King’s Lynn Town chief slams new league structure

PUBLISHED: 08:10 25 May 2018 | UPDATED: 08:15 25 May 2018

King's Lynn chairman Stephen Cleeve is thinking big. Picture: Ian Burt

King's Lynn chairman Stephen Cleeve is thinking big. Picture: Ian Burt

Archant 2018

King’s Lynn Town fell at the final hurdle in their quest for promotion last season. Paddy Davitt spoke to new boss Simon Clark and the man who appointed him, Stephen Cleeve, at the start of a new era for the club.

Simon Clark and Stephen Cleeve are already singing from the same hymn sheet at King’s Lynn Town. Nothing less than promotion will do next season.

Ian Culverhouse’s tenure ended on a sour note at The Walks with a heart-breaking Southern League, Premier Division play-off final loss, after the ex-Norwich City stalwart had made it clear he planned to jump ship.

Clark and his assistant Sam Gaughran are the duo Cleeve wants to lead the club to the National League set-up, and the former Notts County coach is bang up for the challenge.

“I can’t wait. It is a really good football club with a good set of lads.

Simon Clark has a big job ahead at The Walks. Picture: Ian BurtSimon Clark has a big job ahead at The Walks. Picture: Ian Burt

“Now it is about getting this thing going,” said the assured Clark, at the pair’s official unveiling. “I came to those play-off games and you look at the potential of this place, you look at the desire and the passion of the fans, you look at the set of players who are here.

“Having spoken to the chairman, it is all about the ambition.

“The football club is ready to go and that is important. It is the most important thing for.

“I have said this is my biggest challenge in the game and I believe that. Purely because of the stature of the club, the size of the job and I am really honoured and grateful. The importance I put on the job is huge and I will always put myself under pressure.

“I did that as a footballer and I will be no different as a manager or a coach, whether that was in the Championship or non league football. It is a fantastic opportunity.”

Long-serving defender Ryan Fryatt signed a new two year deal within minutes of Clark’s unveiling on Wednesday, and the new manager is already in talks with potential targets to meet the expectancy of a fan base who want to go one better next season.

“It is about the players buying into me and my methods. They will do stuff here they haven’t before,” he said.

“It is about creating the environment. That can be a 32 year old, who stills wants to have a go. That can be a 17 year old, that has massive ambitions or a 24 year old who has dropped down and is desperate to get back in.

Ryan Fryatt has signed a new deal at King's Lynn Town FC. Picture: Ian BurtRyan Fryatt has signed a new deal at King's Lynn Town FC. Picture: Ian Burt

“They all need two vital attributes. The desire to be better and they have to be coachable.

“This group is set up to have a right go next year. The play-offs would be fantastic, automatic promotion, even better.”

Lynn will be pre-season favourites to lift the newly-formed Southern League Central Division title and Cleeve wants to avoid the play-off lottery after a painful defeat to Slough Town in front of nearly 3,000 fans at The Walks.

“We need to win the league. That is it. There are no prizes for finishing second,” said the Linnets’ figurehead. “With this new structure, which I am opposed to at our level, you not only have to win play-off games in your league but then another play-off game.

Simon Clark and (pictured right) Sam Gaughran are King's Lynn Town's new management duo. Picture: Ian BurtSimon Clark and (pictured right) Sam Gaughran are King's Lynn Town's new management duo. Picture: Ian Burt

“No-one can explain it to me yet and I find that extraordinary when we are only a few weeks from the season.

“I personally don’t like that. I am ambitious and want this club to progress.

“If I was the chairman of a club with 100 fans every week then my ambition is probably to just stay in the league and less travelling from that side makes sense.

“We just have to go with it, win the league and to do that you have to be consistent.

“That is why Hereford won our league. They were capable of scoring goals in the 92nd, 93rd, 94th minutes of games.

“That is because they were fit and kept on going and they deserved it. I feel we have found the right man to do that.”

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