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Needham Market sign AFC Sudbury star Ben Hunter and released Ipswich Town goalkeeper Danny Cullum





Needham Market have revealed former AFC Sudbury fans’ favourite Ben Hunter and released Ipswich Town Academy goalkeeper Danny Cullum as the club’s first signings since their historic promotion to the Vanarama National League North.

Central midfielder Hunter, 24, left Sudbury early last month with the Yellows’ academy graduate having been a regular in their first team since the 2017/18 season, aside from one campaign testing himself at then higher-league Leiston in 2021/22, which included a loan spell with Stowmarket Town.

The grandson of Ipswich Town great Allan Hunter helped Rick Andrews’ side to promotion as play-off champions in the Pitching In Isthmian League North Division in 2022/23, having finished as runners-up. He then helped a Marc Abbott-led side defy the odds following budget cuts that saw all but four of the squad leave to secure a second consecutive season at Step 3 for the first time in the club’s history in the Pitching In Southern League Premier Central last term.

Neeham Market have revealed Ben Hunter (main) and Danny Cullum (inset) as their first two signings since promotion to Step 2 Pictures: NMFC
Neeham Market have revealed Ben Hunter (main) and Danny Cullum (inset) as their first two signings since promotion to Step 2 Pictures: NMFC

Hunter accumulated 100 senior appearances by the age of 20 in his first spell at Sudbury, before passng 200 appearances in January.

Needham Market’s assistant manager Tom Rothery told the club’s website: "Ben was our first target when the season finished. I watched him a few times last season and obviously we played against him twice also.

"We really like what he does, his work-rate and enthusiasm around the pitch is a great quality that we wanted to add and alongside this he has ability too.

AFC Sudbury promotion-winner midfielder Ben Hunter was revealed as Needham Market's first signing of the summer Picture: NMFC
AFC Sudbury promotion-winner midfielder Ben Hunter was revealed as Needham Market's first signing of the summer Picture: NMFC

“He knows a lot of the squad so we knew he would fit in well and already I like the leadership qualities that he is showing at training.

“We needed to thicken the squad up but not just numbers we need to add quality and competition which we believe we have down with all our new signings to date."

Also speaking to the club website, Hunter, who stood in as a vice captain at Sudbury last season, said: “I have heard what a good club it is from everyone around the local area.

“It’s also going to be good to test myself at a level that I haven’t played before.

Ben Hunter carried the captain’s armband for AFC Sudbury on a number of occasions last season Picture: Richard Marsham
Ben Hunter carried the captain’s armband for AFC Sudbury on a number of occasions last season Picture: Richard Marsham

"I am close friends with a couple of the lads here already so that’s always good when signing for a new club. I have also heard from them what a good club it is so have always heard positive things about Needham."

Goalkeeper Cullum joins having recently left Ipswich Town, where he had been since the age of eight and having started last season on loan at Bury Town ahead of going on to join their Step 4 divisional rivals Ipswich Wanderers from the turn of the year.

He was part of the Ipswich Town Under-16s side that won the Professional Development League (PDL) Cup at Coventry City in April 2022, as well as the Under-18s team that won the U18 PDL Cup at the same venue the following month, before winning the Premier section of the SuperCupNI in Northern Ireland, held in July the same year.

Former Ipswich Town Academy goalkeeper Danny Cullum is set to compete for a place at Needham Market with Marcus Garnham Picture: NMFC
Former Ipswich Town Academy goalkeeper Danny Cullum is set to compete for a place at Needham Market with Marcus Garnham Picture: NMFC

A statement on the club's website read: “Danny will provide excellent cover for Marcus Garnham when required.”

And Rothery said he is delighted to have him in the squad.

Danny Cullum makes a winning penalty save for Bury Town against Walthamstow in the FA Trophy last season Picture: Mecha Morton
Danny Cullum makes a winning penalty save for Bury Town against Walthamstow in the FA Trophy last season Picture: Mecha Morton

"Danny is an important signing for us and great for Marco to have someone of Danny’s quality to work with," he told the club’s website.

"Danny has good experience at Step 4 from last season and already in training has shown what he will add to us, and we need more depth to the squad now going up a level which will help create not only competition but also allow players to rest when required. Kev and I are really pleased to get Danny on board."

Cullum admitted he has shown a keen interest in the club’s fortunes having watched them a number of times when not playing himself in recent seasons.

"I’ve always admired the club, and especially last season I was always checking results on my phone after games and would always look at Needham’s first,” he told the club’s website.

“Like I say always being a spectator, I’ve seen the highs they have achieved over the last few seasons, promotions, FA Cup first round, FA Trophy quarter-final against Stockport, and I’m hoping within my time here we re-live some of those moments and advance to later round of competitions and standing strong in staying the NLN."

It comes as Needham have confirmed attacking midfielders or wingers Adam Mills and Jacob Lay have both remained with the squad to take the number of senior players staying to 12.

Needham Market squad 20024/25 (so far):

New signings: Hunter, Cullum (gk).

Retained: Garnham, Dye, Smith, K.Morphew (c), D.Morphew (vc), Hammond, Ingram, Brothers, McGrath, Williams, Lay, Mills.

Released: Cullum, Harris, Lawrence.