Greens’ boss hails a champion effort

Gorleston manager Richard Daniels on Sunday was not only celebrating the Greens clinching the Ridgeons First Division championship, but also his 43rd birthday, writes John Cushion.

The silverware was secured as Gorleston drew 1-1 at home to Safron Walden on Saturday, the goal coming from Ali McKenna, his 11th in 14 games since he was signed.

“It has been a long, hard season. We have finally done it. The last few points to get you over the line are the hardest to get.

“With the number of games to play, and players carrying injuries, it has been very hard.

“But with the performances of the players, and the work in the club, we deserve it,” said Daniels.

Only the players get paid, he said. “Jimmy Jones (the club president), the committee and everyone else put in the effort solely for the love of the club.

“It has been a team effort, I am proud of the whole club, and everyone who has pulled on the shirt has done the club proud.”

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He added ruefully: “My hard work starts now, I have got to start planning for next season.

“Yarmouth went up last season, we have now joined them and Diss have come up as well. We want all the Norfolk clubs up there in the Premier Division.”

He expected Thetford, on current form, to make a serious bid for the Premier Division next season, and felt Wayne Anderson’s young Fakenham side could also make a challenge.

The daughter of legendary former Greens’ manager Sailor Brown passed on her congratulations to the club.

Julie Munroe has been following the team’s progress on the club website and was delighted they had been crowned champions.

Gorleston will host the annual Sailor Brown Memorial Cup on Saturday, July 23.

Gorleston 1, Saffron Walden Town 1

A DELAYED kick off did nothing to help the nerves as Gorleston knew they had to avoid defeat to be crowned champions, writes David Hardy.

On the plus side, the result from Whitton would be known before this game ended, but in the end their score proved immaterial.

Understandably Gorleston began nervously and Walden, who were looking to test their own promotion credentials ahead of next season, took the lead in the sixth minute.

The Greens failed to clear the ball and it fell nicely for Graeme Turner to float into the top corner.

Gorleston could have equalised seven minutes later when Steve Taylor threaded a ball through to Chris Sandford but the shot was well saved by Ronnie Yates.

Gorleston were unfortunate not to equalise in the 28th minute when Sandford’s free-kick seemed to take a slight deflection and smacked against an upright.

Spike Bell and Brad Green saw their efforts go over Pride’s goal before a good take by Bradley Hough on the right touchline enabled Sandford to slide a pass through for Ali McKenna, but he shot tamely at the keeper.

Just before half-time Mitchell Das found himself with the freedom of Emerald Park as he bore down on goal, but his attempted lob went over Elliot Pride and the goal.

An early second-half chance for Joe Murphy forced Pride into a save and then Reece Hunn weaved his way into the box and produced a save from Yates. McKenna, following up, was flagged offside, although his effort was deflected out for a corner anyway.

Mitch Forbes replaced Hough in the 63rd minute and almost immediately Gorleston equalised. The ball found its way into the box where McKenna pounced to head it into the net.

Gorleston were looking to see the game out and thoughts of what was happening at Whitton evaporated.

After what seemed an age the final whistle blew and the champagne started to flow. It was good to see long-term supporters enjoying the moment, including Billy Poole, who was injured in a car crash earlier this season, and club stalwart Fred Smith.

Eddie Thompson was presented with the league trophy and the celebrations began.

Team: Elliot Pride, DJ Kareche (Thomas Daniels 80), Reece Hunn, Richard Woodrow, Adam Thurtle, Eddie Thompson, Chris Sandford, Darren Cockrill (Aaron Huggins-Bowers 89), Ali McKenna, Steve Taylor, Bradley Hough (Mitch Forbes 63).