Around the Grounds, No. 8: Plain speaking at King’s Marsh

A typical non-league scene: a stand, a dugout, a tractor, a cone, Columnist Carl Marston captures th

A typical non-league scene: a stand, a dugout, a tractor, a cone, Columnist Carl Marston captures this with his camera while reporting on AFC Sudbury's home match against Bowers & Pitsea last weekend. - Credit: Archant

Football writer Carl Marston dons his anorak to visit clubs in the region (and beyond) in his quest for good football and a good cup of tea. Here he heads to AFC Sudbury

Home fans watching their side in action against Bowers & Pitsea at King's Marsh last weekend. Pictur

Home fans watching their side in action against Bowers & Pitsea at King's Marsh last weekend. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

King’s Marsh is one of my favourite haunts on the Suffolk non-league circuit. And Sudbury is one of my favourite Suffolk destinations.

I’m sufficiently long in the tooth to have reported on many a home game featuring Sudbury Town, a club founded in 1885 who ended their days playing on reclaimed water meadows at Priory Stadium.

Sudbury Town merged with Sudbury Wanderers in 1999, and the new club moved into Wanderers’ home on Brundon Lane at King’s Marsh.

I have been a regular visitor over the last couple of decades, and am always bowled over by the excellent facilities, the envy of most non-league clubs of a similar level.

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A new stand, on the East Side, was built soon after the birth of AFC, and a new clubhouse with education centre soon followed – the club has an excellent Academy – before a 3G artificial pitch was installed in 2015.

It’s a great place to play football, watch football, and report on football.

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I sometimes watch from the main stand, where there is a little press area complete with table, or otherwise I’ll stand by the touchline or (if it’s a bit nippy) look down on the action from the warm confines of the upstairs section of the clubhouse.

In other words, the King’s Marsh press facilities put a few Football League grounds (of yesteryear) in the shade, though granted those that spring to mind – Wigan Athletic’s Springfield Park, Chesterfield’s Saltergate and Doncaster Rovers’ Belle Vue – have long since disappeared.

Long may King’s Marsh reign!

The low-down

Club: AFC Sudbury

Founded: 1999

League: Bostik (Isthmian League) Division One North

Manager: Mark Morsley

Chairman: Phil Turner

The interview

Mark Morsley is not a manager to beat about the bush.

If his team plays badly, he tells you ‘they played badly.’

And that is, alas, what happened on my last visit to King’s Marsh last weekend, when his AFC Sudbury charges slithered to a 1-0 home defeat at the hands of 10-man Bowers & Pitsea.

But Morsley is looking at the bigger picture this season, and more specifically to the fruits of the club’s Academy.

“It’s a huge season for the younger players,” insisted Morsley.

“They have got to step up to the plate. They have got to take it like grown-ups, and they’ve got to take a telling-off, which they have done today.

“But this defeat wasn’t about the younger players letting us down, it was the others I put my trust in. But the buck starts and stops with me.

“We will put it right and I still think we are going to be a force in this league. We have to find the collective inner strength to deal with days like this.

“We will bounce back. We don’t get too excited when we win, like our 4-0 victory at Tilbury at the start of the season, and we won’t get too down when we lose.

“The Academy is huge at this club – it’s part of our DNA.

“It’s the way the club is moving forward. We have a fantastic set-up here. It’s a fantastic place, and is the envy of many other non-league clubs.

“But it’s my responsibility to get the first team higher up the pyramid, and we will do that.”

Referring to last weekend’s defeat, Morsley confessed: “We should have lost by more goals! I don’t make up stories and we were lucky to get just 1-0.

“I don’t know what happened, and I can’t really put my finger on it. We had a real excitement about our play in past weeks, but that was missing. Nothing was there today.

“We had been outstanding in recent weeks, so we have to draw a line under this and hope that it’s just a blip.

“We let a lot of people down, we all have. As a whole club, we should have done better,” added Morsley.

Carl’s visit

Sat, Sept 1: v Bowers & Pitsea (1-0 home defeat). Att: 287.

I turned up last weekend, with pen, paper, lap-top and iPhone, all geared up to report on an AFC Sudbury home victory.

Morsley’s side started poorly, and deservedly fell behind, but they received a lifeline when Bowers’ David Knight was sent off for an off-the-ball kick at home keeper Paul Walker.

There was still 62 minutes to play, plus injury-time, but in truth AFC could have played long into the night and still not scored.

I will return for a better experience later this season – though the half-time cuppa will take some beating!

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