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24 September 2014

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You are in: London > Radio > The Non League Football Show > Your team A-Z > Long Melford FC

Long Melford FC

Long Melford FC

Long Melford FC

Find out about Long Melford FC, from dominating Suffolk, to England internationals. Want to tell us about your club? Email no more than 1000 words, together with some pictures to nonleague@bbc.co.uk

Fact File

Name: Long Melford FC

Nickname : The Villagers

Fascinating Fact:  An England international played for the club in the 1880s – Melford centre forward William Melville Cobbold represented England between 1883 and 1888.

League: Ridgeons Football League

Address: Stoneylands Stadium, New Road, Long Melford, CO10 9JY

Website: www.stoneylands.com

By Andy Cussans

This season is the sixth that Long Melford will be playing in what is now the Ridgeons League following their promotion from the Essex & Suffolk Border League in the summer of 2002.

The first season will be looked upon as further progress for the Stoneylands club as they not only consolidated their place in the First Division, by finishing in a creditable final sixth position, but also won the Suffolk Senior Cup for the eighth time in their history, but for the first time in forty-eight years!

Having dominated the Suffolk Senior Cup in the ‘fifties, with a hat-trick of wins over both neighbours Sudbury (twice) and Ipswich Town at Portman Road from 1952/53 to 1954/55, the county cup was always held dear by many at the Club. Since those halcyon days, the club has returned to Portman Road on three further occasions in an effort to regain the cup without success, but it was to be fourth-time lucky last season.

The final was the icing on the cake for Long Melford and a fitting reward for co-managers Darren Pratt, Jason Stalker and their hard-working squad as they fired their way to a five-goal win over Suffolk & Ipswich League side Stanton in front of over twelve hundred.

1868 and all that

Looking back, history will tell us that the first record of the Club was as long ago as 1868 when Long Melford defeated Ipswich Rangers 5-1 and that the game was played on the Church Green. This period subsequently saw the emergence in the mid 1870s of such sides as Stowmarket and Ipswich Association (now Ipswich Town).

One of Melford’s earliest players was capped for England. William Melville Cobbold, who was born in Long Melford on 4th February 1863 and played in most of the Club’s earliest matches, represented England as centre forward against Scotland, Ireland and Wales between 1883 and 1888.

In the 1887/8 season the Club played 15 games, won 13, drew one and lost one. Having beaten every team in the district they challenged mighty Ipswich Town to a match. Ipswich declined replying to the effect that it would be injurious to Ipswich’s prestige if they play “little village teams”.

Ironically the sides subsequently met in the Suffolk Senior Cup, Semi-final in 1887/88. Ipswich, the Cup holders, were beaten 2-1. After this win one local paper carried the headline “What about the little village now?” Since that day the Club has often been referred to in football circles as ‘The Little Village’, hence our nickname “The Villagers”.

Limited Company

More recently, the summer of 2002 saw the then members club vote for the club’s management and assets to be transferred to a Limited Company. From the 1st August 2002, the Club has been owned and managed by Long Melford Football Club (2002) Limited.

Since taking over at the Club, the new company has concentrated on developing the club both on and off the pitch. The summer of 2002 saw the installation of a new 106 seat main stand, substantial improvements to the players dressing rooms, renovation of the clubhouse, a new players lounge, board room and club office and upgraded floodlights at Stoneylands. Work on the ground has continued with new fencing to better enclose the ground, new players’ showers, a new 300-capacity covered stand behind one goal together with new entry and exit gates for the ground.

With Jason Stalker moving onto Yorkshire, Darren Pratt agreed to take on the Managers role for the start of the 2004/05 season,assisted by Wesley Stalker, former player and Reserve Manager.

A good run at it

The club enjoyed an excellent run in the FA Cup, being knocked out by Yeading who went on to entertain Newcastle United. In the FA Vase the club got through to the last 64, finally losing to Brook House after a replay at Middlesex. There was an early exit in the Suffolk Senior Cup, Melford having lost out last year in the final to Hadleigh after a penalty shoot-out.

Off the pitch, former Managing Director Lee Harding took over at Braintree Town as Chairman and so relinquished an active role at Long Melford. The club welcomed mid-season Richard Powell as Club Secretary, who for many years was at Cornard United.

The Club appointed Richard Carter as First Team Manager for the 2005/2006 Season. During February 2006, Richard Carter stood down as Manager and John Taylor the ex Cambridge United Manager was appointed as his replacement. At the end of February 2007 John Taylor stepped down from his position as Long Melford player/manager, and became manager of Premier Division side Newmarket Town.

Jim Walker replaced John as Melford manager, initially on a caretaker basis. In March , the club appointed Jim Walker and Paul Grainger as joint managers , and after some encouraging performances and results in the spring of 2007 , optimism for the future returned to the club.

The Long Melford Board of Directors soon announced that Jim and Paul will remain in place for the 2007/08 season.

It is hoped that with the club's successful youth structure, a dedicated group of players and officials, and fantastic team spirit the club will move forward this season both on and off the pitch.

last updated: 13/02/2008 at 13:39
created: 09/07/2007

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