Despite the tragedy of Josh Gilbert’s death, Thurston Rangers’ first team have made a flying start to top the early Greene King IPA Eastern Counties One West season — and chairman Matt Ansell feels they are well equipped to secure promotion.
Saturday saw Thurston run riot over bottom side Haverhill, recording a 71-3 victory in front of a bumper crowd thought to number in excess of 250 as the club returned to action following second-team prop Gilbert’s death in a match which saw them pay their respects as a club before and after.
With three wins from their opening three fixtures, Thurston sit top of the division, despite having a game in hand, ahead of tomorrow’s trip to face Shelford III (3pm).
And club chairman and first-team player Ansell is confident an historic promotion to the highest level in their history is a realistic target this year.
“Our stated aim at the start of the season was for both our teams to win their leagues,” he said.
“Currently the first team are top and we want to take the step up to the London League for the first time. The squad this year should allow us to do that.”
The summer’s restructure has meant that each division in the Eastern Counties League will split after Christmas with the top two sides from each of the regional variations of that level carrying across their points into a new mini-league against each other, with the top two promoted.
Ex-Bury player Jono Farmer, who has played at a high level in New Zealand, is making his influence felt on Thurston’s coaching staff, assisting Mark Jones permanently this season.
Thurston II also pulled off a good victory at Robinson Feild on Saturday — in what Ansell described as a fitting tribute to Gilbert — 55-13 against Sudbury Tigers. They host Bury St Edmunds IV in a derby tomorrow (3pm).
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