Another bumper year of sporting success

SNOWING UP: Action from a blizzard-hit The Haberden in which Bury St Edmunds clinched the London One North title with victory over Chingford
SNOWING UP: Action from a blizzard-hit The Haberden in which Bury St Edmunds clinched the London One North title with victory over Chingford
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As another bumper year of sporting success draws to a close, sports reporter SAM MURLEY looks back on who was making the headlines in the Bury Free Press throughout 2013 in the first of a two-part series.

The year kicked off in positive fashion for Bury Town and manager Richard Wilkins with the confirmation that captain and fans’ favourite Tom Bullard had committed his future to the club by signing a new contract.

The news came at a particularly poignant time for the 24-year-old skipper with the news he had also been awarded his testimonial to mark his 10 years of service to the Ram Meadow-based outfit.

The month also saw Mildenhall’s Tony West thrust into a tale reminiscent of a Hollywood blockbuster after starring at the World Championship of Ping Pong.

After discovering a French competitor had failed to appear, the 44-year-old — who had failed to qualify — miraculously found himself in front of the Sky Sports cameras at Alexandra Palace, North London, where he would go on to reach the last 16 and scoop a £2,000 windfall.

Former professional footballer Richard Logan also signed for Bury Town, while popular speedway figure Jon ‘Mighty Midget’ Armstrong made a welcome return to the National League and the Mildenhall Fen Tigers.

February heralded the completion of a lifelong ambition for 39-year-old Alan Macpherson after conquering the gruelling Ultraman World Championships in Hawaii.

Reflecting on his ‘coming of age in sport’ Mr Mad, as he is affectionately known, completed the 320-mile, three-day event in 28 hours 53 minutes and 54 seconds.

In the same week Bury Golf Club began extensive redevelopment work on their course, Needham Market turned to former manager Mark Morsley with the news that Danny Laws would be stepping down.

The former Leiston manager would not take the reigns until the summer, while Laws would later move in the opposite direction, followed by Marketmen chairman David Bugg in June.

The month would end with the news that 19-year-old Mickfield rising race ace Josh Webster would be looking forward to mixing with Formula One’s superstars after signing a deal with GP3 team Status Grand Prix.

Bury swimmer Chris Walker-Hebborn went some way to put his Olympic demons behind him in March by stunning a star-studded field at the British Gas International Meet in Leeds.

The 23-year-old, who had endured a disappointing London 2012, clinched wins in both the 100m and 200m backstroke events, beating long-standing rival Liam Tancock.

Culford Sports scholar Lucy Holder was setting her sights on impressing international selectors after being one of only 65 girls from around the country to attend a selection day for the under-16 England hockey squad, while seven-year-old gymnast Masie Squire was celebrating being selected among the Suffolk county squad.

Following an incredible season, Bury RFC overcame not only visiting Chingford, but also a snow blizzard to finally clinch the London One North title.

They would go on to cement their place as ‘The Invincibles’ a month later with a 26th consecutive league victory.

In the same week of April that John Sands announced his intentions to leave Bury Town in the summer, former England international cricketer Nick Knight visited the planned Victory Ground redevelopment site in Bury St Edmunds, describing it as crucial to young sportsmen and women in the area.

But while Bury Croquet Club’s David Crawford was setting his sights on glory at the World Championships in Egypt, Stowmarket Striders member Frank Moggan was left to reflect on the devastation and utter chaos that had unfolded in front of him at the Boston Marathon bombings.

Having just completed the course and on the way to collect his medal, the 63-year-old could only watch on horror as just 500 metres away two explosions near the finish line turned Boston’s Patriots Day celebrations into a bloodbath, leaving three people dead and more than 170 injured.

Double Olympic champion and newly-installed golden girl of cycling Laura Trott gave May’s Elveden Estate Cycle Series race a huge boost by competing in the women’s race and a one off of the men’s around a five-kilometre closed-road circuit within the estate.

Another double Olympic medallist made a special appearance as lightweight sculler Zac Purchase helped raise £2,500 at a SportsAid Lunch Club event in Fornham St Genevieve, while Stowmarket Volleyball team reclaimed the Suffolk Cup from Newmarket in a 25-16 success.

The ever-popular international rugby Sevens returned to The Haberden with Premiership sides Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers, Saracens and Worcester Warriors — as well as top invitational side Samurai Barracudas — all competing, while Bury Town celebrated lifting the Suffolk Premier Cup following a 2-0 win over Lowestoft Town.

Former King Edward VI School pupil Ed Upson was left to look forward to life in the Championship after helping to guide Yeovil Town to promotion from League One following a 2-1 play-off final over Brentwood, while Oli Basey-Fisher secured his first national victory in sports cars by taking the win in round nine of the Protyre Motosport Ginetta GT5 Challenge.

While the first half of the year started with good news for Bury Town fans, it ended with disappointment as popular players Sam Reed and Mark Coulson left the club in June, ending a combined nine-and-a-half years of service to the Blues.

In what had been an incredible season, Bury RFC enjoyed further celebrations as Stewart Horne was recognised with an award at the Eastern Counties RFU Annula dinner in light of his exceptional volunteer work with the club.

Stowmarket golfer Patrick Spraggs was dreaming of a place on the PGA European Tour after signalling his intentions to turn professional, while all roads led to Rome for 22-year-old Stephen Dunne as he and seven others embarked on a 1,200 running challenge from London to Rome as part of the Italian Jog Challenge.

Another sportsman with his set sights on success was 15-year-old javelin star Harry Hughes who was gearing up to compete abroad for the first time as he headed to Czech Republic for the World Schools Championships.