Ferrying cups of tea at Needham Market’s Bloomfields

The press box at Needham Market's Bloomfields, with radio guru Simon Warr in situ. The press box is

The press box at Needham Market's Bloomfields, with radio guru Simon Warr in situ. The press box is a favourite of columnist Carl Marston - 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. Second up is Needham Market

The main stand at Bloomfields, the home of Needham Market FC Picture: CARL MARSTON

The main stand at Bloomfields, the home of Needham Market FC Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Needham Market FC, and Bloomfields in particular, is a thriving place to be these days.

Needham Market's Reece Dobson goes for a header during last weekend's home defeat to Barwell. Pictur

Needham Market's Reece Dobson goes for a header during last weekend's home defeat to Barwell. Picture: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

On the pitch, the Marketmen, with the experienced Richard Wilkins at the helm, are holding their own in Step Three of non-league.

Jack Dye, Needham Market's man of the match against Barwell, puts in a sliding tackle. Picture: BEN

Jack Dye, Needham Market's man of the match against Barwell, puts in a sliding tackle. Picture: BEN POOLEY - Credit: Archant

And off it, the Bloomfields site has been transformed in recent years. A state-of-the-art 3G pitch was recently installed next-door to the main surface, an additional small stand was erected, and building work is well under way to establish new changing rooms, a function room and a community cafe.

And on a personal note, I love the rickety press box that sits above the half-way line. The view is great and it’s like working in a gentleman’s garden shed, elevated on stilts.

The low-down

Club: Needham Market FC

Most Read

Founded: 1919

League: Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Central

Manager: Richard Wilkins

Chairman: Keith Nunn

The interview

Needham Market manager, Richard Wilkins, is in unfamiliar surroundings plying his trade in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Central this season.

After eight seasons of gracing the (Bostik) Isthmian League, the Marketmen were one of a few clubs to shift sideways to the Southern League this summer, other newcomers also arriving from the Northern Premier League.

As a result, the Southern League is a bit of an unknown for most clubs this term.

It’s certainly a difficult one to call, during these opening weeks, with Needham having won 4-0 at Bedworth United on the first day and thrashed Hitchin Town 8-1 just three days later, before slithering to a 2-0 home defeat to Barwell only last weekend.

“My job is a bit more difficult not knowing the opposition,” admits Wilkins, the former Bury Town and Leiston boss.

“It’s very difficult, I knew a bit about Hitchin, that they were missing a few players and had a few playing in different positions, round pegs in square holes.

- Around the Grounds No.1: Framlingham Town’s Badingham Road

“I knew that Hitchin was a good opportunity for us, but I didn’t know much about Barwell. I just made a couple of phone calls.

“So it will take time for this division to bed down.”

Ironically, I have watched, and reported on, Wilkins’ footballing career quite closely over the last three decades.

He was in Cambridge United’s extremely successful side of the early 1990s, under John Beck, when I used to cover the Abbey Stadium club for this newspaper.

I moved on to reporting on Colchester United from that year, and Wilkins himself arrived at Layer Road four years later, to operate to good effect as a captain, central midfielder and even centre-half as the U’s, under Steve Wignall, eventually won promotion to the third tier.

Then, blow me down, when Wilkins’ playing career ended in 2000, he spent the next 14 seasons as manager of Bury Town, my home-town club!

Back to the present, and Wilkins says of his current charges: “We’ve still had a decent start, despite Saturday’s defeat.

“We would have been happy with six points from the first three games, though we are not happy with this loss.

“We played it all down after Tuesday (8-1 win). Other people were getting carried away, but not us, because football has a habit of kicking you up the backside.

“That game (Barwell) reminded me of quite a few last season, and I won’t let that happen this year because we have a lot better players this year, we have proved that already. I won’t let that level happen again.”

Carl’s visit

Sat, Aug 18: v Barwell (2-0 home defeat). Att: 266.

Well, I was put to work, as soon as I arrived at Bloomfields.

Making my way around the pitch to the press box, on the far side of the ground, I had not even opened my lap-top when Suffolk radio guru, Simon Warr, suggested that I retrace my steps and grab him a cup of tea, because he was feeling parched.

I’m no pushover (I’d like to think), but faced with the prospect of sitting next to a thirsty Mr Warr for the next 90 minutes or more, I decided to curry favour and oblige. Anything for a quiet life.

It was therefore back to the directors’ lounge to secure Mr Warr’s cuppa, where I duly returned at half-time to get my own.

Mr Warr had to get his own at half-time, because he wanted cake as well– I can be pushed too far!

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter