Duo suffer play-off heartbreak

IN the first of a two-part series, NATHAN BEALES reflects on what had been making the headlines in the Bury Free Press throughout 2011.

January

n Bury Town won their first game of 2011 with a 2-0 away victory at Aveley. Debutant Sam Ives contributed with a deflected strike that opened the scoring.

n Mildenhall Fen Tigers revealed that their stadium could be deprived of £40,000 in potential revenue after the Speedway outfit were denied a National League license due to financial issues. However, the club confirmed they were in talks with possible investors.

n Bowls ace Mark Royal achieved a world number four spot after his semi-final appearance in the Bowls World Championship. The Stowmarket left-hander finished on a points total of 145, which was just four short of a runners up spot.

n Dwain Brown announced his resignation from Bury St. Edmunds Rugby Club and passed on his head coach and rugby development duties to Roger Coombs. Brown, born in South Africa, wanted to return to his homeland but admitted he left the club with a “heavy heart”.

February

n Stowmarket Town FC were warned that their stadium needed to be upgraded in order to meet the Ridgeons Premier Division regulations. The club had to expand the size of their dugouts at Green Meadow if they wanted to play at Premier Division level. While the club remained confident that they could meet regulations, but officials debated whether they would move to a different ground.

n Mark Royal continued his rich vein of form in 2011 with victory at the Bowls Welsh Grand Prix. He defeated former Scotland number one David Gourlay in a tense final.

n Olafs Sirmanis established his reputation as one of the most highly-rated amateur boxers in the country with a knock-down victory against Marcus Poston. Sirmanis equalled a feat shared with former world champion Amir Khan. The Latvian international had only been floored once in 85 bouts, his only knockdown suffered against Khan himself.

n Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ fans were celebrating the British Speedway Promoters Association (BSPA) U-turn decision to reinstate the speedway outfit as a National League outfit. The Tigers secured their financial future with the announcement of a successful buy-out by Chris Louis, Kevin Jolly and Michael Lee, believed to have cost £15,000.

n Former Bury Cricket Club pace bowler Hamish Bennett made a name for himself on an international scale after starring in New Zealand’s opening 2011 World Cup demolition of Kenya. The Kiwi spent a season at Bury back in 2008 and admitted he would not rule out a move back to Bury despite his recent fame.

March

n Needham Market FC edged a Suffolk derby clash against AFC Sudbury with a 3-2 win. But they had Cambridge United loanee Jack Eades to thank for his contribution. The debutant played his part in all three goals, scoring two and assisting the third. But Needham manager Danny Laws admitted the plan was for Eades to just watch the match, but had a change of heart before kick-off.

n Bury St. Edmunds Rugby Club axed head coach Roger Coombs as part of a cost-cutting exercise. The Welshman was deemed surplus to requirements after the rugby club completed a deal to buy their ground, The Haberden, from the St, Edmunsdbury Borough Council in a move that alleviated their financial troubles.

n James Scowcroft started his weekly column at the Bury Free Press, writing about his experiences at Bury Town and football in general up until the summer.

n Robert Henry was unveiled as the new team chief of the Mildenhall Fen Tigers, returning to the speedway team he once played for decades ago. He helped the club win the National League title in 1979.

n Bury Bombers wheelchair basketball team were crowned champions of National Division Two South following an emphatic 81-31 victory over title rivals Cardiff Celts.

April

n Former Bury Town striker Lee Underwood revealed to the Bury Free Press about his new life in the United States of America after signing for professional soccer club San Diego Flash. But the American club was later disqualified from claiming a US Open Cup spot after playing an ineligible Underwood who still had a legally binding contract to Bury Town.

n Lakenheath Football Club lost 1-0 against Whitton United in the Suffolk Senior Cup Final at Portman Road.

n Triathlon legend Chrissie Wellington etched her name further into history after beating her own Ironman world record in South Africa, The 34-year-old, who was born in Bury St. Edmunds, registered a ground-breaking final time of 8hrs, 33mins and 56 secs.

n Bury Town defeated Needham Market 2-0 to claim their tenth Suffolk Premier Cup title. Sam Reed scored both the goals in front of 1,448 fans at Portman Road.

May

n Suffolk Premier Cup winners Bury Town missed out on promotion from the Ryman Premier Division after a 2-1 loss to Lowestoft Town in the play-off semi-finals. Premier Cup finalists Needham Market also failed to clinch promotion from the Ryman Division One at the semi-final hurdle following their 3-1 loss to Brentwood Town.

n Top-scoring Ashes batsman Alastair Cook and Six Nations star Chris Ashton were guests of honour at Bury Rugby Club’s Haberden ground. The England Sevens rugby team played against the Bury St. Edmunds Gents team, despite losing 47-10, the event was well attended.

n Former Bury Town winger Danny Cunningham returned to Ram Meadow after leaving Ridgeons League Premier Division champions Leiston. He becomes the first signing as Bury look to mount another promotion push after their play-off defeat.

n Stowmarket speedster Josh Webster won his second race of the 2011 Prototype Formula Renault BARC Championship, The 17-year-old led the overall rankings at this stage before eventually finishing second by nine points.

June

n 15-year-old Australian sensation Cameron Heeps had his bid to ride for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers blocked by the BSPA despite his visa stating he can live, work and be educated in the country, However, the decision was overturned later in the month after the Heep family appealed against the original decision. Heep went on to have a spectacular debut season at Mildenhall.

n Bury St. Edmunds swimmer, Chris Walker-Hebborn secured a gold medal at the British Gas ASA National Championships and with it, a place in the British team for the World Championships in Shanghai.

n Former WBC Heavyweight Champion Frank Bruno made an appearance in Thetford to help promote a sports experience day for disabled children. The event was deemed a success by the Presidents Sporting Club/ Essex Disabled Sports Foundation charity.