Year in review: British titles, play-off joy and punnets of mushrooms ensured 2014 was a sporting success
- Credit: James Bass
With another year of sporting action behind us, sports writer David Freezer takes a look at the highs and lows of our region's sport stars.
Commonwealth medals, British titles, play-off drama, the bright lights of Las Vegas and free punnets of mushrooms – just some of the ingredients which made for another classic sporting year in our region.
From success on the football pitch for Lowestoft Town, through to Elite League heartbreak for King's Lynn Stars, local sport has certainly provided plenty of entertainment in the past 12 months.
The year started with Fakenham's Mervyn King going close to glory at the World Indoor Bowls Championship in January, losing to Scotland's Darren Burnett in the Open Singles Championship final, to miss out on a second world indoor title at Potters Resort in Hopton-on-Sea.
There was also a near-miss for Norwich's Bex Field who lost her Women's Matchplay singles crown in the final, losing 14-4 11-3 to Katherine Rednall.
February saw the sporting world's eyes drawn to the snow-covered slopes of Socchi for the Winter Olympics but locally attentions turned to Clarke's Snooker Club in Norwich, for the visit of snooker legend Jimmy White.
In football, it was a difficult time for Great Yarmouth Town, as manager Mike Derbyshire was sacked after two and a half years in charge with the Bloaters pushing for promotion in the Thurlow Nunn First Division, after a fallout behind the scenes.
March brought success for Brandon cricketer Tymal Mills, with the fast bowler taking three wickets for England Lions to help wrap up an impressive series success in Sri Lanka. Mills wasn't able to continue his success for club side Essex though and after a frustrating season has made the switch to Sussex in search of a fresh start in 2015.
It was also a good month for Lowestoft boxer Anthony Ogogo, with the Olympic bronze medallist registering the fifth win of his professional career with a 60-54 win over Greg O'Neill in Glasgow.
The rugby season drew to a close in April, with Diss unable to escape the clutches of relegation in London One North and joining Holt and Norwich in London 2NE. North Walsham then compounded the misery by beating Diss 48-3 in the Woodfordes Norfolk Senior Cup final at Scottow.
There was better news for snowboarder Kyle Wise, from Burgh St Peter near Beccles, who claimed the Trespass British Snowboardcross Championship crown in France.
May was all about the town of Lowestoft though, on a very special bank holiday weekend.
On the Saturday night boxer Anthony Ogogo won his first ever fight in Las Vegas, stopping Jonel Tapia in the third round of their fight on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather's fight against Marcos Maidana at the MGM Grand.
Then on the Monday it was the turn of Lowestoft Town to take the spotlight, having lost just twice in 19 matches to reach the Ryman Premier play-off final for the fourth successive season.
They finally ended their play-off hoodoo, comfortably beating Hornchurch 3-0 in front of over 2,600 fans at Crown Meadow to finally secure promotion to the Conference set-up.
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The football World Cup took centre stage in June but English rugby union fans had their attentions fixed on the other side of the world, where Norfolk scrum-half was among the England squad for a three-Test series with New Zealand.
England lost all three matches despite pushing the world champions hard but Youngs began to show his best form, which would eventually see him reclaim the No9 jersey from Danny Care by the end of the year.
Back home it was an exciting month for Norwich Youth Bowling Club as they hosted the British Junior Open at the Namco Funscape bowling Alley in Bowthorpe.
July was all about the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, with plenty of Norfolk and Suffolk representation on the medal podium.
Dereham shooter Mick Gault equalled a Commonwealth record when he won bronze in the 10-metre air pistol, winning the 18th medal of his career at the age of 60, before retiring to spend more time with his wife.
North Lopham judoka Colin Oates won gold in the under-66kg category and there were squash silver medals for Great Yarmouth-born Laura Masaro and North Walsham-born James Willstrop, while Fakenham bowls player Jamie Chestney won silver in the men's fours.
Norfolk CCC brought an end to a mixed season in the Minor Counties Championship in August, finishing in mid-table in the Unicorns Championship Eastern Division.
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Three rain-affected draws and a loss at Cumberland made for a frustrating start to the season before a 91-run win against Suffolk during the Norfolk Festival of Cricket and an 125-run loss at Bedfordshire completed their campaign.
September was a month of celebration yet again for Swardeston Cricket Club, as they secured their third successive East Anglian Premier League title.
Bungay Town Football Club hit the national headlines in the same month, after a novel idea to attract people to come and watch their Anglian Combination Division Two clash with Martham.
Over 100 fans took up the offer of a free punnet of mushrooms and pay-what-you-like ticket price, after the story went viral online and was reported all around the world.
There was disappointment for King's Lynn Stars in October, as there Elite League campaign was brought to an end by Eastbourne in the play-off semi-finals.
The 92-87 aggregate defeat ended a campaign which had seen Lynn fly out of the gates and sit top of the league for much of the season, before injuries began to mount and their momentum disappeared.
A remarkable record was brought to an end in the Norwich & District Sunday Football League in the same month.
After 48 games, two league titles and 180 goals, the unbeaten record of Norman Wanderers was finally brought to an end by a 3-1 loss at Acle Rangers.
The Auto GP Team Championship reached an exciting climax for two Norfolk motorsport teams in November.
Super Nova International, based at Griston near Watton, were the two-time defending title holders going into the final two races at the Estoril Circuit in Portugal, while Carlton Rode-based Virtuosi UK squad were trying to grab the crown from their near neighbours.
Virtuosi pushed their rivals all the way but Super Nova managed to hang on to their team title by just six points.
The Norfolk boxing world was doing the celebrating by the end of the month though, as Cromer 28-year-old Liam Walsh won his first British title.
Walsh beat Gary Sykes on points at London's Excel Arena to become the new British super-featherweight champion, to add to his commonwealth title.
As the year has drawn to a close, one local football team in particular has taken centre stage, setting up what could be an exciting 2015.
Norwich United are dominating the Thurlow Nunn Premier Division after losing just one of their last 17 matches, winning all of the other 16.
The Blofield-based Planters are six points clear at the top of the table, have applied for promotion to step four of the non-league pyramid and have an FA Vase fourth round tie at Kent club Ashford United to look forward to in January.
As for so many of our local sporting stars, the new year promises much for the Planters, but first they must match the high standards which have been set in 2014.
What was your local sporting highlight of the year? Leave your comments below or tweet @davefreezer.