Graham has high hopes for Linnets
Paddy Davitt King's Lynn's on-loan Kettering defender Luke Graham revealed yesterday the club's huge fan base was the key factor in his switch from the Blue Square Premier pacesetters.
King's Lynn's on-loan Kettering defender Luke Graham revealed yesterday the club's huge fan base was the key factor in his switch from the Blue Square Premier pacesetters.
The 22-year-old turned down a posse of the Linnets' Blue Square North rivals to agree an initial one-month move from the title-chasing Poppies.
"Clubs like Alfreton and Redditch were interested," he said. "But the draw for me was I knew a couple of lads here at Lynn. I'd also heard of Lee Glover as well and to be honest the clincher was I looked at the crowds.
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"They've got the second best support in the league and everyone wants to play in front of a big crowd to show what you can do. With the potential here, the crowd and the facilities I felt I could help push the team on.
"I actually spoke to Mark Cooper at Kettering about a month ago regarding a loan move. There were some options in the league below but I wanted to play in the Conference Premier.
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"I'd won the league below last year and finished runner-up the year before. I also finished fourth as well when I was 18 so I've got more than 100 games experience at Lynn's level. Ideally, I'm hoping to progress my career in the Conference and try to get back in the Football League where I started with Northampton."
Graham grabbed his first Lynn win in the timely weekend 3-0 romp over Solihull Moors after a testing baptism against highly-rated duo Tamworth and Kidderminster.
"The first few games were tough for me because I didn't really have a chance to train with the lads or even get to know the names," he said.
"I've been on the bench at Kettering most of the season so you lose match fitness. Tamworth was a very tough start but personally I felt it went alright. I could have even scored with the chance I had at the end.
"I don't think Kidderminster in the FA Cup was really a 5-1 game but what both matches did show up were a few defensive frailties. That's not looking at just the defence but the whole team needs to be better in terms of organisation."
The versatile central defender switched to right back to help Lynn end their recent rocky patch against Solihull - but the club's weekend win was marred by yet another defensive injury to fellow loan signing Bradley Thomas.
"It certainly doesn't help," said Graham. "I played most of the games in the best defence in this league last season and it's important you have the same personnel.
"Everyone knows each others' jobs, the communication is good and you go into games knowing there is every chance of keeping a clean sheet.
"Even if you do concede you have to say, 'right, let's regroup and not concede another.' At Kettering the lads are top of the league right now and we all have that mentality. That's what I said to the gaffer here when I came. I told him I'm an out-and-out defender and I wanted to come and try to help the club keep clean sheets."
Graham draws on his recent Blue Square North experience to predict good times ahead at The Walks.
"I don't know how long I will stay but I have no doubt this squad will be in the top half," he said. "If we can get it together as a unit we will score goals. We have scored goals in every game I have been here.
"It's about keeping clean sheets but, for me, the target has to be the
play-offs. I know what it takes to finish in those positions and the quality of the attacking players here is not in doubt.
"At the end of the day the club is part time. Sometimes lads can't make it into training or they have jobs to take care of but the club is geared towards getting to that next level. It's just having time to work on things and the organisation side of it. We conceded a goal against Kidderminster from our own set piece and that should never happen."
Graham's initial loan spell ends after the league trip to Southport on November 15. The 22-year-old is not eligible for Lynn's FA Trophy home tie against Stafford the following week - but the young defender has not ruled out an extension.
"It's been left pretty open at the moment," he said. "I think from King's Lynn's angle they would like me to stay and help the boys a bit more. I really enjoyed it on Saturday and I could see good signs.
"I need to have a chat with my manager before the last game. With the January transfer window coming up it might be better for me to stay and play games rather than go back to Kettering and not really feature in the fold.
"It's very important I play games so I'll probably have a chat in a week or so with the gaffer here as well and go from there."
n Read Mark Hearle's latest exclusive behind-the-scenes column today only on edp24.co.uk/kingslynn