Melford face a massive challenge with step up

WELCOME REINFORCEMENTS: Ashley Drew (right), who has joined Long Melford is pictured during his days at Halstead Town
WELCOME REINFORCEMENTS: Ashley Drew (right), who has joined Long Melford is pictured during his days at Halstead Town

Long Melford manager Jules Mumford has bolstered his squad as they prepare to make their debut in the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.

“I just want us to compete in every game,” said Mumford, “and we will see what happens. It’s a massive challenge. There are a lot of big clubs with bigger budgets. But we have a good squad, and we don’t fear anybody.

“The pressure will be on us to stay up. But I don’t think it will be quite like the pressure we had last season from Christmas on when we couldn’t afford to lose a game.”

All of Melford’s First Division title-winning squad have re-signed for the club, and Mumford has brought in four new faces, plus re-signing a player who was only available to make a handful of midweek appearances at the start of last season.

Midfielder Reece Clarke joins from Debenham LC, having previously played for Walsham.

There is a family connection - his father Karl Clarke played for the Villagers, and grandfather Roy Buckle was a legend at both Melford and Sudbury Town.

Defender Ashley Drew, who was previously with Haverhill Borough and Halstead Town, midfielder Trevor Vinyard, who played for Bildeston Rangers last season and Josh Dalzile, formally of West Bergholt, have all also been recruited during the close season.

Striker Will Finch, previously with Braintree Town Reserves, is back in action after taking a break from the game, and midfielder Glen Harris has returned to the club this summer and will be available this season. Harris had a lengthy spell with Slough Town.

Sam Bayliss, Jake Jackson and Will Wingfield are all at university, so will only be available at certain times of the season.

Apart from preserving Premier Division status, Mumford would also welcome runs in the FA Vase and FA Cup.

“The prize money is good in the Cup, and would be great for a club like ours,” he said.

Melford host London Bari in the FA Cup extra-preliminary round on August 15, and Cornard United in the first qualifying round of the Vase on September 5,

Melford are also in the Suffolk Premier Cup this season. “A home tie against AFC Sudbury or Ipswich Town would do nicely,” said Mumford.

Melford start the league season at Felixstowe and Walton on Saturday, and are home to Whitton United on Wednesday.