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Around the Grounds: Tough times at Hadleigh United’s Millfield

PUBLISHED: 08:30 18 January 2019 | UPDATED: 15:05 18 January 2019

A sign of Hadleigh United's current plight? They are second-from-bottom of the Thurlow Nunn Premier

A sign of Hadleigh United's current plight? They are second-from-bottom of the Thurlow Nunn Premier

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 Hadleigh United

The sun has set, and the floodlights are on, during last Saturday's match at Hadleigh, which visiting Walsham-le-Willows (yellow shirts) won 1-0. Pictures: CARL MARSTONThe sun has set, and the floodlights are on, during last Saturday's match at Hadleigh, which visiting Walsham-le-Willows (yellow shirts) won 1-0. Pictures: CARL MARSTON

It has been an unsettling last couple of weeks at Hadleigh United, who play their football at the bottom of Tinkers Lane beside the River Brett at The Millfield.

Manager Shane Wardley stood down just three days before my planned first visit, last weekend, with the Brettsiders struggling nearly the foot of the Thurlow Nunn Premier table.

Only Framlingham Town, ironically my first port of call in this current ‘Around the Grounds’ Series, back in early August, were keeping them off the basement.

These are tough times at Hadleigh, who won the Premier Division title for the first time in their history, only five years ago.

Rolf Beggerow, Hadleigh United's chairman and treasurer.Rolf Beggerow, Hadleigh United's chairman and treasurer.

So I guess that I could have timed my visit better!

The low-down

Club: Hadleigh United

Founded: 1892

Ground: The Millfield (since 1954)

Chairman: Rolf Beggerow

A peak through the entrance into The Millfield, the home of Hadleigh UnitedA peak through the entrance into The Millfield, the home of Hadleigh United

The interview

Rolf Beggerow has been associated with Hadleigh United FC for several decades, and is still the current chairman and secretary.

So who better to speak to, about the club’s past, present and future, than Mr Beggerow himself?

As with all my ‘best’ interviews, it was conducted while surrounded by cups of tea and plates of biscuits in the directors’ lounge.

“I go back nearly 30 years. My son was 11 at the time, and he’s now 39,” explained Beggerow.

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“I came to watch, to start with, along with all the other Dads on the touch-line, watching my boy play.

“In those days we only had a very small youth section, starting at the age of 11 with a maximum of four or five youth teams.

“Now we have about 17 youth teams – every age group is covered, ‘A’ and ‘B.’

“My background was originally finance. I am a qualified accountant, so I soon became treasurer for the youth section.

“Then I was quite instrumental in getting the club together, as one club. Previously it had been a separate youth club and a senior club, but now we can look back and say that it has worked well. The youth club still operates as a sub-group of the main club, and is fairly self-sufficient,

“I later became involved as treasurer of the main club, and sorted out what were some serious financial issues of the day. The club was in debt, big-time, in the early 1990s. As a treasurer, I inherited a club in debt, and let’s just say there were one or two areas of mismanagement!

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“But now we are on a sound footing, we don’t have any debts whatsoever, and we always work within our financial means,” added Beggerow, who had a couple of years as chairman before returning to the post in 2011.

Of Hadleigh’s current situation, Beggerow said: “Football is so fickle at this level, that your fortunes can change dramatically and very quickly.

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“Primarily in our case that was for financial reasons and specifically the loss of a major sponsor a few seasons ago.

“This meant we had to seriously trim our players’ budget, which led to a mass exodus of players. It’s a fact of life that some aren’t as loyal as you would have hoped, and that the experienced players tend to follow the money.

“That’s where we are at, with our emphasis on youth. We also have about 90 volunteers working behind the scenes. Now we hope to appoint a new manager by the end of this month.”

Carl’s visit

Sat, Jan 12, 2019: v Walsham-le-Willows (1-0 away win).

A tight game against the high-flying Willows. Hadleigh didn’t deserve to lose ... but they did! However, there’s hope for the rest of the season, certainly.


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