come from these up and coming players who will continue to develop and under their teaching, coaching and leadership the Academy will grow from strength to strength becoming very important to the legacy of the football clubs future. The First Team once again challenged for The Ryman League Division One North Title up until Christmas when a run of bad results ended the automatic promotion route but the club remained in the play off positions for the remainder of the season. We were top scorers in the division with 104 goals and finished 4th in the division. Victory in the play off semi-final away at Tilbury in shall we say a mammoth match!! set up a play off final 36 hours later at league runners up Enfield Town. In truth this was too short a turnaround and we were both physically and mentality drained unfortunately losing the game 1-0.

 

Season 2012 / 2013 was a very difficult one in comparison with the previous seasons in that Needham had a long barren spell without recording a win at Bloomfields until the New Year. The club did following his resignation from Leiston move quickly to get Mark Morsley in harness once more with Danny Laws. But with the lure of managing at a higher level Danny decided to take the vacant post at Leiston and Mark was forced to take on the responsibilities as Manager earlier than he had originally intended. This did however give Mark the opportunity to assess the squad particularly the youngsters from the Academy. It is fair to say that he found the quality of the lads excellent and rewarded some of them with contracts with the 1st Team. This is a great testimony to the hard work put in by Kevin Horlock and the Academy staff.

 

Season 2013 / 2014 saw Needham achieve a number of major achievements for the club most notably reaching the 4th Qualifying Round of The FA Cup for the first time where we lost 1-0 to Cambridge United in front of a record 1,784 spectators. In the League we managed to clinch 5th place and a play off spot after winning 7-1 on the last day of the season. However we unfortunately lost the semi-final 1-0 to Witham Town who were eventual play off winners.

 

Season 2014 / 2015 was yet another historic one for the club as the 1st Team became Ryman League Division 1 North Champions sealing promotion to The Ryman Premier Division for the first time. A season long battle ensued with Harlow Town but the club managed to win the league courtesy of a professional, classy 5-0 victory away to Chatham Town on the final day of the regular season. A first for the club also saw our Reserve Side compete at Step 6 Thurlow Nunn Division 1 for the very first time. Conducting ourselves very well we finished in a respectable 16th position having won 10 out of 12 points in the last 4 games of the season. The Youth Team had a great run in The FA Youth Cup reaching the 1st Round Proper for the very first time only to bow our to Stevenage losing 4-3 in a pulsating game. They did however provide more silverware for the club as they won The Thulow Nunn Youth Cup for the first time defeating Histon 3-1 to cap off a brilliant season for the football club.      

 

Updated by Mark Easlea & Richard Easlea

June 2015

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