Fakenham players decide they have had enough

Fakenham have pulled out of the Eastern Counties League in mid-season after a series of demoralising defeats.

A disappointing campaign hit a new low last month when mid-table Ely visited Old Wells Road and came away with a thumping 69-0 victory.

That followed hard on the heels of a 77-0 home drubbing at the hands of Division One leaders Stowmarket and with the team clearly struggling badly the players were given the opportunity to vote on whether they should battle on – or quit the league structure.

The majority said it was time to stop playing competitive rugby at Eastern Counties level, leaving Fakenham's second team and the youth and women's sides to fly the flag for the club this season.

Secretary/treasurer Chris Evans said Fakenham's problems went back to the end of last season when they finished second from bottom in Division One but were not relegated to the lower tier, where competition would have been less fierce.

'We knew it would be tough this season but it gradually became evident that we weren't up to the standard required in Division One,' he said.

'We have got some players here who are good enough to play at that level, but for others it was a struggle.

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'In the end we had to make a considered decision on the best way forward for the club and thought it was only fair to let the players decide for themselves.'

Because Fakenham pulled out of the league in mid-season they won't be able to apply to join Division Two in the summer but Evans insists the future of the club is secure.

'We have got a good second team, who are doing well in Division Three of the Norfolk Merit Table, while our ladies and under-16s are also strong. The club finances are stable, we own our land and don't have a mortgage on the clubhouse.

'It's certainly not all gloom and doom. Everything is in place, but we do need some more players.'

One team to benefit from Fakenham's withdrawal and the adjusted league table are county rivals West Norfolk. Instead of trailing leaders Stowmarket by 13 points, the King's Lynn-based side are now only three points adrift.