Month-by-month: St Neots Town’s historic 2011 revisited
“THERE cannot have been a more memorable 12-month period in the 132 years history of St Neots Town – and that includes the FA Cup heroics of 1966,” says St Neots Town’s president John Walker.
So Walker, who is the Saints’ foremost historian, casts his eye back over 2011 and pick out his highlights from the club’s fantastic year.
We kicked off 2011 sitting comfortably at the top of the United Counties League Premier Division with a five-point lead over Long Buckby and with two matches in hand. We had won 16 and drawn three of our 19 league games and scored 80 goals (we were to double that!), conceding just eight.
Oh yes, and King’s Lynn were a distant fourth, seven points adrift with one match in hand.
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After a 3-1 routine victory at Northampton Spencer, we thrashed neighbours Eynesbury Rovers 11-2 in the Hunts Senior Cup, including four goals from Stefan Moore and three from Shane Tolley. Our FA Vase match at Gresley was frozen off but a week later we beat them 3-1 having lost two league Saturdays and the league leadership (temporarily) to Newport Pagnell.
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February was the worst month of the year. We were beaten twice by King’s Lynn – at home in the league (our only league defeat of the 2010-11 season) and away in the FA Vase – but we progressed to the final of the Hunts Senior Cup at the expense of Eaton Socon. However, we ended the month back on the top with King’s Lynn just a point behind with 14 matches each left.
Nine league matches, 32 goals scored, nine conceded and 25 points won! The only blot was the 1-1 draw away against an improving Peterborough Northern Star. We had now opened up a seven-point gap on King’s Lynn, but they had two matches in hand.
April was the ‘Champagne’ month. On April 16 we won the ‘league clincher’ away at King’s Lynn and progressed to the final of the Hinchingbrooke Cup by beating Biggleswade Town.
The highlight came at The Hunts Post Community Stadium on Easter Monday when a 4-1 victory over our neighbours St Ives Town clinched the League title for the first time in more than 40 years.
Two cup finals with Shane Tolley’s double giving us a 2-0 victory over St Ives to bring the Hunts Senior Cup home for the 35th time. A double just eluded us when AFC Kempston Rovers beat us 1-0 in the Hinchingbrooke Cup. However, that disappointment was more than eclipsed when, at the end of the month, the Football Association confirmed our elevation to the Evo-Stik Southern League Central Division for the 2011-12 season. It was the first time we had reached step four and we became the first ever Huntingdonshire club to achieve that.
The so called ‘close season’ – but manager Dennis Greene and chairman Mike Kearns were busy recruiting.
Southern League fixtures were released and centre back Chris Hope signed. The pre-season friendlies got under way; there were eight played this month, all at home.
Punching above our weight we saw four wins and a draw with Tolley carrying on where he left off with a goal in each of the first four friendlies. We also captured our first silverware of the new season – the Gary Whitbread Memorial Trophy by beating Eynesbury 3-1.
Step four at last and five wins and one defeat in August gave us a great start. At the end of the month we sat second in the table behind Bedworth United, the only side to beat us.
September began badly with an unexpected FA Cup defeat at Thurnby Nirvana, but the silver lining was the discovery of tricky winger Pearson Mwanyongo, who we signed soon after.
Two defeats at Northwood and by AFC Hayes at home showed that this was not going to be an easy division to compete in. There was one Saturday lost because of that FA Cup defeat.
Defeat to Bedford Town in the Red Insure Cup – and another blank Saturday, but improvement followed with revenge over Northwood, an excellent away win at Burnham and progress in the FA Trophy.
November brought defeat at Billericay, but progress in the Hunts Senior and Hinchingbrooke Cups.
On the league front, two disappointing performances away from home saw defeats at Slough and Bedfont, but there were home league victories over Leighton and Chertsey.
Five league matches unbeaten in December including maximum points in two away games over Christmas. The only points dropped were in a 1-1 draw with Ashford Town.