After 48 games, two league titles and 180 goals, the remarkable unbeaten record of Norman Wanderers is brought to an end
As their remarkable unbeaten record ends, DAVID FREEZER finds out how Norman Wanderers intend to bounce back
Having not tasted defeat for more than two and a half years, losing 3-1 at Acle Rangers on Sunday could have been a bitter pill to swallow for Norman Wanderers.
The Norwich & District Sunday League Premier Division champions were able to take the loss in their stride though, having enjoyed a remarkable run of form.
'In a strange way, I'm glad it's over,' joked joint manager Dave Freeman. 'Every team we've faced in the last 20-odd games, from last season to this, every one just gave that little bit extra against us because they were desperate to bring our run to an end.
'You really sensed that against Acle because they became a bit tense towards the end as they, quite rightly, wanted to beat us.'
The loss at Acle brought an end to a 48-match unbeaten run in which Norman, who play at Sloughbottom Park in Norwich, won 40 games and scored over 180 goals.
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Freeman and Luke Durrant took over as managers in the summer of 2012, with the club's unbeaten record starting with two wins at the end of the 2011/12 season, finishing sixth in Division 1A.
Eighteen wins and four draws later and the pair had led Norman to the 1A title.
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Then with another 16 wins and another four draws in the bag, they claimed the Premier Division title after a second successive unbeaten league season.
The record continued with straight wins at the start of this campaign, before Sunday's trip to Acle finally saw Norman reminded of the taste of defeat.
'I'd said to the lads before the game that you never get an easy game at Acle on a Sunday morning, it's always difficult,' Freeman continued.
'Last season we went there on the last day of the season and hung on a bit (drawing 1-1) but on Sunday, we had quite a strong side out but we didn't play well and we deserved to lose.
'I'd say the only time our record has been in real danger was on Sunday and the time we played away at Acle last season.'
Norman saw player-of-the-season Sammy Gauntlet join Anglian Combination Premier Division side Spixworth this summer and goalkeeper Stuart Palmer have a hernia operation.
'It is a bit of a transition stage for us at the moment,' Freeman added. 'But we start again on Sunday, when we've got another of the teams who are up there in the division, Riverside Rovers.'