A.F.C. Sudbury is a semi-professional association football club based in Sudbury, Suffolk, England. The club was formed in 1999 by the merger of Sudbury Town and Sudbury Wanderers, the process giving rise to the name Amalgamated Football Club Sudbury. A.F.C. Sudbury won the Eastern Counties League Premier Division five seasons in a row and reached the final of the FA Vase three years in a row, both records for the respective competitions. Their home ground is the King's Marsh Stadium in the Ballingdon-Brundon area of Sudbury, and their home colours are yellow and blue. The club currently play in the Premier Division of the Isthmian League as of the 2016-17 season.
A.F.C. Sudbury was formed on 1 June 1999 by the amalgamation of the town's two previous clubs, Sudbury Town (founded 1885) and Sudbury Wanderers (founded 1958).
In their debut season, 1999–2000, Sudbury finished in third place in the Eastern Counties League Premier Division. The following five seasons all resulted in Sudbury winning the Premier Division title – a league record. Sudbury did not take promotion at any of these opportunities, despite being entitled to. In this period Sudbury had a series of good performances in national cup competitions. In 2000–01 the club reached the first round of the FA Cup, where they were beaten 6–1 by Darlington. They reached the semi-final of the 2001–02 FA Vase, before being knocked out by Tiptree United. The following three seasons saw Sudbury reaching the final each year (a Vase record), but being defeated every time, by Brigg Town in 2003, Winchester City in 2004 and Didcot Town in 2005. However, the club did win the Suffolk Premier Cup three times, in 2001–02, 2002–03 and 2003–04.
The financial constraints of owning two grounds led the board not to apply for promotion until the beginning of the 2005–06 season. After finishing third in 2005–06, a season in which they won the Eastern Counties League Cup, and passing the necessary ground inspection Sudbury were invited to take promotion into a resurrected Isthmian League Division One North, following the re-structuring of the National League System. Potential legal action from the Northern Premier League nearly scuppered this move, but Sudbury started 2006–07 in the new division. The management team of Gary Harvey and Michael Cheetham, who took the team up, both resigned before the season could begin, citing work and family commitments, respectively. New manager Mark Morsley was appointed in May 2006, signed from Needham Market. Sudbury's first season at this level saw the club finish in fifth place, qualifying them for the promotion play-offs. After beating Enfield Town in the semi-final, Sudbury lost to Harlow Town in a penalty shoot-out. Sudbury again qualified for the play-offs in 2007–08, finishing second in the table, but were defeated in the semi-final by eventual winners Canvey Island. In the close-season manager Morsley resigned, and was replaced by his assistant Nicky Smith.
Sudbury were moved into the Southern League Division One Midlands for 2008–09 following a restructuring of the English football pyramid. After two seasons of mid-table finishes the club was moved back to the Isthmian League Division One North for 2010–11. Smith resigned in September 2011 and was replaced by his assistant Chris Tracey. At the start of the 2013–14, Sudbury appointed Wroxham manager David Batch as their new manager, after Chris Tracey left the club. Sudbury reached the final of the Isthmian League Cup in April 2014, but lost 3–0 away to Maidstone United. Batch left to join St Neots Town at the end of 2014, and was replaced by Jamie Godbold. Godbold led the club to a third-place finish and qualification for the play-offs, where they were defeated by Brentwood Town in the semi-final. The following season Sudbury won the division with three games to spare, earning promotion to the Premier Division.
The A.F.C. Sudbury reserve team initially played in the Reserves section of the Eastern Counties League before joining Division One of the league at the start of the 2013–14 season, at which point it was renamed AFC Sudbury Reserves/Under-21s. In the team's second season in Division One they won the First Division Knock-Out Cup, after beating Great Yarmouth Town 1–0.
The A.F.C. Sudbury women's team took over Sudbury Wanderers' place in Division Two of the Eastern Region Women's Football League in 1999. However, they dropped out the league at the end of the 2001–02 season. They returned to the league in 2010, and were placed in Division One North. After being promoted from Division One North at the end of the 2014–15 season, they currently play in the Premier Division.
The club's academy team plays in the Eastern Counties Youth League, whilst it has two under-19 teams in the Football Conference Youth Alliance. In addition to an under-16 team, it has youth teams for every year group from age 7 to 13.
A.F.C. Sudbury's club colours are yellow and blue, the same as those of Sudbury Town. The club's second choice kit, usually when away from home, is all red with white trim, although in past seasons other colours have been used, such as all white in the 2007–08 season.
The club badge is the town crest of Sudbury, which incorporates a talbot dog with its tongue sticking out.
A.F.C. Sudbury play their home games at the King's Marsh Stadium in the Ballingdon-Brundon area of Sudbury, previously home to Sudbury Wanderers. Between June 2010 and August 2014, due to a sponsorship deal, the ground was officially titled The MEL Group Stadium. At the time of A.F.C. Sudbury's formation the ground consisted of two pitches, a training area, clubhouse, floodlights, a 200-seat stand on the West side of the main pitch and covered ends behind the goals. A 300-capacity terrace (the Shed) was constructed on the East side of the pitch in 2000 and houses the more vocal section of the crowd. A new clubhouse, also containing a grassroots football and education centre, was completed in 2010. The ground is fully enclosed by fencing and there are turnstiles at the main entrance.
A.F.C. Sudbury sold Sudbury Town's former ground, the Priory Stadium, to a housing developer in June 2007. The money from this sale was earmarked for paying off loans, and capital gains tax, as well as a new clubhouse and changing rooms. Planning permission for the construction of the new facilities was granted by Babergh District Council in August 2008, though various conditions regarding issues such as possible land contamination, the site's archaeological value, risk of flooding and drainage are required to be addressed before work may commence.
A 3G artificial turf pitch was installed prior to the 2015–16 season.Isthmian League
Division One North champions: 2015–16
Eastern Counties League
Premier Division Champions: 2000–01, 2001–02, 2002–03, 2003–04, 2004–05
League Cup winners: 2006
Suffolk Premier Cup
Winners: 2002, 2003, 2004
Best FA Cup performance: First round, 2000–01
Best FA Trophy performance: First round, 2006–07, 2008–09, 2010–11, 2014–15
Most appearances: Paul Betson, 376
Most goals: Gary Bennett, 172
Record attendance: 1,800