Debenham LC: Relegation from the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North, 22 players departing and a new chairman who stepped up
‘I didn’t want to see the club fail’.
Those are the words of new Debenham LC chairman Simon Sparrow, after he stepped up to take the reigns of a club that was in needing leadership through a reboot.
The Hornets were relegated from the Thurlow Nunn League First Division North last season - ending 18 years across Step 5 & 6 - after they picked up just five wins from their 36 games and are now plying their trade in the Macron Suffolk & Ipswich League Senior Division.
The repercussions of relegation can be damaging for some clubs and for Debenham LC they were devastating.
Former chairman Chris Conway departed and 22 players followed him through the exit door at Friends’ Meadow in the summer, which left the club with a sizeable rebuild ahead of them.
“I’m born and bred in the village, it’s where my heart is and I didn’t want to see the club fail,” said Sparrow.
“All of the credit goes to Andrew Crisp (manager) for getting the side together to start the beginning of the season because he’s literally had to go and find a completely new squad, and in this day and age that’s not very easy.
“The club has lost its way with the community as it’s been playing in the higher level that it has been for so long (18 years across Steps 5 & 6). It’s been tough because we lost all the players, everyone disappeared.
Sparrow is not new to the club, in fact far from it. He has been building the Hornets’ youth set-up for five years and has now got to a stage where a team is represented in every age group, with more than 200 players taking part. He is still chairing the youth sides this season on top of his first team duties.
Since he took charge, Sparrow has tried his best by taking ‘small steps’ to rejuvenate the club that was ‘essentially starting again’.
“We’ve rebranded and we’ve changed the badge so that the youth and the seniors have the same crest – whereas before they had different ones. We’re now one club, with one badge,” said Sparrow.
“We’ve formed a new committee and we’ve been working hard to get sponsors and advertisers to get money to help the team going forward.”
The new-look Debenham LC have been the entertainers in the Senior Division this season as, sitting in third place in the early league table, their six games in all competitions have conjured up 33 goals.
Their most recent outing came away at Tattingstone United on Saturday where they ran out 4-1 winners, thanks to a brace from Sam Sharp as well as goals from Nile Francis and Ashley Rankin.
Sparrow said: “They’re a good bunch of lads, they’re a tight knit group and they seem to get on really well with each other. It’s hard to judge (at this stage) how we’ll do in the season. We’ve had some good results and some where we haven’t played very well but that’s part of learning and going together.
“It’s nice to be playing football and seeing people happy, whereas last season they lost nearly every game. It’s hard to get that out of the system and go again.”
The new chairman admitted that because of the financial climate, he does not feel that The Hornets are in a position where they can bounce straight back up and he seems relieved more than anything just to see a team on the pitch this season.
A new start with a new identity for Debenham LC.
They continue their campaign at home to Wickham Market tomorrow (2.30pm).