Departing first-team and colts manager Paul Williams looks back at an improved 12 months for Sudbury Rugby Club.
Last year’s struggle against relegation for Sudbury was replaced by a very successful season, despite there only being a handful of additions.
A fourth-placed finish in London League Three North East replaced third-from-bottom with the only new names being Sam Conning (prop), Dan Cracknell (hooker) and Ethan Wright (centre).
There was also a welcome return of stalwart Alex Pears (prop) after suffering a broken leg.
But the youngsters of a year ago are now starting to mature and develop into a more potent outfit.
The season started well with seven wins on the bounce against Wymondham (34-12), Canvey (34-5), Old Brentwoods (41-13), Beccles (17-13), Cantabs (15-12) and Cantabs 35-10 in the Vase.
However, the squad were to sustain long-term injuries to second row Andy Currie and full-back Nick Robinson, as well as the likes of Frazer Beckett, George Murray and Wright going off to university, all in the backline.
The team played some enterprising rugby through the expansive coaching of Graham Richards.
This meant Sudbury were at the top of the table early on and there was talk of promotion.
But Graham’s belief was very different, to consolidate a position in the top half of the league and think about promotion the following season.
In hindsight, just as well, as it may be as many as three or four teams could be relegated.
As fully expected, and with dwindling numbers available for various reasons, November and December saw defeats (Wanstead, Old Cooperians, Campion and Wisbech) and two wins (Upminster and Canvey) resulting in a slip to third spot.
However, December did see Sudbury’s demolition of Hadleigh in the quarter-finals of the Suffolk Cup 64-15.
Bad weather in the year usually sees Sudbury’s worst period of the season, with fast expansive rugby replaced by toe-to-toe mud wrestling.
But the youth within the team battled on, picking up valuable points away from grounds that have previously given them nothing, namely Old Brentwoods and Upminster.
Late January saw Sudbury squeak past Woodbridge in the Suffolk Cup semi-final 21-19 with a second-half come-back, but with a seriously depleted side.
Despite Sudbury’s ability to maintain possession for any sustained periods during a game, they have won 14 out of 22 games.
They put on an excellent first-half display against the final runaway league champions Campion, but having led at half-time, finally lost 39-22.
However, the last home game saw them trounce Wisbech 55-19 and saw them repeat their demolition of Wymondham away 46-12 to finally finish in fourth spot with 57 points (as against last season’s 39 points).
They were to end up the second highest points scorers at 593 points, just 20 behind the league champions.
Sudbury’s season in the cups has seen them unbeaten, having won all four matches, culminating in their victory against Ipswich YM in the Suffolk Cup final 38-27 and thus securing their first silverware in 15 years.
So had you been lucky enough to watch their last three games, you would have seen them rack up no fewer than 139pts — not bad considering you do not have to pay a bean to watch them.
With 75 per cent of the squad aged 21 or under, supporters have been lucky enough to witness an exciting developing squad.
It is hoped that more youth will be moving through from this year’s successful Colts side next season.
So from September 2014, make sure you book your ringside seats.