Thurston are latest Suffolk & Ipswich League team to pull out of division


Thurston FC are the latest club to announce that they are leaving the Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich League.

The Bury St Edmunds-based side, who were competing in SIL Division Three, withdrew their first-team with immediate effect earlier this week.

Their reserves however, will continue to ply their trade in the Bury-based St Edmundsbury Football League as normal.

Adding to the demise of SIL clubs Aldeburgh Town and Melton St Audry’s earlier this month, the main reason for Thurston’s departure from the league is again down to a player commitment.

“We folded due to a number of reasons, but mainly because of player commitment,” explains Thurston manager Tom Parkington.

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“We have a core of players who are slightly older who have work and family commitments.

“Unfortunately we haven’t been able to attract younger players into the club, and we simply don’t have a squad enough strong enough to challenge in the SIL.”

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Parkington, a club development officer at Bury Town, accepts that there is an ongoing problem with non-league grassroots football, and thinks the league can come up with ideas to help clubs.

“Local football is not like it was five or 10 years ago,” he admitted.

“Times have changed, and the league needs to move on with the times.

“Work schedules mean a lot of players work until lunchtime now, meaning they often can’t make long away games (all SIL games in the winter kick-off at 2pm).

“I think the league can be more flexible in terms of travelling distances.

“I’d consider, especially from Divisions Three down, a west and east section, for example.”

Formed 52 years ago, Thurston, first moved into the SIL 17 years ago in 1997, enthused by the challenge of what Parkington described as a ‘more competitive league’.

Fighting their way up through the divisions, Thurston’s defining moment came in the 2009-10 season, when they missed out on promotion to the Senior Division by one point on the last day of the season.

“We conceded a last-minute goal to draw the game, and therefore missed out on promotion,” explained Parkington.

“Stanton and Haughley went up that year, and that could have been us, we could have attracted younger players, and we would probably still be in the SIL now.”

As Thurston have dropped down the division, player numbers have decreased.

As a consequence of Thurston’s exit, only one team will now be relegated from Division Three at the end of the season.

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