Somersham Town scrap first team to secure club’s future

SOMERSHAM Town will begin again in Division One B of the Cambridgeshire FA County League after scrapping the first team that finished just above the relegation places in the Premier Division last time out.

The dramatic move is a positive one, according to the club’s general manager Matt Dunster, who told The Hunts Post: “Our ambition is to win promotion back to the Premier Division in four years.”

Dunster explained that Somersham’s first team will now be last season’s reserves after the committee sat down and discussed the club’s future.

There is a new chairman, Andy Woodfield, who replaces the retired Dave Hunt – and the former reserves’ manager Chris Bailey has replaced Andi Rossi as manager of the new first team.

“We talked about what we want for the club, local football, and our hobby – and we decided to restructure,” said Dunster. “It’s not a negative decision.

“At the start of last season we were third in the table, playing well, and scoring goals for fun.

“But we can’t compete for players with the likes of St Neots, St Ives and Huntingdon. We began losing players to sit on the bench at teams like Godmanchester Rovers.

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“You either pay �30 or �40 a game to players or you don’t. We decided we didn’t want to go down that road. We decided we didn’t want to go bust.”

Money is an issue. The club has just received a �650 grant from home phone and mobile providers Talk Talk, but finances are tight at the West End Ground.

“We own the ground,” continued Dunster, “which may well sound great but owning your own ground rather than renting it from the council is expensive. It means all the costs are ours. If the floodlights break down we can’t just call the council. There are no magic fairies around when things go wrong.”

Despite everything, there is a real sense that this coming season could be one of the greats for a club which will be playing at its lowest level in recent history. A Peterborough & District League side for many years, Somersham were one of the founding members of Division One of the Eastern Counties League in 1988. They won the Hunts FA Senior Cup in 1998 and 2001 – but dropped out of the EPL and into the Cambs League three years later. They have been a Cambs League team ever since.

Dunster said: “Chris Bailey has had a couple of successful seasons as the manager of the reserves and they would have won promotion again last season had he not lost players to the first team.

“We have 15 youth teams but it’s going to be a couple of years before those players start making it through to the first team.”

In the meantime, Bailey is hoping to retain the services of a few of last season’s Premier Division squad, while relying on those who played under him in the reserves – in Division One B – to take that first step back up the league.