‘Such a shame’ - football club collapses due to lack of players
- Credit: Archant
A non-league team formed in the 1970s has folded due to a lack of players.
Hingham Athletic FC has collapsed and withdrawn from Anglian Combination Division 2, meaning it will play no part in the new season.
Preparations for the campaign had been well under way, with the club announcing a host of summer signings and playing a number of pre-season friendlies.
But the departure of several key men eventually left The Hornets with just nine players and unable to fulfil upcoming fixtures.
Chris Robinson, involved with Hingham Athletic for 21 years - most recently as chairman - said withdrawing had been one of his saddest moments in football.
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“For this to happen is unbelievable,” added Mr Robinson. “I still cannot get my head round it and the disappointment is hard to explain.
“It is such a shame and so unfortunate. When I made to call to withdraw us from the league, I cried afterwards.”
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Having moved to Hingham in the late-1990s, Mr Robinson lived opposite the playing field and soon joined Hingham Athletic as a goalkeeper.
The 58-year-old also spent a period outfield, before dedicating himself to the club as a coach, manager and even groundsman.
In recent years Athletic enjoyed back-to-back promotions, elevating them to the highest level in their history.
But struggles began to set in during the 2019/20 season as the reserve team collapsed and non-league heavyweights with significant financial muscle came calling for some of their most talented players.
“At this level you are going to have players getting poached by clubs who can pay them,” said Mr Robinson. “We lost the spine of our side - all to the same club.
“It got worse and in the end we had only nine players left. We just cannot compete when people are getting paid to play football.”
Athletic’s difficulties were, according to Mr Robinson, further compounded by a distinct lack of local interest.
“Hingham is only a small town and, to be honest, there are simply no players here,” he added. “The youth of today are just not playing football like they used to.
“I’ve done all I can and now I can only thank everybody for their contributions over the years. I feel proud to have taken Hingham to the highest level it has ever played football.”