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Dill - What a character!!!

Written by Mark Morsley on .

As has been reported on the website earlier Dave 'Dillion' Lockwood left us on Tuesday afternoon.  On hearing the news I had a real feeling of loss.  In many ways that might seem strange as my only contact with him has been through our football club since I first joined 12 years ago.  However it is the impact he has had on me during that time.

I have lost count how many times, particularly in the past two seasons, when my post match debriefing to the players and staff was disturbed by Dill struggling his way to the dressing room just so he could give us all the thumbs up for a game that he had really enjoyed! 

He was man who struggled with mobility since his stroke but that never stopped him.  However bad he must has felt on some days he would always want to shake my hand.  I could never miss him as he would be shouting at me at the top of his voice!!  I never really knew what he was saying but I knew from the smile on his face that he was pleased to see me and I was always pleased to see him.

He loved our club and everyone involved but I believe most of all he loved the players and I know that the players loved him.  There can be nothing more humbling for a footballer to be adored by a man who was so full of humility and never moaned about his problems so long as he could cheer us onto victory.

Bloomfields will never be the same and I know that as a club we will remember him in an appropriate way.



Written by Mark Morsley on .

A year ago we had achieved a place in the Ryman League Division One North play offs and fallen at the first hurdle.  It was a bit of a depressing way to finish a season that had highs and lows but after undertaking a lot of soul searching following the proceedings at Spa Road, Witham I knew that the 2014/2015 season could not have come around quick enough.

Many times since my return to Bloomfields have I spoken about building blocks and that was put down with my team first.  I knew that my squad was decent and I didn’t need too much to give it the lift it needed to try and achieve the ultimate aim that being promotion to Ryman League Premier Division.

Once the preseason routine arrived it became clear that my drive and ambition was matched by all staff and players.  From the first session that was as sharp and crisp as any the previous season I knew we were ready. 


The levels of fitness that the returning squad showed, a level that the additions to the squad had to match quickly, impressed me.  Steve and Norfs set up a variety of routines, which were all based on high tempo possession and this would be a trademark of what was ahead.

It seemed an age before we got to August 9th and the arrival of the new season.  The Bloomfields stadium was a bright as a new penny, the work undertaken by the willing band of volunteers made for a breath-taking sight.  Newly promoted and full of energy after their victorious previous season winning the Essex Senior League, Great Wakering Rovers would provide stiff opposition.  Their return to the Ryman League would finish up with a fine mid table finish.

On the day the difference in the teams was one of the key things that made us one of the favourites for the league, that being our stamina and the ability to play high tempo football for 95 minutes.  GWR were on the back foot and from a number of corners we had in our favour Luke Ingram whipped his left sided delivery straight into the net.  We were up and running!!

August would be a great month for us, we played a 3-4-3 system and teams struggled against our 3 strikers.  To be honest we were perming 3 from Sam Newson, Ryan Crisp, Danny Cunningham and Ian Westlake so we were pretty strong.

The undoubted highlight from that run was the excellent 3-1 win at Sudbury.  Cruelly reduced to 10 men after 30 minutes having conceding a goal via a deflected shot the second half needed to be a massive performance.

On the day it was just what we did.  We planned to use the ball as our 11th man and that worked a treat, forcing AFC to chase us for the whole half.  Ingers,  Westy and News scored our goals and our hosts frustrations boiled over towards the end of the game with no fewer than 3 players seeing red.

However we came down with a bump in the first game of September as we experienced a problem that would stifle us for a couple of months.  A front 3 works well until we were against a resolute defence who played on the counter attack.  We had not worked, to any great extent, on a plan B and plan C, we just were caught up in the exciting attacking play we were using.

Brentwood came to Needham and showed to sort of tactical ability and resolute play that would end up with them winning the play offs.  Despite having a lot of the ball and a lot of possession, this took place in front of the Blues defence and never really hurt them.  They sucked us in and hit us on the break with 3 chances created and 2 goals scored against the 1 scored by Luke Hammond.

The rest of September would return to normal procedures, so we hoped, but Heybridge came and did a ‘Brentwood’ on us and 6 points were dropped.  However September would be remembered for a historic Marketmen performance in the FA Cup, were we were handed a tough away game against Cambridge City.

This was a game that would be a real challenge, one I would add, that I was really relishing.  I wanted to see if we could be confident enough to play the sort of possession football that had been our trademark in this enviroment.  On the day the performance was one of the highlights of the season.

This was also a game where there was the temptation to change our attacking system but I resisted that and stuck with the 3-4-3, albeit I stared George Clarke and Crispy in a wider position and tried to get Skipper Kem Izzet to get closer to News up front.

The system worked well and the Lillywhites could not deal with the sharpness of our play, which was also complimented by the raw desire to regain possession when it was lost.


Leading at half-time by two goals to nil we had dominated the game to the extent that City were lucky to only be two down. 

A backlash was expected and City started on front foot, we were creaking and on the hours two goals in 3 minutes levelled things up. 

A change was needed and brave players to step up to the plate was order of the day.  Clarkey and Crispy were replaced by young starlets Brendan Heath and Ace Howells and the system changed to 3-5-2. 

Too many managers are scared to play young players sometimes relying on ‘experience’ to get them through.  That has its place I firmly believe but so does the exuberance of youth as Ace and Heathy played without fear!!

It was game on and again our high levels of stamina got us on top again with News and Ace terrorising the Cambridge back line.  We deservedly went ahead when young Howells rounded the home keeper on 78 minutes and soon after News finished them off. 


A win we really deserved and I pay great credit to manager Gary Roberts who was very fair and honest regarding how well we had played.  I like Gary immensely, he is a very good manager and praise from him really meant something.

October for me will be remembered by my 50th birthday celebrations, particularly a golf trip to Fota Island in Southern Ireland.  However the football results were pretty poor.  We did pick up 9 points in the league but lost at Aveley as well as our demise in all cup competitions.

The Witham game in the FA Cup was hyped up by the press following the issues that surrounded the Play Off semi-final the previous season.  The game was lively and we had missed enough chances to have won 3 games.  Leading 1-0 at the break we needed to ensure we were solid but Witham scored 2 quick goals and saw the victory out.

However I did gain a degree of pleasure from two matches this month as I played very young teams against Mildenhall in the Suffolk Premier Cup and Leiston in the Ryman League Cup.  Of these games the away match at Victory Road saw Morsleys babes dominated for a large periods of the game and taking the lead via Ace Howells after 70 minutes.

However Leiston’s experience soon helped them achieve an equaliser, with the game lost on penalties.  On the night our academy lads were outstanding against a very strong Blues line up, particularly young Jake Dye.  He played at right back and dealt with ex pro’s Jack Simmons and Tom Winter exceptionally well.  It was no surprise to me when he picked up all the academy awards at last Fridays Presentation Night.

With no more cup competitions to take our ‘eye of the ball’ we aimed to pick up as many points from the remaining games of 2014, with the away game at Harlow the biggest of all.  Even at this stage it was starting to look like a two horse race with us and The Hawks in the pole positions.  The game on their 3G pitch was fast and furious and ended with them deservedly winning 2-1.

They started the better and this was the game that changed our back 3 to a back 4 after being exposed in key areas.  Their opening goal came from a wide delivery that we never dealt with.  Switching to the back 4 and the pace of Ingers and Darryl Coakley dealing with their wingers we got back into the game and Danny Cunningham equalised for us.

We were on top but never put away the chances we created which let our hosts get back into the game where a stunning flying header gained the win and the 3 points.

A home defeat against Ware was the catalyst for a change in system with Managers Player of the Year Ollie Fenn taking up a centre forward role in the away victory at Cheshunt in the switch to 4-4-2.


The return Sudbury match had an interesting twist as ex Needham Manager Danny Laws was installed in the AFC dug out as caretaker following Dave Batch’s surprising move to St Neots.  Danny has since become the driving force at Kings Marsh, with a new 3G pitch and academy all arriving next season.  He is a great guy and AFC are lucky to have him.

The match was remembered by two things.  Firstly another red card for a Sudbury player following a challenge on debutant Steve Holder that was more suited to a WWF Wrestling bout (there was also another red in injury time).  The second was the tenacity of Michael Brothers (who had recently joined us from Brightlingsea Regent) and News to forge out an injury time winner.

January and February 2015 was a bit hit or miss with our form a little patchy, losing points in defeats at both Dereham and Brightlingsea and a draw at Maldon.  We were playing without Chris Hogg who suffered a horrendous tackle in the Thurrock game, which kept him out until the Waltham Abbey match in late March.  Also Sam Nunn was playing injured so there was a need for someone to bolster our ranks.

Joe Whight was placed on the transfer list by neighbours Bury Town so he was snapped up and turned out to be a great signing.  He would agree a two-year contract at the end of the season following some eye-catching performances.

We picked up a number of points throughout March and we were in a great position with a 5 points gap to Harlow.  However Easter was not all chocolate eggs for us with a defeat at Heybridge and draws against Wroxham and Dereham, which allowed Harlow to close the gap. Thankfully the one thing that went our way was the resurgent Cray Wanderers who had woefully underperformed for most of the season became only the second team to win at The Harlow Arena.

So we came to the last 3 games with a 1-point gap in our favour plus we had the better goal difference.  A pretty straightforward win at Burnham Ramblers set up a tasty home game with Harlow the following week.


I think right from the day the fixtures were released the Harlow match being second from last could have been a defining moment.  As it turned out it was but not only a defining moment it was a classic non-league football match.

Nearly a thousand people arrived at Bloomfields to witness two teams both going for a win.  Achieving that gave us the title and Harlow doing the same meant they needed to win their last game to win the title.  A draw suited us as a win at Chatham gave us the title. 

I never at anytime considered playing for a draw and using a classic boxing term I told the press ‘lets get it on!!’.

Although a little sluggish from the off we settled and were great in the first half with Bruvs and News causing a Harlow defence that lacked a bit of pace no end of problems.  It was no surprise that News scored twice to mean we were leading at the break.

We did not want half-time as it oftens breaks up your pattern of play.  This was not the case however as we started really well.  However after making an excellent tactical change, moving ex Needham Dave Cowley to a more central position, Danny Chapman’s team battered us and the result as a 2-2 draw was about right on the balance of play.

Chatham away would be a defining moment in the history of Needham Market FC as a great travelling army with balloons, drums, whistles, rattles in fact whatever could make a noise was brought along.  My team were never going to let this chance go as we battered the Chats with a 5-0 win. This included a stunning Bruvs overhead shot that flew into the top corner (and won the Goal of the Season award) and then as they say CHAMPEARNOS!!’


Our aim at the beginning of the year was promotion and we have achieved that as league champions.  We won 33 out of 46 games, only drew 5 and scored 101 goals giving us a +60 goals difference.  But the key stat in this success was our goals against which was 41 conceded in 46 games and included 19 clean sheets.  It was the bedrock of our success and was achieved by every player working their socks off when we didn’t have the ball.

Although I have enjoyed compiling these Musings I do have a tinge of sadness.  The reason for this is two fold. 

Firstly I want to pay credit to a player who is leaving us.  Three years ago a great friend of mine asked me to do him a favour and help his son in law start out in a career in property management.  Soon after a very slick looking ex professional footballer called Ian Westlake walked into my office.  Two of my female staff members spent the day with him; I think I may have also paid for them all to go out for lunch and from then on I suspect we had something in common.

Not being one to miss an opportunity I kept in contact with Westy and then 2 years ago we met and I convinced him to have a crack at non-league football.  He has been a key part of our success, especially this season where his work rate and little bit of class gave us a much-needed edge.  He was also our second highest in appearances.  Too much to do away from football is one reason he is retiring but I believe that the arrival of his second child in October is a bigger draw so although we will miss him we congratulate Ian and his lovely wife Claire on the soon to be new arrival.


In addition I will be losing one of my key generals as Player Coach Lee Norfolk is taking a year away from the club. Norfs joined me as a player in my first tenure as Needham manager and 5 seasons ago he joined me at Leiston.  Those 5 seasons have been filled with successes and for me and none of that would have happened without my loyal sidekick and great mate; he will be sorely missed.

I would add however that the benches in the Physio room won't miss him as he's often been found this year taking up a position on one of them looking for Kirk or Jenks to preform a miracle?!?!

However going forward there is of course a replacement needed and I am delighted to announce that Karl Duguid has agreed terms to join us as player/coach for the coming season.  Ex Colchester United stalwart and player/Assistant Manager Karl brings a wealth of experience that our young players will benefit from as we look forward to Step 3 football.


So next season we face the challenge of football at a level not experienced by our club before.  Big clubs and a huge challenge, many new grounds to visit and more clubs who will bring rowdy away support to enhance the atmosphere for home matches.

Are we ready for it? Well for me I have no shadow of doubt that we are.  It will be a lot tougher than last season and our constancy will need to increase as will that much mentioned levels of stamina. 

But I tell you what; we are not just going to be there to make the numbers up.  It will be a challenge, but I for one cannot wait and you never know we may just create another bit of history.

Enjoy the Summer!!

All the best



Chatham Town away - come on down!!

Written by Mark Morsley on .

Just a short Musings firstly to say how I was overwhelmed by the support that was at Bloomfields on Saturday.  Harlow brought a decent number but the people of Suffolk really did us proud.  Although a tad disappointed by not finishing the job on the day, I would imagine that many you are not regular visitors to our ground so I am sure you enjoyed the game which was a great advert for non-league football.

On the match itself, 2-2 was probably about right.  We were better in the first half and the Hawks took the second.  I must pay credit to Manager Danny Chapman whose tactical changes made quite a difference.  For a manager who has had more than his fair share of criticism from some quarters of the Harlow supporters during his tenure, he should be given a big pat on the back.

The key point to make here and now is that today is Monday 20th April and the Harlow match has gone.  All focus now is on Saturdays trip to Kent to play Chatham Town, we need 3 points thats the simple truth.  They are a decent club with decent people so I am really pleased they gained a point on Saturday to make sure their Ryman League status remains.  Maybe with Bury, Witham and AFC Hornchurch coming down and all joining Division One North the Chats will be able to return to the Division One South, which I am sure will help their running costs immensely.

So what for Saturday, well my only request would be to as many of those supporters who came on Saturday, get yourselves down to The Sports Ground in Maidstone Road on Saturday.  There are coaches running with a discounted price of £7.50 a head and if we fill the 2 already booked we will get more!!

Booking details are available of the website by contacting Mel Bloomfield, but if you can't do that contact me on 07768224257 and I can pass it on.  

Never underestimate the power of the 12th man!!!

All the best


They think it’s all over!! Well it isn’t yet!?!?

Written by Mark Morsley on .

Don’t you just love the game of football?  What a season this has been and there is still a lot more to come.  I had a conversation with a supporter on Saturday who enquired whether I enjoyed these tight pressure games well I was tempted to say ‘I luv it!!’

Well he said it!!

As it happens this is what being a manager is all about.  The long season is part of a building process to achieving your aims and as you get close to doing that, for me, the enjoyment increases.  I actually thrive on this challenge and it is why I do what I do. 

However I am not sure my supporter friend felt the same and in fact the tension that seems to be coming from large parts of our excellent support base is of concern to me.  There was a post on the fans forum recently that said about getting behind the team and for these last 3 games I need every Needham fan in attendance to do this.  Ignore your initial gut reaction to what happens on the pitch and just encourage the lads as much as you can!!

This expectation from me of positiveness (not sure this is really a word by hey ho!) is not just directed at the support base but also to officials and committee.  Every comment and opinion needs to be a positive one, every time there is a match report it does not need negative, detrimental opinions, it needs to exude an air of belief and confidence. 

This is what successful clubs thrive on, their self believe in their club and their team.  We are Needham Market Football Club and we are proud to be a part of that!


Come on the Market Men!!!

When I returned to the club in February 2013 I stated that my personal target was to get into the Ryman Premier Division at the end of my second season with a place in the play offs as the target for the 2013/2014 season.  So far we are on track, albeit we are moving towards a straight shoot off with Harlow.

So when we think about our team don’t think about only achieving 2 points from 9 because that cannot be changed.  I can put a very positive spin on the draws with Wroxham and Dereham but to be honest I cannot be bothered because my focus is all on Burnham Ramblers on Saturday.  A win in this game will set up what I always knew was going to be a crucial match with the Hawks on April 18th

The various results that both teams may achieve over the last 3 games give a number of different end results but lets simplify it – we go and beat Burnham and we go and beat Harlow and that’s its, we are up as champions.  Its simple if you say it quick. 

Now I have been doing this job long enough to be well aware that football is never that easy.  However what I do know is that myself, my staff and my excellent squad of players have busted their arses to entertain you all this year and give you a team to be proud off.  We will continue to do so, to the best of our abilities, as we all believe in the same thing. 

So to give us that extra lift, to find our 12th man, to suck the ball into the opposition net, I need the Needham supporters to go the extra mile because seeing us play in the Ryman Premier League will be well worth it.

On Saturday 11th April 2015 the place to be is:-

Burnham Ramblers FC

Leslie Field

Springfield Road

Burnham on Crouch



It’s a 3pm kick off don't be late



Steering our way through the final stretch

Written by Mark Morsley on .

As I sit at my desk planning this edition of my Musings I have bright sunshine coming through the window and the glow that has filled my office reflects my mood today after our excellent win last night at Brentwood.

Certainly when I was considering our two ‘catch up’ games eight days ago and bearing in mind they were Tilbury (form team) and Brentwood (having a great season and beat us at home earlier in this campaign) both away, and our away form had dipped a bit, I thought that two draws would not have been dreadful.

So to think that we managed two wins from these games is great testament to my players and staff, the work they have put in and the level of performance we are achieving currently.

In fact the run we have been on since we ‘stuttered’ against Dereham and Maldon has set us up nicely for the final 8 games.

That all started with the home game against Romford, which I felt would be a tough game based on the away match. However as it was it ended up being fairly routine for us. Six goals and six different scorers (Fenn, Newson, Coakley, Nunn, Izzet and Mills) with the only slight disappointment was a slack 10 minutes in the second half when our guests nicked a couple of goals. We did really play some great attacking football and put to bed the disappointment of the previous two games.

Ollie Fenn who opened the scoring against Romford

The next game was away at one of the form teams, and a personal local derby for me, that being Brightlingsea Regent. As a club what James Webster and his team have achieved in the past few years has been remarkable. The journey they have been on from the Border League to the top half of the Ryman League Division One North is real ‘Roy of the Rovers’ stuff.

James Webster - he's done plenty of this is recent seasons!

The game itself was not a great one and I suspect the DVD sales were not particularly high?!?!? The match ended up as a 1-0 defeat although I think we should have done better with the chances we had, taking nothing away from the Regent.

One of the key points this game highlighted was how short we were defensively. With Hoggy still injured, Fenny suspended and Nunny playing with a quad strain we had to move Morphs into central defence. He had been ill in the week and when he had to come off it was obvious that we had a problem.

During the following week however we were able to bring Joe Whight into our building from Bury Town (thanks go to their top manager Ben Chennery for helping this go through smoothly). Joe’s debut came firstly on the bench for our next game at home to Aveley.

Joe Whight who has joined the Marketmen from Bury Town

The Millers have had a bit of an up and down season, they turned us over in the reverse fixture back in October and we would need to be at our best to gain revenge for that loss. One of the things we try to get the lads to do is make very positive starts; it has been a feature of recent home games and is a key part of our play.

This match was no different as we looked to move the ball early into the final third and look to be ‘inventive’ in that part of the pitch. Both Bruvs and News had chances to score but as it turned out we did not get the goal we deserved until News notched in the 34th minute.

Early in the second half the decision to bring in Joe was clear as Nunny injury finally took its toll and he hobbled of to be replaced by the debutant. It was a seamless transition with Joe slotting in nicely beside Coaks and Morphs, which allowed another Newson goal and a forced mistake leading to an own goal. A 3-0 win was what we deserved although Aveley did give us a tough time at certain stages in the match.

For the next match against Redbridge I felt it was key that the squad needed to know that our recent away record was not good enough. As was the case we were 15th in the ‘form league’ for away games with our hosts at 5th in the home version of the same stats.

Again a good start was needed and Bruvs gave us this with a fine strike after only 11 minutes. This was no more than we deserved although we did sit back a bit and allowed Redbridge to create a few chances one of which hit the post. This sparked us back into life and we finished the half really well. That trend continued in the second half when two more goals were scored thanks to Crispy and Ingers so 15th place became 13th place.

The next was the first of those challenging ‘catch up’ games at Tilbury and on a really cold windy night we turned in one of the most satisfying performances this term. A solitary penalty from Skipper Izzet was no more than we deserved and in truth it could have been a few more. The win moved us up to 9th in the infamous away form chart.

Last Saturday we welcomed Soham Town Rangers to Bloomfields for the third meeting between the two clubs. Having won the FA Cup tie and the away fixture (in what was one of the best performances of the season) I knew that the Greens would make it tough for us. In all honesty I believe that the two defeats meant they took a very cautious approach allowing us to get a lot of good possession going forward from the start.

News opened the scoring following an excellent reverse pass from Bruvs allowing him to smash to ball into the roof of the net. Soham stuck to their task despite us having by far the lions share of the possession. In fact we didn’t score our second until right at the end of the first half when News netted from close range.

Newson points the way (not to the bar I might add!!)

The second half was really about how we ‘managed’ the game, knowing that STR had to come out and play allowed us to soak that pressure up (thanks to another fine defensive showing) and at times play counter attack football. There were no goals in the second period although we were denied a ‘stonewall’ penalty when Westy was upended in the box. I really do not know what the ref thought he saw (which was a shame as he’d had an excellent match) as the defender managed to take both Westys legs out in the challenge.

That led us onto last night’s game against the Blues of Brentwood. This was to be a real test for us on a very bobbly hard pitch, which meant that both teams took the aerial route for their attacking play in the first half. Both sides really wanted a win for differing reasons and the scattering of Harlow fans obviously were hoping for a home win.

All square at the break it was us that sprinted out of the blocks in the second period, a start that was capped of by a fine Ingers volley from 30 yards. This continued with an extended period of Needham dominance allowing another strike from Ingers and off course News had to notch as well. The only blot on the night was a late consolation goal for our hosts when I was hoping for a fifth clean sheet, although 1 goal conceded in 5 is a decent performance and one that is the bedrock of this season.

Just to return to those stats and we are now up to 5th in the away form league table, keep it going guys!!

It does not matter what level you play at to be successful you need to be defensively strong, I believe my teams have achieved that for many years and it is key that we continue with that aim for the remaining 8 games. I suspect that important part of our play is re-enforced with Nunny returning to the squad last Saturday and this Saturday Hoggy should also return to the fold.

As I speak we have a fully fit squad and have given ourselves a really decent chance at achieving our ultimate aim. However I have been here too many times to be ‘counting my chickens’ etc etc etc.

Harlow manager Danny Chapman knows his team still have time to make up the points shortfall

Danny Chapman’s Harlow team are an excellent outfit and I know they will push us to the end. In fact after their next two tricky fixtures (come on Messrs Webster <Brightlingsea Regent> and Henman <Dereham Town>!!) they have a reasonably easy run in. But we just need to look after ourselves, stick together and see where that takes us.

"Can you do us a favour Matt?"

"Your'e having a laugh Morsley?!?!?"

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