Doesn’t seem long since the last time we slogged our way to the back end of Norfolk. That journey never seems to get any quicker, partly because of our grim record there.. or at home too. The last time we beat any Kings Lynn team was in the FA Cup in 1971, and that was at Edgar Street in a replay as Hereford United. We’re surely overdue..
If you are thinking of being there, do be warned that admission is far from cheap. £18 to stand or £20 to sit with a couple of quid off either for seniors. Their website states there are 150 seats for visitors. They like seats to be pre-booked and given the numbers allegedly travelling, the seats will be quieter with access to better facilities.
The big question is whether our new look side can actually get a result there? We are literally fielding a different team, a combo which demonstrates a remarkable tenacity and will to win. It doesn’t help that we will be travelling without 5 players due to injury and suspension – to lose so many is really shocking luck. Welcome to the up and down world of Step 2. Mr Caddis.
Stories of a mass player departure from Kings Lynn are heartening from our perspective but are a little over-hyped. They were always going to lose their goal scorers – only 3 of the top 14 scorers in NLN last season are still in our League this term. One of those 3 is long term-injured. Lynn will certainly miss their Captain Michael Clunan – born in Lynn and played over 200 games for his home town club. The excitement of Scunthorpe was too much for him to refuse.
They have retained 10 players from last season, all of which were regulars or semi-regulars so more evolution than revolution. The goalkeeper Paul Jones and 3 of their back 4 are still present though they don’t yet have a specialist left back. Three senior midfielders were also retained thus most of the squad core is still in place.
There are least 5 new recruits, all aged between 19 and 23 and all firmly in the potential bracket. One of them has only played in Gibraltar, another just in Portugal. None of them from this distance shout “I’m proven step 2 quality, you need to be worried.” On top of that, The Linnets have signed several academy players on pro forms. They work in partnership with a local sixth form college on an U19 full time football and education programme. That’s to the credit, an authentic “grow your own” scheme that others ought to look at but of course you have to allow the young ones to learn and make mistakes.
Right now, Kings Lynn look far less formidable than previously with the big question “where will their goals come from?” Their front men are last years’ second string – Hughes and Ponticelli now only supported by Bartley, a 19-year-old rookie on loan from AFC Wimbledon. The answer may come from the back – both central defenders scored 8 giaks each last season. Lynn, like ourselves, are in the market for more talent.
Lynn’s new manager is Mark Hughes, that’s the Irish Mark Hughes. He’s 39 and this is his first shot at being in charge. He was formerly No 2 to the departed Tommy Widdrington. Hughes was a midfielder who spent most of his career with Southern-based non-league sides though he did play twice for the Northern Ireland senior mens’ team.
The football club remains solely reliant upon one person for its existence. Owner Stephen Cleeve is the sole director so he probably doesn’t worry too much about the content of board minutes. The last club accounts for 21/22 showed a deficit of £438.000. Since then, they’ve had another season of full-time football on 1,100 gates which logically can only further hinder the bank balance. Whether that previous heavy outgoing has re-shaped the clubs’ recruitment policy this summer is hard to say from this distance. The wider question as ever is how much is “success” worth to an individual – particularly at a club with enforced limitations?
Could this match be sixth time lucky for us? Be there if you can.