Significant campaign sees St Neots Town say goodbye to original Rowley Park home
- Credit: Archant
The 2007-8 season proved one of the most significant in the recent history of St Neots Town, being their last campaign at the original Rowley Park.
But the previous season had been somewhat disappointing, as they finished 17th in a 22-team UCL Premier Division following the departure of hotshot Steve Kuhne
After the relative success of the previous season, Saints saw Kuhne leave for Potton in mid-September and return later to net the winning goal for his new club in a 2-1 win.
Manager Steve Young also departed in January to leave Scott Houghton as boss, assisted by the experienced John Taylor, but the abiding memory was of inclement weather as 10 senior matches were postponed and a further two abandoned.
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St Neots was not the worst hit club but the season did not end until mid-May, with the first flooding postponement occurring as early as September at Wootton Blue Cross.
A total of 23 league defeats in a season was a record following the club’s return Rowley Park, as Saints managed 12 wins and five draws, scoring 47 goals and conceding 86.
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Ryan Francis claimed the only league hat-trick, at home against Buckingham Town, as no player reached double figures for the season.
Sean Murray netted a treble in a 4-2 Hunts Senior Cup win over lower-graded Brampton, as Saints won four of 11 ties, drawing one and losing six by an aggregate of 24-16.
Wes Byrne topped the charts with nine goals, as Mark Franklin netted eight, Francis and Craig Reynolds seven apiece, Murray six and John Coley five
The reserves beat Fletton Reserves 3-1 in the Scott Gatty Cup Final at Somersham with goals from Joe Walsh, Shane Fox and Sean Cleaver, but the match suffered a 25-minute delay in the second half due to unrest in the stands!
The 14th and final season at the original Rowley Park saw Saints finish eighth out of 21 teams in the UCL Premier, with 16 wins, 12 draws and 12 defeats.
They scored 67 goals and conceded 48, romping to a 7-0 success at Kempston Rovers in one of three league doubles.
But their final home league match ended in a 3-2 loss to Sleaford Town, before the last four matches yielded three losses and a last-day draw at Northampton Spencer for a club record 12th draw of the campaign.
Saints won three of eight cup ties, losing five, but finished with a 15-14 goal ratio thanks largely to a 6-0 Hunts Senior Cup win over Brampton.
They lost in the opening rounds of the FA Cup, FA Vase and League KO Cup, but the reserves were runners-up in their League KO Cup after losing 4-1 to Blackstones, with Ken Ashby on target, while retaining the Scott Gatty Cup with a 3-2 win over Huntingdon Reserves.
Barrington Belgrave top scored with 16 goals, ahead of Ryan Francis (8), Steve Kuhne (7), Kevin Byrne (7), Mark Barry (5), Ivan Finch (4) and Chris Garwood (4).
Thanks mainly to Stuart Walters and Bob Bridges, swift plans were put in place for the alternative state of the art accomodation the club occupies today.
It was another season of managerial change with Scott Houghton overseeing the opening 10 matches before giving way to Iain Parr and Ivan Finch, who stayed for six months before Marvin Johnson became the club’s first black manager.
Having moved into their spanking new premises at the new Rowley Park, marked by a grand opening ceremony with local MP Jonathan Djanogly, Saints enjoyed their most notable season since the 1966 FA Cup run.
They beat Newport Pagnell 3-0 in their first home league match, as Pete Okechukwu scored twice and Luigi Rocco also netted.
And in March, under the glare of regional TV cameras, they appointed former Northern Ireland international Steve Lomas (45 caps) as player/manager, but he lost four of his first five matches in charge.
It proved a disappointing league season as Saints, after winning only four of 20 away matches, slumped to 17th out of 21 UCL Premier Division teams with 12 wins, seven draws and 21 defeats, 66 goals scored and 75 conceded.
But it was a season rich in cup triumphs, as Saints finished with three trophies – the Hinchingbrooke Cup for the first team and a county double of Scott Gatty and Benevolent Cups for the reserves.
Of 16 ties played by the first team, 11 were won and five lost, with 47 goals scored and 22 conceded.
The 3-2 Hinchingbrooke Cup final win over St Ives Town made up for a 2-0 Hunts Premier Cup final loss to Langford – in a repeat of the 1987 final before leaving Shortsands!
The reserves finished sixth in a competitive top-flight UCL Reserve Division as well as picking up those two County FA trophies.
Okechukwu ended as top scorer with 16 goals, ahead of Declan Rogers (12), Matt Kenneford (11), James Hall (10), Luke Knight (9), Chris Johnson (7) and Jamie Steele (6).