Carl Marston's 'Around the Grounds': a visit to Whitton United
PUBLISHED: 18:06 27 January 2019
Football writer Carl Marston dons his anorak to visit clubs in the region (and beyond) in his quest for a good football and a good cup of tea. Here he heads to Whitton United
I felt that as though I had visited Whitton United’s ground, at King George V Playing Fields, on many, many occasions.
But the truth of the matter is that I had driven past it, probably thousands of times, on my way to work from Bury St Edmunds to the old Archant offices on Lower Brook Street.
I remember the old Tooks Bakery site, sprawled along Old Norwich Road close to the football ground, which closed in 2001 and was eventually demolished seven years ago.
But although I felt as though I was on familiar territory, I am ashamed to say that last week was my first-ever visit to Whitton United FC’s much-loved, and much-viewed (from car windows) home.
Club: Whitton United
Ground: King George V Playing Fields
Manager: Shane Coldron
Chairman: Ruel Fox
Although Whitton United can trace its history back to the 1800s, the present-day club was formed in 1926 and has spent most of its time at King George V Playing Fields, with the exception of the first few years.
The club initially played its football on a pitch behind the Whitton Crown pub, and had a second pitch at Grove Meadow, on Whitton Church Lane where, apparently, cows grazed during the week, so necessitating the removal of the goal-posts at the end of the game – according to the club’s history section, these goalposts were left in a hedge, presumably until they were extracted for the next home game.
After just a couple of years the club switched to a pitch behind the Whitton Maypole pub, for a short spell, before settling at their current site.
Naturally, the Greens have had their ups-and-downs, over the last eight or so decades.
They played in front of a crowd of more than 8,000, at Portman Road, when they lost 3-1 to Lowestoft Town in the Suffolk Senior Cup final of 1948.
Since then, they have gone on to lift that cup on five occasions, beginning with back-to-back successes in 1959 and 1960, both over Bungay Town.
A low ebb was reached during the 1970s, when Whitton slid into Division Two of the Ipswich & District League, but they won the Senior Division in 1994-95 to win promotion to the Eastern Counties League.
In more recent times, they won promotion to the ECL Premier Division in 2008, only to withdraw from the league midway through the following season. They were back in the Premier Division in 2014, and again in 2017, sandwiching a relegation.
Whitton recorded their highest ever league position, with an 11th placed finish in 2014-15, and no doubt have an eye on that landmark this term.
Manager Shane Coldron has brought a good deal of success to Whitton United, since his appointment in the early summer of 2017.
Following last season’s promotion, when they finished third behind Woodbridge and Framlingham in Division One, the Greens have had a satisfactory first year back in Step Five.
Last Saturday’s 2-2 home draw against Long Melford at least brought a halt to a run of three successive defeats, all at home to Great Yarmouth, Gorleston and Godmanchester Rovers.
“I don’t want to change our style,” explained Coldron.
“I think, going forward, we will learn from this season. I’ve noticed that most teams play the same, 4-5-1 and hit the channels.
“Teams are more physical and more direct, but I’d rather not play that way. I want us to be more entertaining.
“We have been conceding too many goals lately, and yet still only losing matches by the odd goal, so we are almost there.
“We need one or two new players, but we should improve next season.
“This season, we just need a few more points to be safe and then kick on. We are playing lots of teams in and around us in the next few games, several away from home.
“Teams are beating each other in this league. Most of them are very direct, but I think that Histon have it (the title) in the bag, although Godmanchester will give them a run for their money,” added Coldron.
Tues, Jan 15: v Godmanchester Rovers (2-1 away win).
As so often happens, I brought the home side no luck at all. They were undone by a deadly free-kick.