Martin ready to hand over reins
VASE SOCCER: Michael Cheetham is the man being lined up to replace Keith Martin as manager of FA Carlsberg Vase semi-finalists AFC Sudbury. The former Ipswich Town and Cambridge United midfield player has a key role to play tomorrow when Sudbury play fellow Jewson League Premier Division Tiptree United in the first leg of the Vase semi-final.
By Elvin King
MICHAEL Cheetham is the man being lined up to replace Keith Martin as manager of FA Carlsberg Vase semi-finalists AFC Sudbury.
The former Ipswich Town and Cambridge United midfield player has a key role to play tomorrow when Sudbury play fellow Jewson League Premier Division Tiptree United in the first leg of the Vase semi-final.
The second leg is at Tiptree next Saturday. As well as playing, Cheetham is assistant to Martin, who said today: "I would back Michael to be a future manager of AFC Sudbury.
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"I am 60 and getting to the stage when I want to do other things in my life. There is so much outside football that I want to do.
"I am not saying that I will be stepping down next season but I will certainly be delegating more. Michael has the makings of a fine manager."
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Martin deserves much of the praise for getting his table-topping side just one win away from the Vase final. He has worked hard for so many years, firstly with Sudbury Wanderers and then with AFC Sudbury when Wanderers merged with Sudbury Town four years ago.
When Sudbury Town reached the Vase final in 1989 – and drew 1-1 at Wembley Stadium against Tamworth before losing the replay 3-0 at Peterborough – wealthy businessman Martin was watching from the stand.
"I was manager of Cornard United at the time, and was enjoying my own success," recalls Martin. "We won a hat-trick of trophies - the Border League and Cup and the Suffolk Senior Cup – that season, a treble that only Brantham have equalled."
Martin gave his Sudbury players a rare week off after losing at home to Lowestoft in the league last Saturday. "We kicked a ball about last night and did some light work but otherwise the lads have had time off.
"It has been difficult for the players to concentrate on the league and our defeat by Lowestoft keeps the championship in the melting pot. The title is important to me.
"Wroxham are realistically the only side who can catch us and if they win their games in hand they will be level with us. And we have still to go to their ground.
"Tomorrow we are again on a hiding to nothing and Tiptree have nothing to lose, but I am sure the lads will raise their game.
"We may have doubled Tiptree in the league and they may be at the wrong end of the table but they are a big danger having knocked out some very good sides.
"I know what my game plan will be and we will benefit from a big pitch and good playing surface in the first leg."
Another ex-Ipswich player, Lee Norfolk, is hoping to be fit after injury while central defender Chris Howlett is also expected to be available. Former Felixstowe striker Sam Banya is leading scorer for Sudbury.
In the other semi-final Durham play Whitley Bay.