King’s Lynn Town prepare for another step into the brave new world
Ian Burt Photography
It’s a big day for King’s Lynn Town as the National League fixtures are revealed – Chris Lakey looks at the journey to come
Suddenly, it all becomes very real for King’s Lynn Town.
The euphoria of successive promotions, in very different circumstances, is still in the air.
But now Lynn are edging ever closer to their step into the unknown: playing National League football for the very first time.
On Tuedsday, at 1pm, the fixtures for the 2020-2021 season will be announced – and the planning takes on an added dimension.
The fixture list will take them to some of the oldest names in the country, to clubs which have played in the Football League, but have fallen from grace, whose hard times are the Linnets’ golden era.
Beginning on October 3, there are 23 rivals to face home and away - many of them full-time. Some are phoenix clubs, risen from the ashes of financial commitments that proved impossible to meet. But their core remains the same.
A dozen rivals - Aldershot, Barnet, Chesterfield, Dagenham & Redbridge, Halifax, Hartlepool, Macclesfield, Notts County, Stockport, Torquay, Wrexham and Yeovil - have experience in the Football League. Notts County are the oldest professional football club in the world.
The Linnets have been around in their current guise for around a decade, but as a club they’ve been playing at The Walks since formation in 1881.
King’s Lynn Town has two histories - and an awful lot of pride.
The dark days, when the gates were padlocked and football came to a halt, has made recent success under Ian Culverhouse even more enjoyable. Crowds doubled last season as Lynn continued the manager’s philosophy of passing football, of entertaining football. And of winning football.
Promotion number one came on a sunny day at Warrington when the Linnets won a super play-off final. This season it was completed in a boardroom, when various suits decided that a season that was halted by the coronavirus pandemic should be decided by a points per game formula. Lynn came out on top, and a place in the National League was theirs.
The fact that the pandemic still hangs over our heads means they will step out for their first game in strange circumstances: if there are fans they are likely to be home fans only - the government is currently working on a solution that will help club owners get some much-needed income through the turnstiles, and appease fans who, curiously, can go and watch football at a lower level when the perimeter fence is perhaps just a piece of rope separating paying customers from the field of play. Such are the quirks of the strange world we live in.
The lack of home backing was given as a reason, or an excuse, however you want to view it, for the way Norwich City completely failed to handle Project Restart, managing to lose all their games and failing to avoid relegation to the Championship.
It was said that smaller clubs need their backing more. Would Lynn consider themselves a ‘smaller’ club? It’s hardly bothered them much of late, particularly last season when they were given little chance of success. However, they do have a noisy supporter base, one that travels well, and one that players enjoy. Take it away and an unknown factor comes in.
It’s just another hurdle to overcome, and Culverhouse knows there will be plenty. But he has had good financial backing from the club’s owner, Stephen Cleeve, who has facilitated his requests for new signings. It means Lynn now have just about two players for every position – and with a number of them capable of playing in unfamiliar roles.
The manager is currently without his first-choice strikers, Adam Marriott (injured) and Michael Gash (ill) but at the weekend saw Dayle Southwell come good with a hat-trick in a friendly at Royston. It’s that sort of quality in depth which comes about by good planning, not luck.
Still to add to his mix are a pair of youngsters on loan from Norwich for the season – Simon Power, who has been nursing a slight injury, and goalkeeper Archie Mair, who has been on City and then Scotland Under-21 international duty, which speaks volumes for the quality of player King’s Lynn Town can attract and be entrusted with. City’s loans manager Neil Adams, who looks after the club’s and the players’ interests, is a regular at The Walks - he clearly likes what he sees.
The odds are stacked against Lynn this season - but they usually are.
Soon they will know where another journey into the great unknown begins.
For you up-to-date fixture news see www.edp24.co.uk/sport and Wednesday’s EDP for your fixtures poster.