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Review of the 2017 season in the East Anglian Premier League – Sudbury champions and Bury avoid bottom spot

PUBLISHED: 16:00 26 September 2017

Sudbury captain Tom Huggins, who starred with bat and the ball as his side won the EAPL for the first time in their history. Picture: RICHARD MARSHAM

Sudbury captain Tom Huggins, who starred with bat and the ball as his side won the EAPL for the first time in their history. Picture: RICHARD MARSHAM

Richard Marsham - RMG Photography Tel - 07798 758711

Cricket correspondent CARL MARSTON reviews the East Anglian Premier League season, which ended with Sudbury winning the title for the first-ever time

Sudbury's first-team squad celebrate clinching the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League title. Picture: RMG PHOTOGRAPHY Sudbury's first-team squad celebrate clinching the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League title. Picture: RMG PHOTOGRAPHY

Swardeston’s long reign as champions of the Gibbs Denley East Anglian Premier League was always going to end at some time, but very few would have predicted that their crown would be taken by Sudbury.

The Norfolk club had topped the league for five years on the bounce, and were again the favourites to clinch the title for a sixth year on the trot in 2017.

And in truth, Swardeston did come very close to achieving that goal, only to be pipped by a Sudbury side who had only clinched promotion back to the EAPL at the end of 2015 by winning the Two Counties Championship.

Sudbury led the league from the first weekend to the last, and fully deserved their first-ever EAPL title, after finishing seventh in their first season back at the top tier of regional club cricket in 2016.

Frinton captain, Kyran Young, batting at Mildenhall during the season. His side finished sixth. Picture: RICHARD MARSHAM Frinton captain, Kyran Young, batting at Mildenhall during the season. His side finished sixth. Picture: RICHARD MARSHAM

Cambridge Granta, second to Swardeston last year, were always off the pace, while the likes of Frinton and Copdock & Old Ipswichian both lacked the consistency to mount a title push. Frinton were hampered by bad weather and Copdock by injuries to key players.

At the other end of the table, Bury St Edmunds were once again involved in a desperate struggle to avoid relegation.

Bury have become masters of escaping bottom spot, after awful first-half-of-the-seasons in recent years, and again they managed to clamber off the basement, with a little help from Horsford’s 30-point deduction for an unfit pitch in the abandoned match against Copdock at the end of July.

As it happened, there was no relegation from the EAPL this year, with none of the winners from the three feeder leagues, including the Two Counties champions Elmstead, wanting to join the EAPL, with all of its bigger commitments and financial implications.

Copdock & OI captain, Tom Rash, whose side finished in fifth spot this season. Their cause was not helped by injuries. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT Copdock & OI captain, Tom Rash, whose side finished in fifth spot this season. Their cause was not helped by injuries. Picture: ANDY ABBOTT

But the fact that Bury finished second-from-bottom, and not bottom, was a big fillip for Sean Park’s young side.

Copdock (fifth) and Frinton (sixth) both had solid campaigns, while newly-promoted Mildenhall, so impressive during the first couple of months of the summer, endured a tough second half of the season before ending in ninth.

Here is a run-down of our five clubs from the reign, with a recap of their pre-summer hopes plus their post-season thoughts.

Sudbury bowler Dustin Melton, who was the leading wicket-taker in the EAPL with 43 wickets during the course of the season. Picture : RICHARD MARSHAM Sudbury bowler Dustin Melton, who was the leading wicket-taker in the EAPL with 43 wickets during the course of the season. Picture : RICHARD MARSHAM

SUDBURY

Placing: 1st (league champions) with 16 wins & 445pts

Pre-summer quotes: “We definitely want to be challenging near the top” – club captain Darren Batch.

Post-summer quotes: “This was such an easy side to captain! We had four front-line seamers, and I always had five or six bowlers to call upon, which other captains did not have. We also always managed to bounce back, whenever we suffered a defeat” – first team skipper Tom Huggins.

COPDOCK & OLD IPSWICHIAN

Placing: 5th with 10 wins, 333pts

Pre-summer quotes: “I’m not making any predictions. I’m certainly not going to be drawn into saying we can win it!” – captain Tom Rash.

Post-summer quotes: “We were inconsistent all season, not just from game-to-game, but within games as well” – captain Rash.

FRINTON-ON-SEA

Placing: 6th with 8 wins, 327pts

Pre-summer quotes: “We’re looking to win the title this year. We’re looking to bring home some silverware” – captain Kyran Young.

Post-summer quotes: “We fell away a bit during the last couple of games. We certainly targeted to be near the top, which is where we should have been, but a lot of things transpired against us.

“Our overseas player calling off a week before the season did not help, and we felt that all summer, while we had four matches rained off which equates to a potential 100 points. We were on top in three of those, while the Burwell match was called off the night before” – captain Young.

MILDENHALL

Placing: 9th with 6 wins, 240pts

Pre-summer quotes: “If you ask anyone around the club, they will say that finishing 11th (out of 12) would be a success this season, but I’m hoping for slightly more than that” – captain Ben Shepperson.

BURY ST EDMUNDS

Placing: 11th with 4 wins, 207pts

Pre-summer quotes: “I’m looking towards a mid-table position. We’re hoping to give some key youngsters more experience” – captain Sean Park.

Post-summer quotes: “We have been near the bottom for the last three years, and have still not gone down. Hopefully, we will be a little bit wiser in future years. I’ve enjoyed the challenge as skipper, and we’re pleased not to finish bottom” – captain Park.

“We might not be the best, but we keep going. It’s an endearing quality we have.”

Focus on the strengths, recognise the weaknesses and enjoy the ride.

Watch match highlights of Ipswich Town’s 2-2 draw at Hull City on Saturday.

A point at Hull City should not be seen as anything other than a good result ordinarily and the fact that we gained that point with a late equaliser certainly felt better than a loss. But were they not there for the taking on the day?

It was certainly an eventful day for David McGoldrick.

Jordan Spence believes his late leveller at Hull shows the character of the Ipswich Town squad.

Ipswich Town drew 2-2 at Hull City in a Championship match this afternoon. STUART WATSON highlights the key talking points.

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy hailed his side’s fighting spirit after Jordan Spence netted a late leveller in this afternoon’s 2-2 draw at Hull City.

Jordan Spence scores late equaliser for Ipswich as the blues earns a point at the KCOM Stadium.

Sports writer Andy Warren rates the Ipswich Town players following their dramatic 2-2 draw at Hull.

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