TOUCHLINE SUFFOLK & IPSWICH LEAGUE PREVIEW: Long-awaited changing rooms set for grand opening at Benhall St Mary this weekend where there will be a newly-formed, but familiar-looking uncompromising partnership at the centre of defence

Chris Wright (left) and Gavin Jennings (right) celebrating a rare goal for Wright in their Leiston d

Chris Wright (left) and Gavin Jennings (right) celebrating a rare goal for Wright in their Leiston days

With some long-awaited changing rooms set for their grand opening this weekend and a newly-formed, but familiar-looking uncompromising partnership at the centre of defence, these are exciting times at Touchline Suffolk & Ipswich Division One outfit, Benhall St Mary.

Benhall St Mary celebrating winning SIL Division Two last season

Benhall St Mary celebrating winning SIL Division Two last season - Credit: Archant

After year upon year of getting changed in damp sheds with an array of plants, moss, and all kinds of creepy-crawlies to contend with, as well as no showers, and little running water, you cannot blame the level of excitement in the Benhall camp at present.

The newly-promoted Suffolk side, who stormed into this division following a rampaging and title-winning 2013/14 campaign, will be sure to make full use of their excellent new facilities for the first time tomorrow as they host Sporting 87.

Previously starved of space, water, warmth, and all other comforts they’re not usually used to, some funding from the FA as well as other organisations, has allowed the club to help them build foundations for future aspirations.

Work on the new changing rooms began in June, and four months down the line, the long-awaited prized assets are ready.


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Gracing the turf at centre-back for Benhall tomorrow will be Chris Wright and Gavin Jennings, who have a host of Eastern Counties League and SIL experience together, mostly with Leiston, as well as at Stowmarket Town and Leiston St Margarets.

The duo, who were valuable assets at opposite ends of the pitch for a Leiston side at the time managed by Chris’s dad Steve Wright, winning promotion and reaching two Suffolk Premier Cup finals, now form a formidable partnership at the back for Benhall, nicknamed ‘The Badgers’.

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“Like for most of his career, I’m looking after Chrissy,” joked Jennings, who repeatedly gets reminded by the man himself that Wright (154) made one more league appearance than Jennings (153) for Leiston.

“It’s a pleasure as always to play with him,” added a tongue-in-cheek Jennings, 37, who made his name as a striker in his early career.

In fact, Jennings and Wright are just a number of players at the club with experience at a higher level – Chris Sillett, Ross Pemberton, and Jerome Trotter are three others to make their names prominent ones elsewhere previously.

It is no wonder then that Benhall are aiming for a history-making season this time around.

The Badgers currently sit fourth in the league, with Jennings adding: “Promotion is the aim without a doubt, it is the number one priority.

“The Junior Cup would be nice as well, and Alan (Crick, the manager) has a strong squad.”

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