Mixed reserve-team fortunes for Dereham Town and Lowestoft Town at Thurlow Nunn League AGM
- Credit: Matthew Usher
Dereham Town's rapid rise up Norfolk's non-league scene was given a further boost at the Thurlow Nunn League's annual general meeting on Saturday.
While the club's first team have been promoted out of the Premier Division, a Magpies' reserve team will begin next term in the First Division – the same league Dereham's senior side entered in just 1998.
It was also a good AGM for AFC Sudbury and Needham Market who had second-string teams accepted into the Eastern Counties League's second tier. But it was a bad day for Lowestoft Town who failed with their bid to enter an outfit into the same division next season.
Thurlow Nunn League chairman Peter Hutchings said: 'We took in Braintree Town Reserves last season as they were accepted by the clubs. They made a gentleman's agreement to not play any contracted players in their side.
'They stuck to that for the full season and the clubs appreciated that. We were going to be short of teams this season and the FA said it was down to the league, and we said it was down to the clubs, to make the decision on new teams.
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'All reserve sides were asked if they would adhere to the same gentleman's agreement. All three (Dereham, Sudbury and Needham) agreed without hesitation. Lowestoft felt they were unable to agree with that and asked to make a representation to the meeting to put their point of view across, which they did.
'A proposition from the floor was that the three clubs should be taken in as one group. But the clubs decided they didn't want to support Lowestoft's application if they were unable to give the gentleman's agreement.'
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Champions Dereham Town and United Counties League bound Wisbech Town have left the Premier Division while Wivenhoe Town, Thetford Town and FC Clacton were all given relegation reprieves. Godmanchester Rovers were named in the top-tier's constitution and will learn this week if the FA have approved their wish to not be switched into the UCL.
First Division champions Cambridge University Press have pulled out of the league because they can no longer ground share with Histon. Second and third-placed Newmarket Town and Brightlingsea Regent have been promoted. Taking their places are the new reserve sides, plus promoted Haverhill Borough, as the second-tier looks set to start with 19 teams rather than the 18 it ended with.
Dereham first-team boss Matt Henman said: 'Our reserves being accepted has topped off a fantastic six months for the club. It's brilliant news.
'It's a standard where players, in what will virtually be an under-21s side, can really develop. It gives them a fantastic chance of progression. With our new soccer school starting too in September, there's a real solid look to the club. We're now in a unique position in the county.'
In other main news, it was decided the club that finishes at the foot of the Premier Division next term will definitely be relegated. The League have also introduced a 'family-friendly' campaign to help reduce foul language on the pitch and at grounds.