Acle’s cup runneth over after decades of near-miss heartache
Acle United's years of near-miss heartache were forgotten as they completed a mission which began over 40 years ago by winning the Sterry Cup.
Joint-manager Martyn Sinclair said the trophy for winning the Anglian Combination Premier Division title was a reward for all the players and people who had worked so hard for the club for so many years.
'It was nice to see some of the older people like Freddie Colk, John Goward and Robin Tungate welling up with emotion after our win at North Walsham – it showed how much it meant,' said Sinclair, who masterminded the success in tandem with Tony Ward.
After his third season at the managerial helm, Sinclair described winning the title, after being pipped at the post on the final day by Cromer last season, as 'a big relief'.
He was also delighted that the club had emerged from the shadow of local archrivals Blofield – winners of the Sterry Cup a record-breaking six times. 'I had five years as a player with the club in the mid-90s, I have always loved the club to bits, I really do buy into the whole ethos,' continued Sinclair. 'For the amount of work that we have put in behind the scenes there is a real satisfaction that it has been worth it.'
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The team, skippered by Luke Goreham, got their hands on the trophy after their final game of the season – Friday's 2-1 win over Mattishall, which saw them win the title with seven points in hand over Spixworth. Acle's success was fuelled by a tide of goals, with mid-season signing Ricci Butler (ex-Gorleston, Diss and Haven Bridge United) leading the way with 35 goals in 20 games. 'He didn't win the title for us on his own, but we couldn't have done it without his goals,' said Sinclair. Winger Adam Hipperson weighed in with 22 goals, while the back four contributed 20 as the free-scoring side reached the 100 mark with a game to go, adding two more in the Mattishall finale. Acle's dream season was made even better by a 4-2 Mummery Cup final win over Spixworth, which righted the wrongs of a 2011 final defeat by them, and last season's semi-final loss to eventual winners St Johns. 'The league and cup double is not something that has been done by many clubs. We are very proud of what we have achieved,' added Sinclair. Despite their success, a step up to the Thurlow Nunn League is not on the agenda 'for the foreseeable future' because of the costs involved in meeting ECL facilities requirements including floodlights and fencing. 'It would be nice to think that one day Acle might be in a position to step up though,' he added.
Acle are set to celebrate their success and 100 years of affiliation to the FA at an awards evening at the Bridewell Lane Social Club on Saturday, May 25.
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