Club stalwart refutes league jibe

SOCCER: Needham Market legend Derrick Bloomfield today refuted suggestions that clubs are wasting their time playing in the First Division of the Jewson League.

By Elvin King

NEEDHAM Market legend Derrick Bloomfield today refuted suggestions that clubs are wasting their time playing in the First Division of the Jewson League.

The Needham general secretary has been associated with the club for 55 years – and said they have never played at a better level.

They moved from the Metaltec SIL six years ago, and Bloomfield said he has no regrets whatsoever about the decision.

"The last thing I want to do is to knock the SIL, but it is a complete new ball game in the Jewson League," he said. "The First Division has been termed a nothing league, but nothing could be further from the truth.

"We play competitive games every week and play at some wonderful games. We have made a tremendous amount of progress since we moved up from the SIL.

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"This is not to say that we are not looking to move on. I am 73, and my ambition is to see Needham in the Premier Division before I retire."

Two clubs from the First Division of the Jewson League are in tomorrow's Suffolk Senior Cup semi-finals – Leiston and Haverhill Rovers – and it is the first time for ages when no SIL side has featured in the last four.

Bloomfield sees this as a sign of the strength of the division and said that his argument is endorsed by the interest currently being shown in the Jewson League.

"Clubs are champing at the bit to join the Jewson League," he added as he took a break from preparing the Needham ground that is named after him – Bloomfields – for tomorrow's home game against bottom club March Town.

"Long Melford are desperate to move up from the Border League, while Senior Cup holders Kirkley have made it known they would like to leave the Anglian Combination.

"Grundisburgh are not the only SIL club who have hinted they would move up if their facilities allowed. Possibly village clubs are more suited to the SIL and good luck to them.

"Leiston appear over the moon at their switch last summer and with other clubs like ourselves, Woodbridge Town, Hadleigh, Whitton having left in the last ten years or so, SILstandards must have dropped.

"I would be very depressed if we had to go back to the SIL. There are so many benefits where we are now, including entry to the FA Carlsberg Vase, and we relish trips to places like King's Lynn and Wisbech.

"We played at Wisbech on Wednesday and took 20 spectators with us on the coach. It was a 130-mile round trip but this posed no problems.

"Playing at stadiums like Wisbech, Lynn and Cambridge City, with stands all round the ground, inspires our young players.

"Having reserve sides in the division is certainly a plus; definitely not a minus."

Needham are managed this season by Colin Macrow and Colin Sinclair and they go into tomorrow's game in second place – and looking to extend their current winning run to nine games.

"This is our fifth season at this level, and we have never finished out of the top five," continued Bloomfield. "In previous years we have made a great start and then tailed off.

"With a reduced budget we are going about things a different way this time. I prefer it this way."

Also in the First Division, Whitton United travel to Halstead. In the Premier Division, Felixstowe and Walton United need three points badly when they entertain Clacton Town - as they are slipping towards relegation. Stowmarket Town can do them a favour by winning at Newmarket Town.

Woodbridge Town play at bottom-of-the-table Swaff- ham tonight and can also help Felixstowe's cause. Ipswich Wanderers have a long trip to Fakenham


In the Suffolk Senior Cup, Haverhill meet Leiston at Hadleigh and Kirkley play AFC Sudbury Reserves at Woodbridge to see who will play in the Portman Road final in April.

Tiptree United play holders Taunton in an FA Carlsberg Vase fifth round replay after the teams drew 1-1 at Chapel Road last Saturday.

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