At last! Linnets finally get to celebrate a famous title triumph
PUBLISHED: 22:21 23 July 2020 | UPDATED: 15:10 24 July 2020
Ian Burt Photography
King’s Lynn Town players gathered at The Walks to receive their rewards for their successful National League North campaign – Chris Lakey was there to witness a special celebration
It was a season, for so many reasons, that King’s Lynn Town will never forget – and finally they have proof that it will forever be remembered as one of the best in the club’s history.
Whether it was before the phoenix-like rise from the ashes of a decade ago or before, in the days when the late, great Mick Wright ruled The Walks.
Now, in this very different world, King’s Lynn Town have their hands on the National League North championship trophy, after a season which saw them start off as underdogs, finish second in the table before, 96 days after their final game, they were declared champions... despite finishing second.
Not a ball has been kicked on anger at The Walks since Lynn played Guiseley on March 14: two days later, football was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Life has never been the same since.
Instead of lifting the trophy in front of thousands of their own fans, the Linnets had to be content with a behind closed doors affair in front of some National League dignitaries and a few members of the media.
After some individual awards were handed out it was time for the big one – and Lynn’s triumphant players didn’t disappoint: as skipper Michael Clunan lifted the championship trophy, the champagne corks popped and the party began.
It may not have had the spontaneous burst of joy that the final whistle of the final game of the season often has in these circumstances – but the players and management celebrated what was an enormous success story.
“It has been a long time coming, but it makes it more real now,” said Culverhouse. “After the judgment came through that we made it, this just puts a cherry on the top and we can’t wait until the fixtures come out, and that will make it more surreal.
“We are missing a couple who couldn’t make it and it is great to get together. It is the first time I have seen them since the last game and they thoroughly deserve all the plaudits they have got. They were outstanding last year.
“It has been a long wait. Steve (Cleeve) the chairman was very active on it and I am glad for him as well because he put a lot of time and effort into it so I am really pleased for him that it has come out the right way.
“It was an unbelievable season, we couldn’t have asked for any more. To go toe-to-toe like we did in that league - it is a very hard league and you are only as good as the players you have got and we have got a really special group here. It has a close bond - we have kept the core group again and we will add a little bit of quality around it and then we will go again, that is for sure.”
It mattered little that season 2019-20 will forever be defined by two league tables. One shows Lynn finishing two points behind York City but with two games in hand. The other shows the Linnets on top, with a points per game calculation used to see out the season.
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions. There were few real complaints: Lynn were, in many people’s judgment, the best team in the league. Notwithstanding the fact they were newcomers and expected to struggle against bigger clubs.
But the naysayers reckoned without Culverhouse and his assistant Paul Bastock.
They reckoned without Lynn’s fan base, which doubled in size for matches at The Walks - the York game saw more than 4,000 in the ground.
They reckoned without an owner who put his money where his mouth was – and who has continued to do that as the prospect of playing on the National League approaches.
And they reckoned without the incredible striker that is Adam Marriott – scorer of a league goal every 100 minutes, as near as dammit. They reckoned without unsung heroes: Ross Barrows, playing out of position at times but proving square pegs can fit into round holes; the experienced heads of Ryan Jarvis and Michael Gash, whose legs rarely gave up on them and whose footballing heads never did.
But not once did Culverhouse every publicly single out one player for praise - nor criticism. The collective effort was borne of a team spirit and unity second to none.
“They won’t let this town down,” added Culverhouse. “And I am so pleased for the supporters and the town as well.
What comes next is unknown territory for the Linnets: it’s the highest level they have played in the modern era – their Midland League days of the 1950s was a step below the old Third Division North/South.
It will mean Culverhouse and Cleeve have to plot again – although few will bet against them given the success of the last two seasons.