Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League Premier Division Season Preview 2021/2022
By Andrew Dunn
Not many clubs played more than a dozen games during the aborted 2020/21 season in the Thurlow Nunn Eastern Counties League, Premier Division.
From the handful of games that did get played, it was Wroxham who led the way after winning all of their 10 matches. A repeat of such a return would probably make them one of the favourites for the title this time round. We will never know of course whether they would have been able to sustain their early season form from last year, but being top of the table was a marked improvement from their finishes of previous years.
If Wroxham are going to mount a challenge for the title, then they will be aided by the fact that Stowmarket Town will be absent this year after they gained promotion to the Isthmian League North. The division will also be missing Godmanchester Rovers, FC Clacton, and Stanway Rovers who have all been moved as part of a re-structure. To replace them, the division welcomes Lakenheath, Fakenham Town, March Town United and Mulbarton Wanderers – all of whom have been there or thereabouts in the First Division North in recent seasons. One player to look out for from that quartet of teams will be March hotshot Jack Friend, who is a prolific striker and has already found the net several times already during pre-season.
Hot on the heels of Wroxham last season were Norwich United who could mount a challenge once again, especially as they occupied the runners-up spot at the time of the first curtailment in March 2020. Brantham Athletic had a good mini-season last year which included equalling their best FA Cup performance when they progressed to the second qualifying round. The round before they dumped St Ives Town from the Southern League Central out of the competition. Brantham were third when the season was abandoned.
As for the rest, possibly Mildenhall Town are worth a mention as they will be looking to get back to the Isthmian League. They had two seasons in the North Division, but after finishing bottom in the 18/19 season, they were relegated and were 8th before the pandemic struck in March 2020. So, it will be interesting to see how they get on with a full season available.
Ground hoppers might want to get to see a game this season at Emerald Park, the home of Gorleston Town. The Greens stand to lose their home to housing and move to a proposed site at East Norfolk Sixth Form College. Whilst the Unwin Ground, the home of Ely City offers a picturesque backdrop of Ely Cathedral.
Just a few miles south of Ely City is Newmarket Town, and they could be a decent pre-season tip for the title. The Jockeys have invested heavily in their personnel over the summer with a number of players signing who have played at a higher level. Former Histon skipper, Max York is one of them and he will bring a massive amount of experience to the squad. They have also signed another former Histon player in the shape of James Chivers whilst ex-Cambridge City striker James Hall is another who has been added. These are certainly eye-catching additions, and if it all comes together on the park, they could well be the team to beat this season.
1: Brantham Athletic, 2: Ely City, 3: Fakenham Town, 4: Gorleston, 5: Hadleigh United, 6: Haverhill Rovers, 7: Kirkley & Pakefield, 8: Lakenheath, 9: Long Melford, 10: March Town United, 11: Mildenhall Town, 12: Newmarket Town, 13: Mulbarton Wanderers, 14: Norwich United, 15: Swaffham Town, 16: Thetford Town, 17: Walsham Le Willows, 18: Whitton United, 19: Woodbridge Town, 20: Wroxham
Opening day fixtures: 31st July 2021
Brantham Athletic v Fakenham Town Ely City v Woodbridge Town Lakenheath v Thetford Town March Town United v Hadleigh United Mulbarton Wanderers v Mildenhall Town Newmarket Town v Kirkley & Pakefield Norwich United v Haverhill Rovers Walsham Le Willows v Wroxham Whitton United v Swaffham Town