Walsham’s vow

Coach Jon Curry has vowed to go one better next season after North Walsham suffered the heartbreak of another failed promotion attempt.

Coach Jon Curry has vowed to go one better next season after North Walsham suffered the heartbreak of another failed promotion attempt.

Walsham blew their chance of automatic promotion when they were pipped at the post by Cambridge three weeks ago.

The consolation was a play-off on Saturday - but it all went pear-shaped again as Nuneaton stunned a huge Scottow ground to earn themselves a place in National League Division Two next season.

Having seen his team go down 15-6, Curry turned his attentions to what is certain to be a busy summer as he seeks to strengthen his squad in time for another go at the elusive National League Division Three South crown.

"We will have to try and go one better next year than we did this year, that's the challenge to us all," said Curry. "What has happened this year has highlighted where we can improve certain areas of the club's management, not just the team management, and how we can improve in terms of fund-raising and sponsorship and infrastructure."

As far as the playing side is concerned, Curry will definitely be without Kenny Dodds, who retired after Saturday's game, while he has question marks over others.

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"It will be a busy summer," said Curry. "There are a lot of lads who have taken a lot of knocks out there, people like Tim Groom and Stuart Loose and Gideon Roussow. Stuart will be around next year but I will just have to wait and see with Gideon and Groomy. Hopefully they will still be around.

"I have to look at the playing staff - I know what players I would like to come in, I know what players we are losing, I have a good idea. There are some very good local players around, there are lads we need to bring in.

"We have some very good young players here. You look at that side at the end and we had two teenagers and a 20-year-old in the back row by the end of the game, we had a teenager at scrum-half, lots and lots of young guys around the pitch, all 21, 22 years old. Our lineout is something we need to strengthen and obviously we will need to replace Kenny Dodds. But I will do it, we will do it."

Saturday's defeat came three weeks after an agonising one-point defeat at Southend handed the title to Cambridge. That left them to face the runners-up in National League Division Three North, Nuneaton and before the dust had settled on another disappointing defeat, Curry had pin-pointed the root of Walsham's problem.

"Dead simple - the three weeks without a game, that's what cost us this," he said. "I knew it was going to be a struggle today, but I think we would have beaten Nuneaton any other day of the season. They are a good side, but we've had three weeks without a game.

"There were so many little things that went wrong today, so many balls that went down, balls that didn't go into touch. We were just rusty and that's what's cost us.

"You couldn't fault the effort of anybody; the defence first half was fantastic. Second half the supply of ball dried up, but the little things, the rustiness in the lineout - all the things you need to have week in week out and we didn't have it today."

Walsham - without Southern Hemisphere players Andy Steele and Andy Gowling and injured winger Pena Sokia - started brightly enough, forcing Nuneaton on the defensive for the first 25 minutes and taking a 6-0 lead into half-time, thanks to a brace of Andy Dickson penalties.

But the Nuns had ended the half strongly and, despite being a man down, were three points ahead just 10 minutes into the second half - and when they took their penalty tally to five just 10 minutes from time, the game was out of Walsham's reach.

"We had it all in our hands in the first half - second half they played the conditions," said Curry. "They played well and we just couldn't string the phases together. Too many new combinations, and too much ring rustiness. Too many new faces - we had a lot of changes, enforced changes, and it was always going to be difficult for us and that's how it proved in the end.

"It is a huge disappointment, it is a big upset the lads have had to take and telling them it's the best season the club's ever had and that we are the best amateur team in the country, by a long way, means nothing on a day like today, because this was the Holy Grail.

"But for me, it just means I am going to be more focussed on winning it next year. And now that I know what is happening I will be positive and I am upbeat."