We quit! Heath in a league stunner
THE most successful Sunday football team in a league s history have sensationally folded – because of a lack of players, writes DAVE RYAN. Heath Sports collected an impressive array of trophies over 11 years but dropped out of the Halls of Cambridge Sunda
THE most successful Sunday football team in a league's history have sensationally folded - because of a lack of players, writes DAVE RYAN.
Heath Sports collected an impressive array of trophies over 11 years but dropped out of the Halls of Cambridge Sunday League with three of their 20 games remaining.
The decision to quit came just a week after they had collected the Cambridgeshire Sunday Cup for a record fourth time, with a 4-1 victory over Bar Hill at Cambridge Stadium.
"We had all got old together and it had become a battle of attrition to get enough players to raise a side," said player-secretary Raith Mitchell, 34, a founder-member of the club who had played for them throughout their history.
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"To be honest, if we hadn't had a cup final, I doubt we'd have played as many league games as we did.
"The average age of the registered players was 31. Injuries were taking longer to heal and everyone was struggling.
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"We could have struggled to get a bare 11 players together just to get stuffed, which happened in the couple of games prior to the final.
"But there didn't seem to be a lot of point in that - we'd already decided to chuck it in next year.
"Matt Thorogood, the manager, said he'd had enough and we couldn't keep asking people to play with injuries."
League secretary Anthony Pringle said he was very disappointed with Heath's decision to quit with just three games of the season remaining. He said: "Perhaps it was all too easy for them at one stage or were they worried about actually losing?" Mitchell said: "I understand the league's viewpoint. It leaves a bitter taste in everyone's mouth."
Heath's last two league games saw them lose to local rivals White Bear, and the Royston side look set to replace them as the top Sunday league side in the town, although they could be joined in the top division by JM Metals next season.
The team contained several current Royston Town players, with Chris Geldart, Martin Westcott and Ryan Cannon all on the scoresheet for them this season, and former Crows Paul Webb, Martyn Tokley and Ian Tokley have turned out for them during this campaign.
The team entered the league for the 1995/96 season, and a fourth-placed finish in Division 5B was enough to see them move up to Division 4B.
That proved to be the start of a remarkable run for the Royston side, winning three straight league titles to march up the divisions before finishing runners-up in Division 1B in 1999/2000.
That title was collected the following season, and promotion to the Senior Division did not slow them down as they won the league title, to complete a remarkable run of five league championships in six seasons.
Third place was achieved in both 2002/03 and 2003/04, while last season saw them finish runners-up.
Their successes were not confined to league games. As a fourth division side they were runners-up in the league cup in 1996/97, and won it three years later. They also won the Lower Junior Cup in 1996/97 and the Junior Cup in 1999/2000, and the Cambridgeshire FA Centenary Cup in 1997.