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VS CHIPPENHAM TOWN/KINGS LANGLEY

It would be impossible to start these notes without talking about the FA Cup tie against Harlow Town FC. It was a tense game and had everything in it that you would expect to see in a good cup tie, drama,

controversy, passion, commitment and great team spirit which would see us over the line. When the young Gary Mills headed the ball home it felt like the noise would take the roof off the stand, I even had a complaint from a neighbour complaining about it, I wrote back to him explaining that if you are noise adverse buying a house next to a football club that has been in situ for more years than he has been alive is not the smartest move that you can make!

I spoke with the Harlow directors before the game and said that in my opinion the result was a coin flip, a real 50/50 and whoever wanted it more would win. They did not seem to agree or disagree but looked shocked at my assessment but I still feel that I would say the same thing if they returned to the Walks something that I hope they do not do for a while after the bruising that some of our players took. Toby spent all week having his teeth looked at, the Doug Rougvie look is clearly something that he does not want to emulate. There were 4 sendings off two on each side and frankly I think that the elbow in Toby’s face was another red card, I guess that the assistant did not see it. I was asked by KLFM after the game what I thought about the referee and I have to say that in those circumstances when both teams are involved in a melee over nothing (some as peacemakers others as trouble makers) and Harlow’s manager and substitutes were also involved I really don’t know what he is expected to do about it; visually there is too much going on to be able to take everything in.

There are two types of teams that come to the Walks those that play football like ourselves and those that contain big players who are well organised but whose sole purpose is to stop us playing football and kick us off the pitch. Kings Langley who we play on Tuesday here at the Walks are certainly the latter it will be interesting to see today what type of football Chippenham play today.

I think that in general referees and their assistants do a great job, it really is a difficult job as when you make one decision there is one happy party and one upset party so you can’t win. What I have asked Norman Cesar to bring up at the next Southern League AGM is why the referees cannot tell us how much injury time we are to play so that we can put the board up and let everyone know? I really think this would be a positive change and one that is easy to implement.

I will not be here on Tuesday night the first Kings Lynn first team match that I have missed including pre season friendlies since I have taken over but I am attending Soccer Ex in Manchester which is a 3 day event where I have some meetings lined up for the club which I must attend.

The commercial side here at the Walks is starting to take shape. We have an AC/DC tribute night in October that may well blow our roof off and then we have Christmas parties that can be booked now from 1 to 100 guests. You can either join a party or hire the whole venue for your company. They will be fun nights with food cooked by my chefs from the George so bring your employees here for Christmas or ask your boss if you could hold your party or join a party here at the Walks.

The home shirt sponsorship is still being discussed with a number of parties and I really hope we can finalise it sooner rather than later so I can let you into my surprises that I have lined up. Pitch side boards are selling really well we are taking down all the ones that have not paid (some for at least a season) and I am sure we will sell more boards this season than we ever have done before.

We have a great home FA Cup tie to look forward to against Alfreton from the league above and I can’t wait but before that we have to really concentrate on the league. Chippenham are flying and we will need to be at our best to win today, a big welcome to their fans and directors. Kings Langley will also offer a footballing test and we will need to have our minds focused on the game and not the FA Cup tie otherwise we will do ourselves an injustice. A big welcome also to the directors and fans of Kings Langley.

 

Stephen Cleeve

 


 

VS HARLOW TOWN

A big welcome to The Walks for this FA Cup tie and a warm welcome to Harlow Town’s directors and supporters. Times are changing at Kings Lynn. On the pitch we have picked up 9 points from 12 (I am writing these before our match at Biggleswade) and look a different team to the one that started so badly. I have still got a grin on my face after our trip to Cheshunt and although we may have had a little luck here and there we deserved that victory. A lot was made about the Darren Purse sending off, our players felt he should have had a straight red for what looked like a deliberate elbow.  The referee may well have felt it was a straight red but gave him the benefit of the doubt but when he made the next foul (which Darren admitted to me afterwards that it was) he had probably had enough and I don’t blame him either.  In my book he got what he deserved, if you are on a yellow card you need to be sensible and not make the referee’s job any harder that it needs to be.

 

So I was delighted to be able to unveil Barsby Produce as our away shirt sponsor. Peter Hancock the owner of Barsby is a football man and like me used to spend his youth at Stamford Bridge.  What I think is very telling is that before our FA Cup against Brigg Peter had not been to the Walks before, but once he had arrived he thoroughly enjoyed his afternoon. We all need to spread the word; there must be hundreds of people that are missing out on what I believe is an excellent standard of football.  For those of you that don’t know Barsby Produce sell vegetables, fruit and cheese to the hotel, pub and restaurant trade and I can vouch for the top quality of their products, as they have been supplying the George for a couple of years, so if you work in that industry and don’t use Barsby as your supplier please call them and get a quote, they are reliable and entrepreneurial and being based in Kings Lynn with over 50 employees makes them local as well. It is really important that we all help our sponsors as it makes it much easier for them to see the commercial benefits of being associated with Kings Lynn Town FC.

 

Not only has Peter sponsored the away shirt but he has also booked hospitality for today’s match and will be enjoying a 3 course meal before the game along with several others. Why not join him and for a special occasion bring someone, you get the best seats in the house, parking, programmes, a decent meal cooked by my head chef from the George and all for £ 65 + vat. Talking of sponsors it gives me great pleasure to welcome back Dusty Miller of Lynn Commercials into the fold. I have heard lots of stories about Dusty but never had the pleasure of meeting him so am delighted that he has sponsored today’s game so I will finally get to chat to him in person and hear some of the stories that I have been told, first hand. Dusty always used to sponsor our FA Cup games so let’s hope that there are plenty more for him to sponsor after today’s match. Also a big welcome to our short sponsor SWC security. SWC are local and they supply trained security staff for all manner of events, we already use their services having 5 of their staff at every home game to bolster our own stewards as well as at any event that we hold at the stadium. My thanks goes to Nick Carter and Brett Cruickshank for their support of our football club. There is another name I would like to add to the above John Prowse who has recently moved to the area with his wife and they have now taken up residency in the Directors Box, and have already agreed to sponsor 2 players and taken a perimeter board as well as enjoying the matchday hospitality before and after matches. My thanks goes to them as well.

 

There are more names to come and I am writing these notes from London before another lunch meeting on Tuesday where I am lighting the fire and spreading the Linnets gospel outside of Norfolk. In my opinion we are just getting started and I really feel we have not even scratched the surface but I can understand from your point of view that at times it can seem like progress is slow but I can assure you that we are moving very quickly, we just have a lot of catching up to do. One improvement that I hope we have now made from today is that you will now be able to pay for your tickets with a credit card and you can even pay for drinks in the bar via card.  This should have been in place years ago but for whatever reason wasn’t available, so another small step has been taken to bring the club into the 21st century.

 

Today’s game will be tough Harlow are a big physical side and play at the same level as ourselves so we need to take our chances and not make any mistakes especially in areas where they could hurt us. I have great faith in our players, a good team is the sum of more than its parts and I am convinced that this squad can really go places, if we take it one game at a time and keep mentally strong.  Make some noise and be the team’s 12th man they need you as much as you need them.

 

Stephen Cleeve


 

VS BRIGG TOWN

Welcome to Brigg Town, their directors and fans for our first FA Cup game of the season. I always get a buzz when it comes to the FA Cup, it is such a wonderful old competition (first played in 1871-72) and I believe that it has retained a place in fans hearts as the knock out formula has not been altered, so there are always genuine shocks in every round.

The Champions league with its group system means that if you are a big club you have to be awful not to qualify, it is heavily waited in the bigger clubs favour.  Fans are not stupid and know that it’s a case of ensuring that the old boys club go through and earn the most revenue. That’s not the case with the FA Cup; in round 3 Arsenal could draw Liverpool or Wrexham although as you will know drawing a lower division team, does not guarantee a right of passage. There will always be FA Cup upsets and for the “upset” team they will have to live with their embarrassment for years to come. What is essential today is that we are not one of this season’s shocks; if we have the wrong attitude even for 15 minutes in the game it could come back to haunt us, we need to be professional for all 90 minutes or 97.5 minutes if we have the same referee who officiated at the Merthyr game!

I have to say that the last few games have been interesting to see how everyone has handled things, which players have given their all and which ones have not. I always look to see if I was in the trenches, who I would want next to me, covering me as I ran forward. Stevo and Gary Mills would certainly be top choices. I arrived at Banbury early (about 7 hours early in hindsight) and the first player to arrive was Stevo, he probably has the furthest to drive coming from Sheffield but he is still 100% committed and as professional as he was when he played his first league game; that’s why he still the first to turn up. Gary Mills had to come on as a sub at Frome, but when needed he gave his all and indeed kept the side organized against Kettering (no surprise that they scored after he left the field). Gary’s face was as red as one of my beetroots in my garden after Frome but he showed us all that the old stager still has it in him. Before the game at Frome, Stevo promised me that we would win and he was good to his word, with what I have to say was the best performance that I have seen from a Kings Lynn side. Proper football and 3 -1 did not flatter us. The only negative from that day was that we picked up some injuries which meant when we went into the Kettering game we were depleted in numbers. Sam Gaughan played with an injury to help out the team when he should have been in the stands as did Toby who had a knock that should have been rested. Dylan scored a cracker which would have graced any pitch in the Premiership, but after 60 minutes we simply ran out of steam.  Remember we had to drive over 550 miles as a round trip to Frome whilst Kettering were at home, and had just a short journey to us on the day of the game.

I am not one to use excuses as we let in two softish goals but had we of had a fully fit team we would have beaten Kettering but that’s all history now, we need to put it behind us and move forward. Those of you who have watched our last 2 games would have enjoyed the football on offer.

One or two idiots have been giving Setch grief about not signing players and giving me grief about not having a sponsor. I have known Setch for some months now and I can tell you that if you cut his veins open he would bleed gold and blue, he is a football manager, he is not playing fantasy football, he can’t just sign players who are no better than what we have already, it’s a pointless exercise. We have tried a few options and no doubt there will be some squad strengthening when he finds the right players with the right attitude who are within our budget, knee jerk reactions are generally not the best way forward.

These same buffoons are also trying to suggest that not having a sponsor means that Setch has got less money to play with in his budget. The only person who has less money is me. We set the budget at the start of the season and we assumed we would get a certain figure for shirt sponsorship, the budget has not altered even though as yet the shirt sponsor has not materialized, it is down to me to make up the shortfall. Don’t listen to these guys, their information is wrong, fourth hand and most of them do not classify in my book as supporters.

Let’s get behind the lads, it’s a long way to the FA Cup 3rd round but the journey starts here today.

Stephen Cleeve


 

VS KETTERING TOWN

I have just taken my family to London Zoo for the afternoon and it reinforces the value that football at the Walks represents amazing value. London zoo charged over £20 for children, over £25 for concessions and over £28 for adults and with sandwiches at nearly £6 and soft drinks at £2.40 it makes for an expensive day out. Indeed a family of 4 could come to the Walks for less than the price of one child being admitted into London Zoo and that does not even factor in the £14.95 to park your car outside the zoo.

We have a huge and loyal band of fans, indeed our average gate this season puts us top of the Southern Premier attendance league and its down to us all to educate friends and relatives as to the joys of watching football here. We live now in a globalised world and there are more opportunities than ever before for families to go and spend their hard earned cash so we need to think about adding as much value as we can to entice new supporters or turn casual fans into regulars at the Walks. I have several ways of doing this but I need to get all my ducks in a row first and this starts with securing a main shirt sponsor. This has been a frustrating situation for me and I am sure that you feel the same and let’s hope we can put it to bed soon.  Where we are making good progress is on match sponsorship with all matches played so far sponsored this season although we do have a gap for the forthcoming FA Cup tie against Brigg Town so if you have not yet experienced our food and hospitality now is your chance.  By bringing in my head chef from the George we are fast becoming popular with visiting away players who all say that it is the best food that they have eaten at a football ground and I understand the burgers and home made sausage rolls are going down well with everyone.

We are also about to launch Xmas party nights with great food so why not support the club and reward your employees with a great value Xmas party more details from events@kltown.co.uk. We also have some bands coming up, a beer festival and other events and information can be obtained from the same email address. I have just paid 50% of the price for our new ticket system which should be in place within 4 weeks, finally we will be able to print our own tickets and be in charge of our own ticket system. Life will be quicker and easier and more efficient although it’s not a cheap process I feel it is a necessary one.

It can be a lonely journey being a football club chairman, not only do you have to pay for the privilege of coming to work but there always seems to be a small but vociferous bunch of “fans” who are almost willing you to make mistakes so that they can have an opportunity to correct the errors of your ways. Quite why these fans think that they are supporters is a mystery to me as they seem to do everything but support the club, luckily they only muster about 10 people. If they knew half of what I did and what some others do for this club they would never say raise their voices again but as my grandmother used to say to me “Empty barrels make the most noise” and she was rarely wrong.

Talking about barrels it gives me great pleasure that Woodforde’s Norfolk Ales are sponsoring today’s match and we are selling their beer in the bar so let’s hope they enjoy the game and come back for more. I am writing these notes before the match against Frome so am hoping that we are continuing our run of form started against Redditch. I felt we were great value for the points at our last home game, after scoring early it looked after the introduction of their player/manager, that we would pay for not taking our chances, but after they equalised the match turned when Pedro made a great save (probably his first of the day which shows how well we dealt with their threat) and Matty got his chance to give us all 3 points. It was also pleasing that Shaun got his first of what I hope will be many goals for us at the start of the match.

Today’s game being a local derby and with two sets of passionate fans has all the makings of a classic and I am looking forward to it and I hope the directors and fans of Kettering enjoy their trip to Norfolk.

Stephen Cleeve


 

VS REDDITCH UNITED

Welcome to The Walks for today’s match against Redditch, who despite their mid-table position will surely be one of the teams fighting for promotion at the end of the season. I would also like to welcome MKM who are today’s match sponsors and the directors and fans of our opponents today.

We are still in discussions with a couple of parties to be our shirt sponsor for this season and I do hope that we can conclude these very soon. We have developed a lot of “money can’t buy experiences” at the Walks which are very innovative and offer any potential sponsor some serious bang for their buck, so if any of you are interested in learning more please do not hesitate to make contact with me (chairman@kltown.co.uk) as I am convinced that when you see what we have in store over the next few weeks it will raise the profile of your business hugely as well as increasing your sales.

This season the following companies have become partners;

SWC Security, Duff Morgan, KL.FM, HM Plant Hire; more are to follow.

My job here is to keep the ship sailing whilst developing various income streams, which will allow Setch’s budget to be increased. One stream which we are certainly starting in September 2017 is a football academy which will not only provide an income opportunity for the club but allow developing footballers to continue their education whilst giving them a real chance of playing football for our first team, something that most education providers in the area cannot offer.

I have mentioned that I believe that our youth system is vital to the club, it’s not the cheap option that one or two of our “fans” think that it is, it is the only way to develop a sustainable future and it is surely what locals would love to see both players and supporters.

The match against Cambridge City shows that we have nothing to worry about this season if we play football like we know that we can. We lost John Sands who is a nice lad but for a number of reasons it wasn’t going to work out for him here and we wish him well at his new club. Shaun McWilliams has come in on loan from Northampton and I hope that he enjoys his time and his football here. There will be more players coming in over the next few days and with a big game on bank holiday Monday against Kettering and a home FA Cup draw on the 3rd September there is plenty of football for the purist to enjoy.

Backie is doing a great job for the reserves his brief is to develop players that can go into our first team and Setch is working flat out to bring you the success that we know you all crave. We could not have a more committed management team with the introduction of Gary Mills as a player/coach, let’s hope we get that first win under our belts today and we can move forward in a positive direction.

Stephen Cleeve


 

VS CAMBRIDGE CITY

So welcome to The Walks and our first “6 pointer” of the season after only 3 games. Clearly we have not had the best of starts and we need to put it right tonight. I thought that Merthyr were a good team and whilst it was a penalty (although a needless one to give away) where the 7.5 minutes of injury time came from, was beyond me. The draw was probably a fair result in terms of possession but good teams win fixtures when they are not 100% on their game.  We moved onto St. Neots wonderful pitch where we were the better team for the first 20 minutes, we did not take our chances and paid the price giving away 2 very soft penalties and a resounding defeat was all that we deserved, the only bright spot being the introduction of Dylan who did not give up the fight until the final whistle. We fared no better at Banbury, the match was well refereed with good linesmen and no needless yellow cards, but we simply did not turn up, too many players went missing on the day and Banbury were worthy winners.

Tonight the players owe our fans a committed performance and I have no doubt that we will get one, many teams come to the Walks to park the bus, playing with 1 up front and 5 in midfield and they become tough to break down, so they will need your support throughout the 90 minutes and then hopefully we can all go home smiling.

I gave a pre match interview at Banbury, which is now on You Tube giving an update on the commercial situation. Needless to say I am very excited at our prospects, which will be unique and interesting for our fans when I am finally in a position to unveil them all.  I am determined not to get side tracked with short term problems, keep my head down, develop a core of local players, start an academy, develop dynamic partnerships which reward our sponsors as well as putting money into the club and bring in multiple revenue streams which will not only ensure the clubs survival but will give us the budget necessary to move up the leagues. League football has to be our aim and the more fans that come through the gate can only help the club get their quicker so please “bring a friend” who has not experienced life at the Walks and if enough of us do it our fan base will swell.  I myself have brought in some new blood and they are genuinely enjoying life here.

Football is a tricky business as you simply cannot control results and there are so many variables that give so many outcomes, which is what makes supporting a club so much fun, without the lows you cannot have the highs.

The only promise that I can make fans is that I will work my rear end off to try and awaken this sleeping giant and any help that any of you can give me would be appreciated. I am sure that I will make mistakes, if I didn’t then my face would be on stained glass windows and I would have devotees offering me their prayers on a Sunday morning but I certainly will not repeat any mistakes that I do make. Learning quickly is vital in today’s business world.

We now have a 3 course meal dining option before games, food prepared by my Chefs at the George (so its very good) and you can watch football from the best seats in the house, have waitress service in a great atmosphere from just £35+vat per match including parking, programmes and team-sheets. Space is limited so please reserve early on events@kltown.co.uk.

We are putting lots of events together for you to enjoy at the Walks but more on that another time.

Big welcome to Cambridge City, their directors are building their club a new stadium and years ago they were the bigger club in the City. Their fans and directors deserve some success but I hope that their season turns round for them on Saturday not tonight!

Stephen Cleeve


 

VS MERTHYR TOWN

A big welcome to you all for our first game of the season and one that will provide a stern test. Merthyr beat us twice last season so we know how dangerous they can be and we will need to be alert from the kick off and have the vocal backing of our fans throughout the game, to ensure that we get off to a good start. It is a long drive from Wales so a big welcome to all the Merthyr directors and fans that have made the journey.

We have created an official membership scheme which gives our fans discounts at home games on beer and food, it allows us to discount prices for our regulars, it’s just £ 25 for the season and as part of your package you will get a longer blog from me, where I can go into more detail than space allows on these pages.

A big thank you to Friends of the Linnets, who have purchased us a cylinder lawn mower. At a cost of over £ 4,000 (that’s second hand) they are not cheap items and I thank Barry Fysh and his merry band of Linnets for supporting me and the club from the start of the season. They are the only supporters group who give money to the club, other groups do not give us a penny, so don’t be fooled if you are told that someone is supporting the club be it a bar or a fans group, they don’t, the only ones that do are the Friends of the Linnets and at some point when we all have some time we will sit down and create an official supporters club which I suspect FOTL will be involved with.

As I mentioned in my pre-season notes there are many who work behind the scenes putting in hours “on the house” to help the club including Norman Cesar, Richard Simper, Kevin, Backie and others, they are vital to this football club. There are the odd few who snipe from the sidelines, you will spot them pretty quickly as they are negative to any change and can’t wait for things to go wrong, these guys put hardly anything into the club other than barbed comments and need to change their attitude quickly as this club is going forward with or without them.

I am sorry that we as yet do not have a sponsor but I can assure you it is not for the want of trying. It is simply a matter of time being able to make contact and visit everyone, we do have a number of possibilities brewing and I do hope that by the time you are reading these notes that we have one in the bag. I am having to total restructure the club to ensure that it can survive and hopefully contribute towards Gary’ playing budget. We have bought in Louise Wilkinson (events@kltown.co.uk) who is setting up all sorts of events and party nights so that the stadium is used more than a few hours a week. You can’t run a business if you are only open for a few hours a week.

We have set up partnership options so that local and national companies can support us and we will have a division soon concentrating on this and other sponsorship packages. Duff Morgan have very kindly agreed to sponsor Gary Setchell’s car so if there is anyone in Lynn who does not recognize Gary, his name will now be visible on the outside of his car so you will not be able to miss him! That leads me nicely onto Gary’s squad which is still being finalised but the prospects are looking good. John Sands and Leon Mettam with Stevo make for a great triple act up front and with the return of Dan and as importantly the emergence of players through our reserve team means that we are well set up for this coming season where promotion remains our aim.  Playing for our reserves is hopefully a stepping stone to the first team for many of our youngsters and ensuring local talent can rise to the top can only be a good thing for Kings Lynn and local football.

Space is short but why not come and support the ladies they kick off tomorrow against West Ham Ladies at 2pm here at the Walks and admission is just £ 5 adults, £ 3 concessions with U11’s free as usual.

Stephen Cleeve


 

PRE-SEASON BOOKLET

I have to say I have been thrilled at the warm welcome that I have received from Kings Lynn Town fans, not just in Kings Lynn either. I met one fan walking to a supermarket in Wandsworth who is a Lynn exile and was very excited for the season to start!

I share his sentiments and these 3 games against top quality sides from Spalding, Boston United and Lowestoft will allow the manager to fine tune his team, test out various formations and make sure that we are ready for the big kick off on the 6th August. I would like to welcome all the directors, players and fans from the above clubs to the Walks and I hope that they enjoy their stay.

Some of you will know that I have been trying to get involved with the Linnets for 3 years as not only are Kings Lynn a massive name in non league football but they are a genuine sleeping giant and one that with a lot of hard work from everyone could be playing league football. There are plenty of smaller towns out there that have league football teams and there is no reason why we can’t join their ranks.

I have been flat out since the take over trying to do 9 months work in just 6 weeks in terms of creating a solid commercial base from which to grow, ideally the job should have started in October last year but it was not possible. I have spoken to lots of companies who have never been involved with local football and are now minded to experience the Walks first hand. If you know any companies who would be interested in sponsorship at any level please email the names through to me personally at chairman@kltown.co.uk, and that includes volunteers.

Just last week I had the pleasure of meeting Cyril who had driven with his wife all the way from Suffolk just to wash the seats and help clear up some of the debris left over from last season. Real dedication from real fans that’s what football should be all about and its acts of devotion like this that inspire me when things get tough which happens to us all from time to time.

There was also a well attended volunteers day who helped with weeding and other jobs at the stadium and its these “salt of the earth” characters who are vital in keeping the club afloat. If you are able to donate any time or you are a qualified tradesman happy to carry out the odd job please also get in touch, the less money the club has to pay out the more money the manager has to put into his team. It’s a very simple equation.

Finally if I could ask you all to spread the word, if all you can do is bring a friend to our first game of the season, if everyone was to do this it would be massive for the club.

The journey has started let’s take the first steps together.

Enjoy the season

Stephen Cleeve

 

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