Quadruple-winning Lakenheath ready to make the step up with Mildenhall
After a trophy-laden season that saw them clinch four different titles, Lakenheath Under-12s are now looking to the future as part of Mildenhall Town’s new academy.
The youngsters — managed by Paul Stannard — swept aside all that was put before them last season, winning the Norfolk League, the Norfolk League Cup and the Challenge Cup.
That triple success took them into Sunday’s Suffolk FA Under-12 Boys’ Cup Final against Cornard Dynamos hunting a fourth accolade.
Extra-time was required to get the job done, but Lakenheath eventually ran out 6-3 winners to round off a successful few months.
“They are a really good set of lads and deserve everything they have achieved,” said Stannard, who has been in charge of the team for six years.
“We have had the odd bad apple down the years but they have gone now and all of the lads get on really well.
“We have done the treble before, but never won four competitions in one year — it is a fantastic achievement and one to be proud of.
“I thought we would do well this season, but could not have expected four trophies.
“We did not put any pressure on the team and set them the target of winning the league and reaching the quarter-finals of the cups. But it has turned out to be such a special season.”
However, the victory over Cornard marked an end of the team’s association with Lakenheath.
From next season, the players will represent Mildenhall at Under-13 level, coming under the umbrella of the Isthmian League club’s recently-launched academy.
Essentially, it is Stannard’s belief that his side has outgrown their current environment, with victories often being recorded by a double-figure margin.
The move to Mildenhall is likely to see the players feature in the Eastern Junior Alliance League or the Junior Premier Division — something the boss is adamant can only lead to improvements.
“The boys deserve to be playing at a higher level,” added Stannard.
“It is phenomenal to say, but we have not lost a cup game since I took over.
“We have to set them challenges and play friendlies with Cambridge United, Norwich City and Peterborough United to keep things competitive.
“We could have stayed where we were and probably won more trophies, but it is time to step up and challenge the lads.”
Stannard will continue to oversee proceedings on a match day, but a lot of the training will be done by the academy’s leader Jimmy Unwin.
The UEFA A licence holder spent part of last season working alongside the quadruple winners, impressing Braybrooke in the process.
“It feels natural to hand over some of the work to Jimmy because he is so good at what he does,” said Stannard.
“I have never seen anyone better at coaching young footballers than Jimmy. He has a real talent for it.
“I will still be around for matches, but it is the right time for Jimmy and Mildenhall to move things forward.”
n Lakenheath’s 2016/17 squad: Freddie Allen, Jordan Atkin, Corey Braybrooke, Louie Bull, Charlie Donoghue, Ethan Hills, Joshua Taylor, Kaylum Timberlake, Harvey Wilson, Luis Cowie, Levi Fletcher, Thomas McEvoy, Reece Stannard