Club Information AFC History From The Start
AFC (Amalgamated Football Club) Sudbury was formed on Tuesday 1st June 1999 from the amalgamation of Sudbury Town (founded 1885) and Sudbury Wanderers (founded 1958) making it the newest senior club in East Anglia. The first ever game was played at The Priory Stadium (the previous home of Town) on 17th July 1999 against a full Colchester United side in the Harwich Charity Cup Centenary Shield Semi-Final, and saw a 2-4 defeat after extra time in front of 397 spectators.
The club now plays at The MEL Group Stadium, King’s Marsh, Brundon Lane, Sudbury, which Wanderers purchased in 1972 were previously water meadows, from which two pitches and a training area were created. The clubhouse was opened in 1985 and the dressing rooms in 1991. Floodlights were added in 1992 and the following year a 200-seat stand was built in addition to the two areas behind the goals being covered. In 2000 a new stand, ‘The Shed’, was opened and caters for 300 standing fans.
The two clubs left behind proud histories. Sudbury Town were one of the founder members of the Suffolk County Football Association in 1885. They reached the second round proper of the F.A. Cup in 1996-97 having defeated Brighton And Hove Albion in the first round after a replay and an exciting penalty shoot-out. Brentford then defeated them with the tie being played at Layer road Colchester in the Second Round. The F.A. Vase provided the club with some memorable achievements. Finalists in 1989, 26,478 watched that final at the old Wembley Stadium, which the Borough drew with Tamworth. The replay was sadly lost the next week at Peterborough United. In addition, Sudbury Town reached the semi-finals twice and also one quarter-final.
Sudbury Town played for seven seasons in the Southern League, three of these being in the Premier Division. They won the League Cup and were runners-up on another occasion. They also appeared in 22 finals of the Suffolk Premier Cup, winning it 13 times. Wanderers won the same competition in 1997-98 after a replay.
Wanderers progressed through the Halstead League, the Essex and Suffolk Border League and then the First and Premier Divisions of the Eastern Counties League. On the way they were three times finalists in the Suffolk Senior Cup at Portman Road, winning the trophy in 1991-92. In the F.A. Vase the club twice reached the last eight and once the last sixteen. The Jewson League Cup was won in 1999, defeating Felixstowe Port And Town 7-2 at Woodbridge.
In their first season 1999-2000, A.F.C. Sudbury managed by ex- Wanderers manager Keith Martin, finished third in the Jewson Premier League and the Reserve side won the Premier League title in the Essex and Suffolk Border League. In the summer of 2000 the club won the first St. Nicholas’ Hospice Charity Cup tournament at Bury Town’s Ram Meadow ground, defeating Mildenhall Town 5-0.
In season 2000-2001 the club powered their way to the Jewson League Premier title, reached the first round proper of the F.A. Cup (where they were defeated away at Darlington) and the Reserves won the Essex and Suffolk Border League Cup.
Season 2001-2002 saw the club retained the Jewson League and reached the semi-finals of the F.A. Vase before losing 2-0 on aggregate to Tiptree United. They also defeated Felixstowe and Walton 3-1 in the final of the Suffolk Premier Cup at Hadleigh.
In 2002-2003 the club again retained the Jewson League Premier title, and won the Suffolk Premier Cup with victory over Mildenhall Town. They also reached the final of the Carlsberg F.A. Vase played at Upton Park, being beaten 2-1 by Brigg Town. After this the club’s first manager Keith Martin stepped down and was replaced by the reserve team manager Gary Harvey.
Season 2003-2004 saw Harvey led his team to the club’s fourth Ridgeons League title and also won the Suffolk Premier Cup again defeating Bury Town 4-0 at Portman Road Ipswich. The club also reached the final of the F.A. Vase but lost 2-0 to Winchester City at the home of Birmingham City, St Andrews. The Reserves lost in the final of the Essex and Suffolk Border League Cup.
Improvements were made to the Brundon Lane ground with it becoming fully enclosed, new turnstiles and a fully automated sprinkler system installed. The pitch was also revitalised with a professional groundsman being employed.
In 2004-2005 the club were again successful, they won their fifth consecutive Ridgeons Premier League title (a record for the Eastern Counties League), and again reached the final of the F.A. Vase. This was the third year in succession another record at the time, unfortunately they again lost. Didcot Town won 3-2 at White Hart Lane Tottenham in front of 8862 spectators. The semi-final of both the Suffolk Premier Cup and the Ridgeons League Cup were also reached.
The new season 2005-2006 saw the club continued to play in the Ridgeons Premier League and finished third in the table after leading for the majority of it. The Ridgeons League Cup was won for the first time in the club’s history and the fifth round of the F.A. Vase was also reached.
The Reserve side played in the newly formed Ridgeons Reserve League Southern Division and won that. In the play off between the North and South winners, they were runners up. The highlight of their season was winning the Suffolk Junior Cup at Portman Road Ipswich.
For the 2006-2007 season the club decided to accept promotion up the non-league pyramid to Step 4, and a position in the new Ryman League Division One North. The club also changed managers with Mark Morsley taking over from Gary Harvey, to become the club’s third manager since their creation. Morsley joined the club after guiding Needham Market in the previous three seasons and he brought a good backroom staff to King’s Marsh with him. The season panned out to be a good one, reaching the play-off finals in the league and did well in other competitions. Pre-season was fairly ordinary but the start of the Ryman League saw the first four games won.
In the F.A. Cup the club made it to the Fourth Qualifying Round going out to a last minute goal to Leatherhead. Success in that and the F.A. Trophy where the First Round was reached going out away at Newport County meant the league games fell behind. Further progression in the Ryman League Cup saw the club reached the Quarter Finals before being defeated at Staines Town also slowed league progress.
From the end of December 2006 AFC played only League games (28) something that had not been done in previous seasons due to the F.A. Vase. The league position improved from thirteenth to eventually on the last day of the league season finishing in fifth to clinch the last play-off place.
A fine 4-2 away win in the play off semi-final against Enfield Town, saw AFC have to travel to Harlow Town. Again the team showed its resilience going two goals down before levelling in the final two minutes. Extra time could not separate the two sides but AFC failed in the penalty shoot out, to miss out on promotion at the first time of asking.
The 2007-2008 season will go down as the nearly season. The club nearly won promotion and they nearly won the Ryman League Cup, but nearly was not good enough as they failed in both. The club were still under the guidance of manager Mark Morsley aided by his now assistant Nicky Smith and coach Paul Skingley as the season started, and said an early goodbye in the F.A. Cup with neighbours Bury Town winning at King’s Marsh. In the F.A Trophy AFC also made an early exit losing in the First Qualifying Round at Southern Premier side King’s Lynn in a replay. This combined with a defeat at Mildenhall Town in the Suffolk Premier Cup left only the League and League Cup to battle for.
Results were mixed at the start of the season but AFC maintained a place in the top four for the majority of the season and third and fourth place was for only one week each as it was either top of second place they occupied.
In the League Cup Premier Division sides Billericay Town and Chelmsford City were beaten and then Redbridge went the same way. After this the team went on a thirteen match unbeaten league run winning ten and drawing three to keep them in contention for the league title with eventual winners Dartford.
Edgware Town were the next League Cup opponents and they were beaten to put the club away in the semi-final at Heybridge Swifts where they comprehensive defeated them 6-0. In this game leading scorer James Rowe took his seasons total to thirty. He was to only score four more in the next twelve games as an injury to him and the club’s other leading scorer Gareth Heath took its toll and they missed a number of important games, including the League Cup final. The game held at Dartford’s Princes Park ground was against another Premier Division side, Ramsgate. The game was scoreless after 120 minutes and the Kent side won 5-4 on penalties to take the trophy.
The league continued but AFC won only one of the next six games although did draw another as the title went to Dartford. Despite the loss of these games the club maintained second spot in the table and thus a home game in the play off semi-final. This was against Canvey Island, side who had visited King’s Marsh in those disastrous six games and won. On a wet night, AFC came from behind twice, but were knocked out of the promotion stakes with a winning goal in the second half of extra time to finish their season.
The club’s Reserve side under the management of Ian Manby finished runners up in the Ridgeons Reserve League South.
In the early part of May 2008, Mark Morsley tendered his resignation to the club’s board of directors and it was accepted after a disagreement over the 2008/09 budget.
The club appointed Nicky Smith as their new manager for 2008-2009 midway through May 2008 and he asked Chris Tracey to join him as his assistant. A few days later the club received news that they had been moved from the Ryman League and placed in the Southern League Midland Division. This was not looked on favourably by anyone connected with the club due to the vast increase in the travelling and the recruitment of players prepared to do it. When pre-season training started in the early weeks of June 2008 there remained only a few players from the previous season and not one signed on a contract. There was however a good turnout of players from various places and nine pre-season games were played before the league started. This was with the longest trip of the season to Malvern Town, it produced a victory, but total journey distance however was 350 miles!
The FA Cup saw the club go out after a replay in a preliminary round replay on penalties at Lowestoft Town. In the FA Trophy however they did well, winning at Waltham Forest in the Preliminary Round, then defeating Brentwood Town away in the First Qualifying Round before beating Great Wakering Rovers away in a Second Qualifying Round replay to set up an another away tie. This time it was a trip to Somerset and Weston-Super-Mare and another victory was achieved to take AFC in the First Round Proper of the competition. Their reward was a home tie against one time Football League club Oxford United. On a wet afternoon AFC lost 2-0 to lose interest in the Trophy for another season.
In the League the management team used a number of players as they tried to get a side capable of competing in the different league and because of this results were inconsistent. However the club remained in the top half of the table for the majority of the first half of the season.
The League Cup saw a defeat by local side Bury Town, who had also switched leagues, while in the Suffolk Premier Cup Mildenhall Town were beaten in the Quarter Final. Later in the season Lowestoft were again winners against AFC in the Semi-Final.
The second half of the season saw only the league to concentrate on, but again there were constant team changes due to players coming and going, some only playing one game. The outside chance the club had of making the play-offs went but not before a couple of excellent results. Runaway league leaders and eventual champions Leamington were beaten away from home, AFC inflicting their first defeat in twenty five matches, and scoring five times. The inability to find a settled side and not beating several bottom of the table sides at home meant AFC finished the season in twelfth position.
The Reserves continued in the Ridgeons Reserve League under Ian Manby, again many players were tried and this made finding a settled side difficult. A mid-table finish ensued. They did win the Chell Trophy defeating Tiptree United Reserves at Hadleigh United’s Millfeld ground.
The 2009-2010 season saw Nicky Smith and Chris Tracey again in charge, and despite asking the FA to be allowed a return to the Ryman League, the club continued in the Southern League Midlands Division.
It turned out to be not a particularly successful one as AFC lost in the First Qualifying Round of the FA Cup and the First Qualifying Round of the FA trophy albeit after a replay. In the Southern League Cup it was a Second Round exit and it was also the same round in the Suffolk Premier Cup.
The league form was not great with too many games against sides below them being lost especially at home, this being in contrast to their away form which was amongst the best despite the long distances travelled. There were a large number of players used throughout the campaign, with fifty-six players named in the fifty-one squads and fifty of them taking the field. At the conclusion of the season AFC finished in fourteenth position.
The club’s Reserve team played in the Ridgeons Reserve League and their form mirrored very much that of the first team with some good results, but not enough of them.
During the season the club’s King’s Marsh Stadium was a building site as their new clubhouse and community building was being constructed. Both were completed on time and on budget for the club to hold their first event in it, their Presentation Evening on May 15th 2010.
Jamie Redknapp officially opened the new clubhouse on 20th June 2010 and a Vice President Club was announced. The ground was rebranded as the MEL Group Stadium and main seated stand was named The Brian Tatum Stand.
Season 2010-2011 saw the club moved back to the Ryman League and Division One North once again with Nicky Smith and Chris Tracey in charge of first team affairs.
It was a season that so nearly was a good one. The play-offs were narrowly missed by only three points with seventh place the club’s final league position, the inability to beat lower table teams at home being the club’s Achilles heel. Only one defeat in the last thirteen games was not enough due to the number of drawn fixtures, indeed during the season a total of twelve games were drawn.
James Baker with 24 league goals and Dave Wareham with 14 were the leading scorers.
In the Cup competitions AFC went out of the FA Cup in the Preliminary Round after a replay at Stamford but faired much better in the FA Trophy, where the First Round Proper was reached. Away wins against Merstham, Canvey Island, and a home win against Hendon saw the club make the long trek to Cornwall where Truro City were defeated. The run came to an end losing at home to Hampton and Richmond Borough. In the Ryman League Cup defeat came at the first hurdle away to Lowestoft Town.
The Reserve side again under the leadership of Ian Manby played in the Ridgeons Reserve League finishing a creditable third having to play the majority of their games in the last two months of the season due to the wet weather affecting the King’s Marsh pitch. They reached the final of the Suffolk Senior Reserve League losing to Haverhill Rovers Reserves at Ram Meadow Bury.
An A team was also started with Phil Root as their manager, playing in the Division Two of Colchester and East Essex League. It was a tough season for the team with players whose average age was just over sixteen.
The Ladies team did well and ended up in a position that that allowed promotion. They also were finalists in the League Cup.
The club’s Grassroots Section continued to thrive with teams from the age of eight upwards.
The 2011/12 season started with Nicky Smith and his assistant Chris Tracey still at the helm, having signed an extension of their contracts to keep them at the club until December 2012. The club continued in the Ryman North and the Reserves in the Ridgeons Reserve League.
The A Team playing in the Colchester and East Essex League while the Ladies having won promotion play in the F.A. Eastern Region Premier League.
On 15th September 2011 Nicky Smith resigned and Chris Tracey was handed the manager’s position on a temporary basis, but on 12th October he became the permanent manager until the end of the 2011/12 season, this being extended until the end of the 2012/13 season in January 2012. Tracey was joined by a new coach Barry Lakin in March 2012. The team went onto just fail to make the play-offs ending the season in eighth place.
The Reserves made it to the Final of The Chell Trophy but lost to Gorleston Reserves, and finished just below halfway in the Ridgeons Reserve League South, the A Team ended their season just below halfway.
The start of season 2012/13 saw Chris Tracey in charge with Barry Lakin at his side and with a number of new signings there was hope that promotion would be achieved. Lakin departed in September 2012 and Michael Shinn was appointed as Tracey’s assistant whilst continuing to play. Late in October 2012 Ian Brown was brought in as first team coach.
The Reserves continued in the newly named Thurlow Nunn League under Ian Manby and Dave Walton and the A Team under the guidance of Phil Root, while the Ladies side was led by Clive Golding.
On 13th March 2013 Chris Tracey resigned as manager and Michael Shinn and Ian Brown were put in charge of team affairs until further notice.
The season ended with the first team in seventeenth place in the table while the reserve side ended in sixth position, but did win the Suffolk Senior Reserve Cup. The A Team completed their season in mid-table, while the AFC Ladies side reached the First Round of the Womens FA Cup and finished runners up in the league.
On 21st May 2013 the club appointed David Batch as their sixth permanent manager and he was joined by Steve Eastaugh as his assistant ready for the 2013/14 season.
AFC Sudbury Club Colours:- Home;Yellow shirts with blue trim, blue shorts, blue socks with yellow trim.
Away; all red with blue and yellow trim