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Soaring Norman tipped for the top

PUBLISHED: 13:16 01 May 2008 | UPDATED: 12:16 07 May 2010

Norman Wanderers joint-manager Dave Baldwin has spoken of his pride after his young players clinched runners-up position in only their second season in the Evening News Norwich Sunday League top flight.

Norman Wanderers joint-manager Dave Baldwin has spoken of his pride after his young players clinched runners-up position in only their second season in the Evening News Norwich Sunday League top flight.

At the start of the season Baldwin told me that his progressive young outfit had learned important lessons in their inaugural top flight campaign and were ready to challenge for the major honours.

The claim proved to be much more than early season bravado as the happy Wanderers emerged as the only team to pose a serious threat to Marlborough's chances of landing the championship for the third successive year.

Although Wanderers fell four points short of Marlborough's total, Baldwin said the future was bright for his fast-maturing team of young players, skippered by Shane Abrahams.

“I am very proud of them. I would like to think they can go one step further and win the title next season. They will certainly improve as time goes on and with experience. They have got to make sure they stay focused.

“Hopefully they will be able to push teams like Marlborough and Delaneys for the top honours.

“They have still got a lot to learn but they are learning off teams like Marlborough and Delaneys,” said Baldwin, who manages the team with club founder and chairman Clive Pilgrim.

One significant yardstick is that in league meetings this season Wanderers lost once to Marlborough, drawing the other game, while the games against Delaneys produced a draw and a win.

“We lost three or four games that we should not have because we had enough chances to have done better.”

Matty Pilgrim, Danny Pennell, Clive Riches and Craig Topley have all weighed in with their fair share of goals for the Mile Cross outfit, who play home games at Sloughbottom Park.

“Although I am reluctant to single any one player out because it has been a great all-round team effort, central defender Daniel Barraclough has had an outstanding season. He has been a rock at the back.”

Wanderers' two other Evening News League teams have also enjoyed successful seasons with the Reserves side managed by Alan Ballinger and Alan Brighton finishing a creditable fourth in Division 2a, while the fledgling A team run by Stephen Buxton and Nigel Buxton won Division 4a in their league debut season.

As well as three adult teams, Norman have one of the most active youth set-ups around, with sides at U9, U10, U11, U12, U13, U14 and U16 level. There is also a girls team at the club which caters for around 200 players in total.

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