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This season has easily been their most successful yet, by winning the Suffolk Girls and Women's League Cup and completing an undefeated league season to crown themselves as Champions as well.
What makes this achievement even more remarkable is that before the season even began, there was the real possibility of the ladies team moving to another club. Discontent between various club officials led to a testing pre-season, as the club lost its Chairman, welfare officer, secretary and a handful of youth teams too. However, once all the fallout was settled, the club was left with a more dedicated and hard working core group of people to lead the teams left than ever before.
The ladies team have always been managed by David George and Darren Hogg, both of whose daughters used to play for the team but now continue to do the role because of their dedication and loyalty to the team. They also took on the Under-16 girls team this year when their coach left only a week before their first game, and this team also went on to win their league championship this year. Both are joined by coach, Dale Vince, who has brought great professionalism and high standards to the team's training sessions and match tactics.
The team is captained by Georgina Longden, who has been in this role for the past four seasons, having been with the team from day one. There are a core of players who have played in every season so far with the club and who have been integral to their development, turning up even in the early days of struggling to get eleven players on the pitch. These include Georgina Longden, Alice Longden, Jess Quinsee, Pippa King, Holly Prior and Emily Lambert.
This season has also seen two players come through the ranks of the club and become integral first team players at the age of just 16. Charlotte McGrath and Annie Northwood have played for the past seven years for East Bergholt through the various youth teams, and continued their fantastic dedication and progress by moving into ladies football this season. Charlotte was voted Players' Player of the year by the end of the season, and Annie ended the year as by far their highest goalscorer, scoring 24 goals in the league and many more in the cup run. Other high scorers on the team included Jess Clark with 13 goals, and Millie Wilding, who only joined in October, with 11.
"The season started with a comprehensive run of eight wins in a row, including a key 3-2 win against local rivals Brantham, and a 10-0 demolishing of Leiston St Margarets," Georgina Longden told Women's Soccer Scene. "Then came a run of difficult fixtures against the other key rivals for the title, and the team drew four games in a row to bring other teams back into the race and make things harder for ourselves. This was despite already beating two of our biggest rivals in the cup run, including a tight 1-0 win at Walsham Le Willows and a 4-0 victory against Bacton in the semi final.
"But the team soon got back to winning ways in the league and won their last four games with the pressure on, most notably winning 4-1 at Leiston but being staunchly held out at 1-1 until the 80th minute onwards.
"When it came to our final two games, we knew we had it all in our hands and were more determined than ever to make sure we did not slip at the final hurdles. The League Cup Final saw us playing Kesgrave Ladies, who we had beaten twice in the league, but it they who took a shock lead after only five minutes on the night. This stirred the team into action and within a few minutes we had equalised, and then never looked back, going on to score six more in a 7-1 win, including a Cara Savage hat-trick. This completed our first ever trophy success.
"The following week we knew a win or draw would secure us the title too, but were adamant we wanted the victory to claim it in style and this we did with a 3-1 win over Walsham Le Willows, who had been our main title rivals up until the final couple of games. A big crowd from the village came to watch our final game and it was a great family atmosphere of celebration once we got the job done.
"The biggest thank yous go to Dave George, Darren Hogg and Dale Vince, who really took all the work of the entire club on this year whilst still maintaining a positive, friendly and encouraging team atmosphere throughout. The key to the team's development has always been the close knit nature of the group and the positivity that we all bring, which really can set us apart from other teams we have played."
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