Carl Marston’s Around the Grounds: Mildenhall Town’s Recreation Way
- 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 for Mildenhall Town’s Recreation Way
It is only 13 miles from my house, to the home of Mildenhall Town FC, hence I have always enjoyed my trips to Recreation Way.
I have actually run this route in the past, when I was a lot fitter and perhaps slightly more ‘unhinged,’ following the Lark Valley Way footpath through Culford and West Stow.
But last Saturday I travelled to the West Suffolk derby, between Mildenhall and local rivals Bury Town, in more conventional fashion – in a car via the villages of Hengrave, Lackford and Icklingham.
The Hall have been a success story of recent years, winning the Thurlow Nunn Premier title in 2017 to reach Step Four for the first time in their history.
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A respectable 22nd-placed finish in their first year at Bostik North level (six points clear of bottom club Norwich United) has been followed by a more challenging current season.
Ricky Cornish, who took over the managerial reins just before Christmas, has a fight on his hands to keep the club in this division.
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They are currently second from bottom, but I saw enough spirit and endeavour from last weekend’s goalless draw against play-off chasing Bury – especially when they were playing ‘downhill’ – to suggest that The Hall have a good chance of beating the drop.
Mildenhall Town won the Suffolk Junior Cup in only their second season, in 1900, before going on to join the Bury & District League in 1945, and then the Cambridgeshire League (1969).
They eventually joined the Eastern Counties League (current Thurlow Nunn) in 1988, as founder members of the new Division One, clinching promotion to the Premier Division 11 years later.
History was made two seasons ago, when The Hall won the Thurlow Nunn Premier title to be promoted to the Isthmian League.
Ground-wise, The Hall played at a variety of different venues, before settling at Recreation Way at about the time of their switch to the Bury & District League, at the end of World War II.
The club had been gifted the site by the Bunhill family, and changes were made in 1970 when the pitch was rotated 90 degrees, after the cricket club departed (they now play at Wamil Way).
New facilities were added after The Hall won promotion to the Eastern Counties League, with a new clubhouse built in 1991, just two years after a 250-capacity standing area was erected.
In more recent times, floodlights were installed in 1989, and a new 50-seat stand added two years ago.
Club: Mildenhall Town
Formed: 1898 (121 years ago)
Ground: Recreation Way
Manager: Ricky Cornish
Ricky Cornish who, as it happens, walks his dog around the same fields that I often frequent with my own dog, Oscar, replaced Dean Greygoose on the Mildenhall Town hot seat before Christmas.
The former Cambridge United trainee, who was also on the books of Bristol City and Aldershot Town, celebrated his 48th birthday last December, but at the time was still playing as a defender at Diss Town.
He is certainly relishing his first job in football management.
“I am loving it at Mildenhall. It’s a great set-up, a great bunch of people and the crowd is fantastic,” enthused Cornish.
“What more can you ask for, from your local football club?
“We are doing we all can to stay in this league, and the only way is up for us.
“I am loving it here I’m probably doing 30 hours a week, on top of my own job, so it’s tough, but I couldn’t be happier, at a club I love, and with people that care.
“I have quality here. In fact, it was never about not having the quality, but about having the confidence.
“The players have that now, and they are enjoying their football. I haven’t had to make wholesale changes,” added Cornish, who has played for the likes of Diss, Mildenhall, Newmarket, Lakeneath and AFC Sudbury.
Carl’s last visit
Sat, Feb 16, 2019: v Bury Town (Bostik North, 0-0 draw)
This was no classic. Instead, it was a typical blood-and-thunder local derby.
Bury, playing down an appreciable slope in the first half, had the upper hand, but Mildenhall gained the ascendancy playing downhill in the second.
And as manager Cornish told me last week: “Going up the hill is hard; going down the hill is better for us.”