Remembering Suffolk's worst winter

PUBLISHED: 15:00 24 December 2009 | UPDATED: 14:38 04 March 2010

FOOTBALL is holding its breath that history does not repeat itself. The last time this part of the world experienced heavy snow around Christmas time it was March before things got back to normal.

FOOTBALL is holding its breath that history does not repeat itself. The last time this part of the world experienced heavy snow around Christmas time it was March before things got back to normal.

For week after week, players were left kicking their heels on Saturday afternoons as the big freeze set in.

Some clubs ended the season playing around two thirds of their fixtures despite a full programme of evening matches being played in April.

Achilles president Dave Routh was involved in the A and Minor League teams during the 1962/63 season and he recalled today the chaos the heavy snow and extreme temperatures produced.

Approaching his 81st birthday and still active in many football-related matters, David recalled: “Achilles' third team should have played 22 league games in Division 3B of the then Ipswich and District League, but ended up playing just 17.

“We never played a match from December 15, 1962 until March 9, 1963.

“Shotley Swifts had a second team in our division and they managed just 14 matches.

“And I can remember booking and then cancelling a coach for our Minor League match against HMS Ganges at Shotley.

“I would ring up Morley's coach company on Monday to order a coach; ringing back on Friday to cancel it.

“This went on for weeks until the game was eventually played.

“It cost us £2 for Morley's to take us to Shotley, a bit more to places like Leiston.”

Achilles ended up playing just 14 games at Minor League level - 10 short of what they should have done.

Whitton won the league despite playing 17 - with a goal record of 167 against 12 - and clubs like Ipswich Lads Club managing to get in 23.

In the Premier Division of the IDL (now the Senior Division of the Suffolk and Ipswich League), Needham Market only played 23 of their 30 scheduled matches in a division won by Waterside Works who completed 28 games.

When the light evenings arrived, teams that were still to play each other met for four points - two for a draw - in an attempt to clear the backlog.

Weather forecasters are predicting an improvement in the days ahead, and the likelihood of a similar freeze-up are said to be slight.

Football authorities, club officials and players alike will hope this proves to be the case.

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