Haughley return to senior football after coming back from the brink

FOOTBALL: Hats off to Haughley United – back from the dead and returning to the Senior Division of the Kingsley Healthcare SIL tomorrow.

Three seasons ago they almost folded after a mass exodus of players left them with a delicate decision to make.

To their credit they decided to ride out the storm however much it hurt.

And it must have hurt as they suffered defeat after defeat recording just a 3-2 victory at Westerfield United to end the campaign on three points!

Haughley disbanded their reserve side, and played out the 2007/08 season with youngsters and even schoolboys in the Senior Division.

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Now they can look back with pride on keeping a club with the traditions of Haughley – SIL titles in 1982 and 1996 and a Senior Cup final in 1998 – alive.

“We’ve back where we want to be,” said chairman Chris Faiers, who oversaw the trauma of three years ago.

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“But to be honest we’ve arrived in the top flight earlier than expected.

“The aim was not to move up from Division One last season, but things went our way and the players gelled into a successful side.”

Haughley won the title after an incredibly close climax, and manager Adam Riggey, who took over when the club was at its lowest ebb, is now looking to consolidate again in the top flight.

The village side’s reserves were resurrected and dispensed to the Bury and District League for a couple of seasons as the club was stabilized, but they are now back in the SIL – in Intermediate B.

“A lot of people put in a lot of hard work after we lost two managers in the summer of 2007 and lost our way for a while,” added Faiers.

“And I think we can look back with a certain amount of pride at what we have achieved.”

Shaun Taplin is one player who stayed loyal through all the upheaval while Ashleigh Hawes had a brief stay at Stowupland. Riggey has brought in Gareth Ward, Callum McLuckie and Dave Anderson from Stowmarket Town this summer, and Haughley start off with a test of their capabilities with a home game against a fancied Achilles side.

Champions Old Newton, who have produced an excellent book to help celebrate their half century, face a trip to Melton St Audry’s, while Woodbridge Athletic are expected to mount another serious challenge for the title.

They have strengthened their squad and begin with a home encounter against Coplestonians, who are now ironically playing home matches at Athletic’s former pitch at Notcutt’s Park, Woodbridge.

Grundisburgh had an unusually quiet 2009/10, but with Micky Squirrell, Kevin Cunningham and Dave King still pulling the strings the village side can be expected to make an impact again.

They start with a visit from Felixstowe United who no doubt still feel aggrieved at the controversial way they missed out on the title for fielding an ineligible player last term.

If this campaign works out as exciting and interesting as 2009/10 it will be well worth watching.

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