In a sleepy corner of rural Suffolk sits a club clearly on the up. Destined to be stuck in the depths of the 10th tier until a new owner and new vision came in two years ago, Stowmarket are arguably the form team in the eastern county. With the team chasing a double promotion and a striker on 50 goals for the season, I take a trip to the old gold and blacks to see them take on Ipswich Wanderers…
Tucked away in sleepy Mid-Suffolk, Stowmarket Town are having something of a renaissance. Forever in the doldrums of local football, they’re now sitting third, pushing for promotion in the Thurlow Nunn premier after winning the first division for the first time in their history. A new owner has transformed the club. Players from local heavyweights Leiston and Bury Town have dropped down two tiers to play for the club. Essentially at this level, more than anywhere else arguably, money talks.
It’s a short drive from home to Greens Meadow, where they’re set to take on the struggling Ipswich Wanderers. Locals are confident of a big win, and why not? They have one of the most prolific strikers in the country in Josh Mayhew. It’s only February and he’s hit 45 league goals. The locals can’t quite believe it. Wanderers have conceded 82 this season, so the omens don’t look good. The grounds quaint, well painted and great little clubhouse. A good range of beers and six nations on big screens is bringing in the punters.
The game kicks off with Stowmarket on the front foot. It’s freezing cold but there’s a big crowd turned out to support the boys. It’s not hard to see why at times, fast paced, attacking football is clearly the mantra at the club. Two quick first half goals seem path of the course. In all honesty, it’s premier league vs league two. Ipswich are rubbish. I’m not sure they had a shot all game.
Stowmarket dominate the rest of the game, but just don’t take their chances. A couple of great saves from the Ipswich keeper and a reluctance to shoot from anywhere further than 6 yards keep Ipswich level. It’s too easy, there’s no challenge. A third goal and second of the game for Mayhew wraps things up. Truth be told, Ipswich never posed a threat.
Stowmarket are clearly a club on the up. Even if they don’t go up this year, it’s only a matter of time before they do. They’re a club with ambition, flair and real style. They’re worth watching – the grounds good, the beers cheap, and most of all the football is of a real quality the 9th tier rarely sees. Catch it while it lasts, because as with all big money owners, it won’t last forever.
[Edit: Stowmarket don’t actually have a new owner, just a benefactor who has stepped on board in recent months]