Treble-winning Marlborough manager Mark Jones goes back to drawing board
Marlborough manager Mark Jones is grappling with the mother of all rebuilding jobs after a player exodus left his treble-winning squad threadbare.
And he admitted he did consider bowing out himself in the wake of a memorable campaign which saw the north city pub side become only the fifth club to win the league title, the league cup and Sunday Senior Cup in the same season in over a half century of Norwich Sunday League history.
'We lost three-quarters of the squad from last season. Some players had decided it was a good time to finish on a high note while others decided to seek fresh challenges elsewhere.
'It left us with quite a few vacant positions,' said Jones.
He added: 'I did consider stepping down myself. But I did enjoy last season and I thought it would be a shame to leave it like that. We have always been able to compete at that level.'
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Mark and assistant Nick Bartram knuckled down to the challenge of bringing in some new talent to add to the remnants of the old guard.
Although there is some way to go before the squad is back up to full strength, early indications, with Marlborough sitting in a familiar position on top of the Evening News Copy IT Norwich Sunday League Premier Division, suggest they are on the right track.
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'This season was always going to be about team rebuilding. It's an opportunity to bring in some younger players but you always want to remain competitive, that's the flip side. It's a difficult balance really.'
The list of departures from the 19-strong squad was headed by last season's veteran captain Darren Perry, who has retired after a glorious swansong.
Others who departed for various reasons include prolific striker Colin Wines, centre half Luke Durrant, right back Ricky George, left back Shaun Wines, centre half Shaun Cameron, strikers Danny Brown and Jamie Hunton, midfielders Chris Owen and Payton Swatman and goalkeeper Shaun Palmer.
A core of players from last season of Mark McGhee, Leon Brock, Tom Balls and Danny McKail have been joined by a crop of new recruits. Arrivals for the side, now based at the Fountain Ground, include experienced midfielder Lee Brown, young talents Jordan King and Alex Saunders, multi-skilled ex-Cambridge player Duane Easthall; Jody Cork and Jody Rial, both from the Grove, and goalkeeper Laurie Bedson.
Although last season is, not surprisingly, proving a hard act to follow, Marlborough, whose only league defeat has been against AFC Wanderers, remain hopeful of leaving their mark in the battle to retain the league title and the Pink Un League Cup.
They made an early exit from the Norfolk Sunday Senior Cup at North Walsham Town when they squandered a 3-1 lead.
'We were 3-1 up, hit the post which would have put us 4-1 up, then Walsham pulled it back to 3-2 and were awarded three penalties to make it 5-3,' recalled Jones.
'We play them in the league cup away on December 9.
'The boys should not need too much motivating for that one.'