Around the Non-League Grounds, No: 1: Success at Framlingham Town
PUBLISHED: 10:18 17 August 2018
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. First up is Framlingham Town
Welcome to the first in a series of (who knows how many there will be) non-league grounds that I have visited, or will visit, during the course of this season.
And where better place to start than Badingham Road, the proud home of Framlingham Town, and more specifically Framlingham Sports Club.
An exciting season lies ahead for The Castlemen, who ply their trade just a few hundred yards from Framlingham Castle.
Relegated into the depths of Division One of the Suffolk & Ipswich League in 2011-12, from the Senior Division, the club has bounced back with a remarkable three promotions in the last four seasons.
Having been promoted back into the SIL Premier in 2014-15, the Castlemen were elevated into the Eastern Counties League for the first time the following season.
And, following a seventh-placed finish in their first campaign at Division One level, they finished second behind champions Woodbridge Town last term to reach the heady heights of the ECL Premier Division.
Alas, I wasn’t at Ely City to watch their historic first match at this level (Step Five in non-league circles, or in other words the ninth tier of the Football League pyramid) on the opening day of the season, but I did follow the scenic A1120 road through Stowupland and Debenham on a balmy evening to attend their first home fixture in the Premier Division, just three days later.
It was a big night for the Club, and an encouraging one (a crowd of more than 100), despite the disappointing result, a 3-0 defeat to promotion favourites Stowmarket Town.
Club: Framlingham Town FC
Ground: Badingham Road (since 1951)
League: (Thurlow Nunn) Eastern Counties League Premier Division
Manager: Liam Abrahams
Chairman Dean Warner
Dean Warner, has been associated with the Castlemen for more than 20 years and, in his current capacity as chairman, he has presided over the most successful spell in the Club’s history.
Naturally, he is proud of the Clubs achievements.
“I first became involved as a parent, when my son Darren was playing. Then I was a sponsor, a youth chairman, vice-senier chairman and now this is my fourth season as chairman,” explained Warner.
“Mel Aldis (former manager) was obviously a big factor in the club’s rise, as he is a big factor at any club that he is involved in.
“The club also had the ambition to go forward, so Mel returned at the right time. It was a good combination.
“Most of the current first-team players have come up through our youth team, so they all know each other very well.
“They work well together, and gel as a team, so everything fits together very well. We have all the pieces of the jigsaw together.
“We haven’t had to bring in new players from left, right and centre. They all have a feel for the club.
“The team did well in their first season in Division One (of the Thurlow Nunn), and even better the second time by winning promotion last season.
“All the committee have worked hard to move this club forward, as have the Sports Club – the football club just happens to be a big section of Framlingham Sports Club.
“We are in a tough league now, and I think ‘consolidation’ is a fair word to describe our aim for this season. I’m pretty sure we will do well, as soon as we find our feet at this level
“We have a new manager in Liam Abraham who is another club stalwart. In fact, Liam played in the same team as my son Darren, 20-plus years ago. He has been a good club-man.
“These last few years, the formula has just worked to bring success in a short space of time,” added Warner
Tues, August 7: v Stowmarket Town (3-0 home defeat). Att: 111.
On the pitch, Stowmarket’s experience told, especially in midfield, but Fram showed enough spirit and endeavour to suggest that they will not look out of place at this level.
Off the pitch, this was a very hospitable evening, capped by tea and cake in the directors/officials room at half-time, which always tends to lead to me write a better class of report for the following day’s newspaper!