‘They go through the pain barrier because they want to play for the football club’ - Culverhouse
PUBLISHED: 16:38 31 December 2019 | UPDATED: 16:47 31 December 2019
Ian Culverhouse is reaping the benefits of keeping together the nucleus of his most successful teams at King’s Lynn Town.
Ian Culverhouse is reaping the benefits of keeping together the nucleus of his most successful teams at King's Lynn Town.
When the Linnets head to Boston United on New Year's Day, the meat in the sandwich that is a heavy holiday fixture list, he will have at least half a dozen players who have been with him through thick and thin at The Walks.
Of the team that started against Boston United on Boxing Day, only two - Nathan Fox and Sam Kelly - were summer arrivals. The rest were all involved in the promotion campaign of last season.
Managers often promise to reward the players who earned them success, but so often they casually cast them aside when things don't work out. For Culverhouse, it hasn't been a problem as Lynn continue to enjoy life at the top end of a table rather than the lower reaches.
Fox came in for Frazer Blake-Tracey, who was sold to Peterborough United, while Kelly was too good a player to be snapped up by anyone else for nothing. Culverhouse did also bring in Chris Smith, Alfie Payne, Sonny Carey and then, when he was running out of centre-halves, Tom Ward - but Payne and Carey were, arguably, seen to be in the development stage and not regular starters.
The 'old heads' have risen to the challenge, and some - Michael Gash and Adam Marriott, Ryan Jarvis, Chris Henderson and Michael Clunan, Rory McAuley and Alex Street - are the core from front to back, supplemented by the exciting brilliance of players like Jordan Richards, Ross Barrows and Aaron Jones.
Injuries have caused Culverhouse a few headaches, but while today may be too soon, he hopes centre-halves Smith and Ryan Fryatt will be back shortly. The timing could be vital: Clunan is out with a fractured fibula and, after the New Year's Day trip to Boston United, Culverhouse will also be without the influential Jarvis for three games after his Boxing Day red card against the Pilgrims.
Striker Natty Stewart is back from a month's loan at Leiston and Ryan Hawkins recovered quickly from a knock against Dover in the FA Trophy - but the evidence of the fragility of the squad was there to see on Boxing Day, with match-winner Michael Gash carrying some heavy strapping on his right knee.
"Gashy's leg was all bandaged up, but they go through the pain barrier because they want to play for the football club, which is commendable really," said Culverhouse.
Proof came at Alfreton when Gash scored the goal which earned Lynn a point - two days after getting the winner against Boston.