Linnets head north on a journey into the unknown
Chris Lakey Keith Webb leads his King's Lynn team into the unchartered waters of Conference North football this afternoon, admitting that if he fails to negotiate a safe passage his neck is on the block.
Keith Webb leads his King's Lynn team into the unchartered waters of Conference North football this afternoon, admitting that if he fails to negotiate a safe passage his neck is on the block.
The Linnets boss is a relative newcomer to the non-league game, having spent 20 years with Norwich City, but even after the success of winning the Southern League crown in his first full season at the helm, he knows that there is no such thing as a sure thing in football.
“It's a new league and the club have worked hard to make sure that we are soon playing Conference football,” said Webb, on the eve of today's Blue Square North opener at Burscough.
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“If we don't win games the club might decide to bring someone else in who can.
“I am under no illusions at all about how different things might turn for us this season, but if things go well, who knows what might happen. It is all an unknown quantity - like tomorrow's game.
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“It's true that we have an element of surprise on our side because we are new to this league, but on the other hand we know nothing about the teams we are coming up against.”
Webb believes it will take up to 10 games before Lynn know exactly where they sit in the pecking order.
“A month or more and we will know a little bit more about what we are up against and what we may or may not need to do,” he said.
“The only target I have is to win as many games of football as possible - then we will look to see where we are nearer to the end of the season.”
That squad will be missing John Turner, who is on honeymoon, but Webb can call on the services of his leading scorer and Southern League player of the season, Joe Francis, who has recovered from a rib injury.
“Joe's no problem at all and that's obviously good news,” Webb said. “He gives us that balance and his presence is a big advantage to the team - and no one wants to start the season without their top scorer. It will be interesting to see how he goes, but hopefully he can take last season's form into a higher division.”
Francis has reportedly attracted the attention of a number of scouts and a repeat of last season's exploits would almost certainly see him leave The Walks for a top league club.
“It's a very important season for Joe,” Webb added. “If he keeps knocking the goals in he could have a bright future - and as much as you don't like to lose players like him, young players need to be allowed opportunities that come their way.”
The northern adventure is a whole new ball game for Lynn, but Webb has been around long enough not to be un-nerved by the challenge.
“I am quietly confident, having seen this team develop over the last few weeks,” he said. “It would have been nice to have had the full complement to take to Burscough, but we are in a situation where we have a strong enough squad to cope with John Turnerabsence,” he said.
“Burscough will be tough. They have had a hell of a lot of changes in pre-season. It will be gritty and I don't think it will be one for the purists
“Bruce Rioch, when he was at Norwich, used to tell me that after the first clean sheet, the first points, the first win, you are on your way and while we take nothing for granted, I want to be on my way tomorrow afternoon,” he said.
t Squad: Howie, Weaver, Chapman, Peters, Crane, Bridgwater, Frew, Sedgemore, Fisk, J Defty, Bloomfield, Joachim, Francis, Melton, Camm, C Defty, Kelly.