Steve Boyle July 2022 1

No time to waste at Ipswich Wanderers

IPSWICH Wanderers' Chair Steve Boyle is a man on a mission.

STEVE Boyle is a man on a mission.

The Chair of Ipswich Wanderers FC has his sights set on back-to-back promotions, after the club’s return to the Thurlow Nunn League Premier Division.

Under joint managers James Buckle and Mark Goldfinch, who took over during the 2017-18 season but could not prevent the club being relegated, Wanderers start the new season once again as a Step 5 club.

After being denied the chance of promotion during the previous two Covid-hit seasons, Boyle invested heavily in the squad to try to win promotion last season.

Following a restructure at Step 6 level, the club asked to be switched from Division One North to South because of the extra mileage they would have incurred across the course of the season.

Boyle said of the financial investment: “It was a massive gamble. You could not afford to try doing that for four or five years – you are better off just going for it.

“The Step 6 set up doesn’t work well for Suffolk clubs because of how the leagues are structured.

“There were nine teams from Suffolk in Division One North and when we switched to Division One South, we were one of only four Suffolk teams.

“It is therefore very difficult to market those games and you are also travelling further than when it was just one division, so it is not financially viable. Teams playing at Step 6 level are travelling more miles in some cases than those at Step 4!

Ipswich Wanderers celebrate promotion April 2022

Ipswich Wanderers prepare to celebrate winning the Thurlow Nunn League Division One South title after being presented with the trophy by league chair Peter Hutchings (front right) at Humber Doucy Lane. Photograph: Paul Voller. Main photograph: Ipswich Wanderers' Chair Steve Boyle

“Could we have kept our squad together at Step 6 for another season? Possibly. But we knew if we finished second behind Buckhurst Hill – and I said that whoever finishes second will lose in the play-offs – that it would be really hard to bounce back, so that’s why we went for it.

“But with 16 seconds to go in our last home game of the season against Barkingside I still didn’t know if it was promotion or bust, so forgive me when I started celebrating on the pitch after we scored because I didn’t fancy going to Harwich & Parkeston on the last day of the season needing to win. It is a hard place to get a result as it is, but more so with less than 48 hours’ recovery time.

“We always seemed to find a way to win games last season, which is a great quality to have, even when we weren’t at our best.”

After George Mrozek’s injury-time winner secured the league in a dramatic title race with Buckhurst Hill, Wanderers had the chance of completing the double when they faced Leiston Reserves in the CNet Training Suffolk Senior Cup Final.

“It was a no-win situation because everyone expected us to win, but we had a period of nearly four weeks between our last league game and the cup final.

“I wouldn’t say it was difficult to get ourselves up for it, but it was a case of asking boys who were exhausted to put one last effort in,” said Boyle.

Wanderers won the final, played at Colchester United FC, 1-0 thanks to Matt Blake’s first-half goal to secure the double.

The club subsequently had their promotion to the Premier Division of the Thurlow Nunn League confirmed, with the season starting with an away match at Newmarket Town on Saturday.

Boyle is rightly proud that the club have not lost an away match this decade and have suffered just one defeat while winning 44 of their last 50 league games.

He said: “Having fought so hard to get back to this level you almost want to relax and enjoy it, but that is not in our mentality. What has got us to this point is being a team of winners.

“A lot of those lads are at the back end of their careers and we have not got time to waste. We are very realistic in that we know it is going to be harder and we are not going to steamroller teams every week, but the ambition of the club is to win promotion this season.

“My job as chairman is to ensure that as a club we are progressing both in the short term and long term and we are looking at how we can improve our facilities and have a place for the community to enjoy.

“When I took over I quickly identified two things the club needed to do – win promotion to Step 5 as soon as possible and to re-design the clubhouse.”

The two Covid interrupted seasons have prevented the club from achieving those twin ambitions until the last few months.

Work on upgrading the clubhouse has been taking place over the summer and this will include new toilets, a boardroom and much larger bar area and function room.

Steve Boyle July 2022 2

Steve Boyle pictured standing in front of the new club branding adorning the perimeter fence at the Rushmere end of the ground at Humber Doucy Lane. 

Boyle, who has a good knowledge of the hospitality industry, said a new PA system will be installed, with music and mascots adding to the match-day experience.

Wanderers averaged around 60 spectators at home games when Boyle became chair three years ago, but that number swelled to around 150 last season.

Spectators will also notice improvements around the ground, with club branding adorning the perimeter fence at the Rushmere end and the Kesgrave end also being spruced up.

The club have gained more than 1,500 extra Twitter followers in the past year and print a programme to be proud of which is produced by Chenery Creative, who also put together the impressive commemorative brochure* reviewing their double-winning season.

Boyle feels the club have more momentum than any other Suffolk club heading into the new season – now the time has come for the team to show it on the pitch.


*Copies of the commemorative brochure are available from the club, priced £6.95.


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