Football and Cricket

Long Melford Football Club: An Illustrious History

Long Melford Football Club is the tenth oldest football club in the country. The earliest record of the Club is 14th January 1868, playing in the village on the Church Green against Ipswich Rangers. Melford won 5-1; a great start to an illustrious history.

At that time, there wasn’t a selection of balls to choose from as there is now. They were very expensive. The team had to make do with an animal bladder covered in hessian. Eventually, the village launched a “Penny a Week” campaign and a leather ball was purchased.  In those early days, the Holy Trinity Church was interlinked with the football club and the family at the Rectory keen supporters.

The team moved to various ground locations in the village. Along the way, it became very successful and the 1887/88 season was a particular high point. Melford won the Suffolk Senior Cup in 1887 beating Woodbridge Town 1-0 in a replay after beating Ipswich Town in the semi-final. The total running expenses for the club during that season amounted to £30 with a deficit arising of 10 shillings and 10 pence, which members met from their own pockets.  

One of the Melford players, William Neville Cobbald, was capped by England in the period 1883 to 1888. In 1895 they again won the Suffolk Senior Cup.

The third victory in the Suffolk Senior Cup came in 1908/09. Melford continued to thrive throughout both war periods playing at different venues throughout the village. There was always great rivalry between Sudbury and Long Melford and some of the games would attract in excess of 2000 spectators! 

Encompassing peaks and troughs, Melford survived some dramatic years and eventually purchased, through public subscription, their present ground ‘Stoneylands’ in the late 1940’s.

Over the years, Melford has enjoyed the benefits of having several talented professionals turn out and against at the club.  In the late 1940’s Alf Chalkley, ex West Ham fall back, who kept the Black Lion Public House was appointed player coach. Soon after this Bert Barlow, ex Barnsley / Wolves / Leicester player, became player-coach. Barlow’s career had included winning an FA Cup winners medal with Portsmouth in 1939, when he scored two goals in the 4:1 victory over Wolves.  

Three years on, Long Melford again won the Suffolk Senior Cup in the early 1950’s.

Until 1959, The Cock & Bell Public House was used as headquarters and changing rooms for the club, with all players having to walk down the village street for the games at Stoneylands!

In time, changing rooms were built at Stoneylands by voluntary labour and these remained for several decades, prior to the development of a new clubhouse which opened in August 2021. 

The new building provides an attractive, efficient, practical new base for the Football Club, a thriving Colts and Fillies Football Club and a community hub. The intention is to attract a range of sports and recreational activities to Stoneylands, thereby securing its future. 

In recent times, Melford, despite being a village club with very limited resources, has progressed to step five of the football pyramid and now play in the Premier Division of the Thurlow Nunn League. This is the highest level the club has played in its long history. The Villagers won the League Challenge Cup following a 1-0 win against Fakenham Town in the Final played at Diss Town in 2019. 

Stand by for the next chapter…

Long Melford Cricket Club

Long Melford and District C.C. was founded in 1855 and reformed in 1954.

Unlike Long Melford Football Club, the Cricket Club has had to overcome significant odds to find a permanent home. In 1953, a group of individuals, who were later to form Long Melford CC, played a few games on one of the fields at Rodbridge Corner, near the A134, the Foxearth Road and the picnic park. The following year, the Club reformed, playing on the field just off Bull Lane and the now disused road which leads to Cuckoo Tye.

For the next ten years Stoneylands, the home of Long Melford Football Club, was the playing base of the Club. In 1966, the Club moved to yet another new ground at Rectory Meadow, adjoining the eastern fringe of Long Melford churchyard. This only lasted until 1969 when it became homeless once more and all matches had to be played away. From 1970 until 1972, Sudbury Grammar School in Acton Lane provided a temporary playing base. Finally in 1972, after 18 years without a permanent ground, the Club moved to its present headquarters at Meetingfield. The opening celebrations included a cricket match, Long Melford CC v Guest XI. Famous England and MCC cricketer, Bill Edrich, starred in the guest XI, with Michael Hunt (Anglia TV weather presenter) umpiring.

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