Stoke-by-Nayland FC left with just a Vets team to keep it going after more than 90 years in the Colchester & East Essex League
After almost a century of history club officials at Stoke-by-Nayland FC have been forced to fold their first team with immediate effect.
A dearth of local players proved to be the beginning of the end of the side who are thought to have been competing for 95 continuous seasons in the Colchester & East Essex League.
Although it was a sad decision to have to pull the plug, club chairman of 25 years, Richard Addis, said it was something he had long seen coming.
“When I started playing for them in the mid 1980s we all lived in the village,” he said.
“We did not have one person in the current team that played this season who lives anywhere near Stoke-by-Nayland. So you have this non association with the club who have people in because someone is friends of someone and when they go off you get two or three going.
“The club has been dying off over the course of the last few years and unfortunately it is symptomatic of local adult football on a Saturday.
“When I started playing in the Colchester & East Essex League it had seven divisions but now it is down to one and I think they may struggle to get to their 100th year (2022).”
But the club itself will still remain in existence due to the increasing interest in over-35s football on a Saturday.
“The good thing is we still have a vets team which is booming,” said Addis.
“We have got 35-40 who have played on a Saturday and would rather like to continue alongside other people of a similar age. It is quite a good standard.”
Stoke-by-Nayland are currently seventh out of 11 teams in the North Essex Veterans League Division 1.
Like the now disbanded first team, who had held a mid-table position until their results were expunged ahead of the weekend, they actually play their games in the neighbouring village of Nayland.
“There used to be a Royal British Legion hut that we use as changing rooms at the Recreation Ground but that was deemed not safe by the recreation committee so we moved to Nayland Village Hall’s field five years ago,” explained Addis.
“I was very, very keen to ensure we stayed playing in the local area.”
Despite the decision to fold their flagship team halfway through this season, the 2018/19 campaign proved to be one of the most memorable in the club’s history.
Managed by Keaz Kadar the team who traditionally wore yellow and black kits were fighting for the Colchester & East Essex Premier Division One (second tier) title, eventually finishing runners-up.
They also made it through to May’s Lexden Memorial Cup final, drawing 1-1 with Oyster Reserves at Stanway Rovers FC to send the showpiece into extra-time. But they were to end as runners-up once again, being unable to add to Adam Brough’s goal and conceding twice more to lose 3-1.
Stoke-by-Nayland’s withdrawal from the league comes after Cavendish pulled their reserves side out over the summer.
More by this authorRussell Claydon