New To The Division: Needham Market

We round-off our summer study of the new clubs joining us in National League North for 2024/25 by taking the longest journey of the season to Suffolk.

How did they get here?
Needham Market celebrated a glorious promotion last term as they won the Southern League Premier Central title to make it to the sixth tier for the first time in the club’s history.

The Suffolk outfit clinched their elevation on the first weekend of April when a Jamie McGrath’s hat-trick led them to a 3-1 win over Royston Town and gave them an unassailable lead at the top of the table.

Known as The Marketmen, their promotion was labelled as a major shock in non-league football as they held off fancied AFC Telford United to win the league by three points in the end.

Certainly, there were few predicting the huge success that would follow when Needham Market were thumped 6-1 at Stratford Town on the opening day of the campaign.

However, that proved to be one of just seven defeats they would suffer all season as they won some 26 of their 40 league games to pull off the greatest feat in the club’s 105 years.

Where do they play?
Needham Market have played their home games at Bloomfield since 1996 when its construction was funded by money left by former player Arthur Rodwell and a grant from the National Lottery.

In 2018, The Marketmen invested in the laying of a 3G pitch at the stadium, whilst they also showed their ambition with the erection of a new stand and changing rooms.

The stadium has a capacity of 4,000.

Who is in charge?
Former Northern Ireland international midfielder Kevin Horlock has been the man in charge at Needham Market since landing the role back in 2019.

The 51-year-old turned to coaching at the end of an illustrious playing career which saw him play in the Premier League and earn 32 caps for his country.

A former West Ham United youngster, Horlock went on to make his name during a five-year spell at Swindon Town which paved the way for a move to Manchester City in 1997.

Horlock was a mainstay in the City side as they plotted a route back to the top flight and he played in three different divisions for the club as they returned to the Premier League.

A return to West Ham and spells in the colours of Ipswich Town, Doncaster Rovers and Scunthorpe United followed before he arrived at Needham Market as Player/Assistant Manager in 2008.

He went on to set-up the club’s Academy in 2010 and in 2015 was appointed as boss of Chatham Town before also taking on coaching duties with Northern Ireland’s Under-21s.

Coaching roles at Maldon & Tiptree and Colchester United followed but he returned to Neeham Market in February 2019 to become their Academy Manager before stepping up to take the top job the following summer.

When did we last meet?
Moors and Needham Market have never previously met in competitive action so they will play each other for the first time during 2024/25.

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