Mark’s Marlborough relighting their fire
Marlborough have put memories of a rare indifferent season behind them by storming back into the Evening News Copy IT Norwich Sunday League top flight title picture.
The league’s most successful team of the modern era underlined their status as Golden Greats by winning the top flight title as well as the elusive Norfolk Sunday Senior Cup during the league’s 50th anniversary season in 2008-9.
But the following season the team struggled to recapture the heights and with double-winning manager Matt Foulger leaving for personal reasons, the eight-times league champions and six time league cup winners suffered a rare trophyless campaign among the divisions also-rans sparking rumours of impending demise.
However this term, with new manager Mark Jones at the helm, a revival is gathering pace.
While former player Jones is making no predictions he is pleased at the start which sees Marlborough trailing leaders Wymondham Rangers on goal difference after a 3-2 win over old foes Norwich Busmen on Sunday.
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Jones, who can trace his club lineage back to John Linford’s Edith Cavell team from which Marlborough evolved and is one of the leading appearance makers of all time, said club chairman Linford and long-serving Julian Bourne had invited him to take up the reins.
“John and Julian asked me to take it on.
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“Initially I had some reservations but they convinced me to give it a go and it’s gone reasonably well so far.”
With trusty club stalwart Nick Bartrum as his assistant they set about adding some new faces to the core of regulars.
“I suppose there was about eight of the original team from last season and we addded about six more. We are still looking to add to the squad and in our current position would be hopeful of attracting a few more. We are still in all the competitions. I would be hopeful of a top three or four finish in the league.”
A former Mulbarton and St Andrews defender, Jones has returned to Marlborough after a spell away which saw him miss out on the north city pub outfit’s finest hour – the Sunday Senior Cup Carrow Road final triumph against El Sol.
“I have been quite surprised by the standard of the league.
“You hear people say that it’s not as good as it used to be but there are some good teams in the division and I think it’s going to be very tight. There are several teams who could win the title.
“Acle Rangers and the Grove are very good teams and this Sunday we have got Quebec, who won the title last year, so that will be a baromoter for us.”
That game, to be followed by a trip to current leaders Wymondham Rangers, a Sunday Senior Cup encounter at home to Acle and a home game against Senior Cup holders AFC Wanderers, will kick off a hectic period of testing and potentially revealing matches which could define the season. “In terms of fixtures, this month will give us a pretty good idea of what we have got in terms of the squad,” said the 41-year-old, who will be looking to turn out for leading local veterans team the Trafford Arms when he has shaken off a nagging hip injury.