Chris Lakey: Why the grass can be just as green this side for Linnets
PUBLISHED: 08:51 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 08:51 24 May 2019
When Cameron Norman left King's Lynn Town last year many thought it would do irreparable harm to the team.
That's not an over-egged statement: the right back was fantastic at Southern Premier Central level and was quite rightly scouted by league clubs. He left behind a ridiculously long lists of assists and goals - more than any full back had the right to do.
Oxford United won the race to sign him after the formalities of the 2017-18 season were done - and Lynn were left with a massive hole to fill.
When Ian Culverhouse - who had benefited so much last season from Norman's immense presence - returned to The Walks in November, he was soon left with a midfielder filling in, Aaron Jones having picked up an injury. Jordan Richards moved to right back, which deprived Lynn of a midfielder who, when he finally returned to his rightful position, became one of Lynn's standout players in the second half of the season.
One player exits and the knock-on effect last ages.
On the opposite side of the field to Norman last season was Frazer Blake-Tracy, a different type of full-back but hugely effective in his own right. This week he signed a deal with League One Peterborough United, following Norman, and Cameron King - who went to FC Halifax Town last summer - into the full-time game.
In a season which produced so many superlatives, it was hard to pick a best player. But wherever Lynn played Blake-Tracy left behind lots of admirers. Many opposition supporters remarked on his skills: at Warrington earlier this month, his name was on every home fan's lips - he was the man who ended their super final dreams.
Blake-Tracy was no secret and I suspect if you asked Ian Culverhouse if he had pencilled him in for next season's opening game he might just have admitted he did so - but with caution. Culverhouse knows quality when he sees it and there's no doubt he knew Blake-Tracy could well be on his way. The Lynn manager has a little trick which gives it away: when he refers to a player he really likes he says, "he's a footballer"... the emphasis on the first word. He hasn't been wrong.
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Replacing him won't be easy - quality left-footed players are not exactly two a penny. But, just as Norman's departure and the sticking plaster job that followed proves, it can be done.
There are benefits to this: Lynn will pocket a sizeable amount of cash: Posh started low with their offer, I can tell you that, Lynn set their sights higher and no doubt they met in between. Blake-Tracy gets his chance at the top level. And Culverhouse might just be able to persuade the owner, Stephen Cleeve, to part with some cash as he seeks to rebuild for the National League North challenge.
I can't see a back-up left back in his squad so he will have to sign a new one - but Lynn have had a knack of bringing in some top drawer players. Witness Adam Marriott - brought in by the interim managers Robbie Back and Neil Fryatt. A game or two ago, standing in Culverhouse's little office at The Walks doing post-match interviews, he spoke of Marriott's quality. ("He's a footballer" came out). Back was in the room, standing behind us media types. "He quality," said Culverhouse and, with a smile. "Can't think who brought him in..."
This is relevant in that Back is director of football at The Walks. Part of his job will entail bringing in new players. He and Fryatt also signed Chris Henderson from Leiston so he has set a high standard, but one that must be kept to.
Lynn have cleared out some players who won't figure next season and will be looking to bring some in - Culverhouse and Back have huge responsibilities but they have proven track records.
The departure of Blake-Tracy is simply evolutionary. It will be 'mourned' in the way that football fans do - then it will be forgotten and the player's brilliance appreciated.
I have a vested interest: I am a Posh fan. My influence doesn't extend to who they sign and it doesn't extend as far as their chairman, Darragh MacAnthony who, when he read my exclusive story on a Twitter link which revealed the move two days before it was confirmed, simply wrote, 'who'?
Now you know, Darragh.