Ipswich Exiles senior team fold – a sad day for local football in the region
The difficulties in running local football sides were again illustrated this week when long established Ipswich Exiles senior side folded.
The history of the club saw the original Ipswich YMCA Youth side, managed by former rugby stalwarts Bruce Gant and Bob Robinson, who were Ipswich & District Minor League champions in 1955, end up emerging as Ipswich Exiles in 1958.
A young player in those early days was Eric Dickerson who went on to take on many roles at the club, including secretary, until his untimely stroke three years ago.
In that time he kept the club afloat with his huge dedication, and finally seeing his dream realised, the club gaining Senior football after promotion from the Suffolk & Ipswich League Division One, in 2012.
However they were relegated the following season.
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Eric and hard-working chairman Mike Hays then brought in Danny Banthorpe and Leon Phillips, who had gained successive promotions with Westerfield ‘A’ and Waterside FC. And they had a good first season reaching the last eight of the Junior Cup and The Bob Coleman Cup semi-final. Phillips moved on half way through the following season and Banthorpe did well before calling it a day at the end of the campaign.
The last two seasons have seen several changes in management ending with Nathan Turner leaving in February of this year.
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A gradual decline in performance had taken centre stage and after a narrow escape in 2016, despite dropping the Reserve side, Exiles were relegated this season.
Ollie Langham has been tireless in administration and playing roles, assisted by Joey Catalanotto trying to save the club but to no avail.
Hopefully, there is light at the end of the tunnel for Exiles, with the successful youth set-up still going strong.
Maybe they will be ready for adult football in a couple of years time – and maybe, just maybe, the Eric Dickerson legacy will live on.
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