Disruption and disappointment

BIG LOSS: Wayne Proctor was Stowmarket's leading scorer despite leaving for Mildenhall Town during the season
BIG LOSS: Wayne Proctor was Stowmarket's leading scorer despite leaving for Mildenhall Town during the season

STOWMARKET TOWN manager Shane Austin is just glad the season is over.

After a campaign marked by great upheaval, with many players leaving, new boss Austin ranks finishing the season as the club’s best achievement.

Austin joined Stow with 17 games of the season left, replacing the sacked Steve Jay, and guided the club to 15th in the Ridgeons First Division, one place above bottom.

“I wasn’t there long and we had a lot of players jump ship,” said Austin. “So I was just glad the season ended.”

They had a disappointing season in the cups as well, losing in the extra preliminary round of the FA Cup, the second qualifying round of the FA Vase and the first round of the Ridgeons League Cup.

The club fared a little better in the First Division Knockout Cup and the Suffolk Senior Cup, making the quarter-finals of both competitions.

Austin ranks the club’s quarter-final defeat to Grundisburgh in the Senior Cup as one of the biggest disappointments of a poor year.

“We were massive underdogs for that game, given the two teams’ league positions, but we played so well in the first half that I thought we might do it,” said Austin.

Having so many players leave when Austin joined the club also disappointed the new manager.

“It was a shame we had so many players leave, but that’s football,” he said.

One of the players to leave was Wayne Proctor, who still finished the season as the club’s top scorer with 10 goals from just 14 starts.

The players’ player-of-the-season award went to club captain James Graham, the central midfielder staying loyal to the club despite the disruption around him.

The supporters’ player-of-the- season award, meanwhile, went to popular utility player Yani Duka.

Austin did not feel as though he had been there long enough to award a manager’s player-of-the-season award.

The boss already has his eyes on next season, his first full term in charge.

“Next season is all about consolidating what we’ve still got and trying to rebuild what we’ve lost,” said Austin.

“We’re going to try and build with young, hungry players that want to play for the club.”

He knows it is not always easy to attract older players, who may be tempted by the larger resources of bigger clubs, so his focus is on recruiting youth.

Austin hopes to build his own side and to consolidate his position at the club, but the new man in the hot seat is realistic enough to know that his side are unlikely to be competing for honours in the near future.