Four teams for Stowmarket
29 September 2013
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I went to watch Stowmarket v Ipswich on Saturday and arrived early for the pre-match buffet and a chance to catch up with friends and officials from both clubs. It was a sunny but breezy day and there were many people already enjoying a drink on the patio and it made me think about how far Stowmarket has come in the past ten years or so both on and off the field.
I first visited the club with Colchester in the late nineties when they played each other in Eastern Counties One. In those days the first team often included a number of Fijian soldiers based at RAF Wattisham and although it brought them success it was never going to be sustainable. Since then however the club has developed its youth and mini sections and the team that turned out against Ipswich was almost wholly home-grown.
The really remarkable thing about the day was that Stowmarket put out four teams for the first time in many, many years, a testament to the planning and dedication of its committee, coaches and members. In particular, praise must go to John Phoenix who was chairman of the club during this time and who stepped down at the end of last season.
The other big change at the club is the quality of the facilities. The changing rooms are amongst the best in the region and the clubhouse has been extended to provide a very convivial social area which had a friendly buzz about it both before and after the game. The playing facilities have been expanded to four pitches which are still very well maintained by John and a couple of years ago one of the pitches had match floodlights installed.
There must have been over 200 people watching the game which was a tight affair with Stowmarket trailing 3-5 at 55 minutes before the physicality of the Ipswich forward proved too much for them. Four tries including three in the last 15 minutes game Ipswich a deserved 33-3 win.
However the score was of secondary importance; fielding four sides for a rugby club that has the more established clubs of Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich and Sudbury encroaching on its area is a brilliant achievement and one that many would envy.
Pictures from the game