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Stratford Town



Nothing ever seems to stand still at King’s Lynn for long and the last week or so has been no exception with the arrival of Ian Culverhouse and the departure of Gary Setchell.


I don’t think it is right that I go into every aspect of Gary’s departure but I need to cover it so that you can understand my thinking. At the start of the season Gary and I agreed that with our budget we should be at the very least challenging for the play off’s and both of us felt we should be in the top 5.  Gary still felt the same in November and early December but at the time of Gary’s departure we were 24 points off the play off places which is a huge gap and it means that we are miles off the pace. With the squad that we have we should not be in the position that we are in but the table does not lie so something had to be done.


Over the last few weeks Gary has been asking for a 2 year contract and his request made me look at the situation very carefully as contracts are long term commitments.  I had to look at last season where we finished 11 points off the play offs and this season after giving Gary every player that he wanted which included paying transfer fees and in one case a signing on fee, the budget being increased the gap between us and the play offs has got worse not better.  One or two of our younger players seemed to be going backwards in their development and we were not looking at local players enough for my liking.  We need a scouting network and there seemed little groundwork being undertaken and I understand that Gary had other work to carry out which is understandable but the club without a strong foundation cannot be built properly.


Clearly Gary’s problem was that we drew to many games and I felt we lacked a plan B to break teams down although we often dominated possession and I could not see this situation changing. Another issue is the movement of players and if we lose 2 or 3 players at the end of the season then Gary would need to replace those plus add 1 or 2 more to better the team and I felt that it was hard for Gary to find the right players through his contacts.  Gary had been at the club for 7 years which is no mean achievement in today’s world of hiring and firing and maybe after so long Gary needed some fire in his belly and I feel that a new challenge will reignite his managerial career.


Some fans expressed disbelief that I made the change when the team were on an unbeaten run of 8 matches but of course 5 of those games were draws however I do not believe that you should just fire managers on results you either have the right man for the job or you don’t.  I felt that whilst Gary had done a fabulous job getting Kings Lynn into Step 3 I did not feel that without a massive budget he could get the club into the league.  He may have made the play offs but I felt that if he achieved that and gained a promotion he would be punching above his weight. Of course these are only my opinions and I may well be wrong but having analaysed all the information and discussed the same with several people in the game I felt it was time for us to act as a football club.


I am sure that we will still see Gary at the club and he goes with my best wishes, I like the guy a lot and enjoyed the many hours we spent together talking shop and opinions on the game and I do hope that he will be back sooner rather than later and I am sure he will do a good job for someone.


Once the decision had been made I needed to find Gary’s successor and I needed to do it quickly and ensure that we got the right man. In Ian Culverhouse we have that man.  Ian is professional, a UEFA Pro Coach, has solid Norfolk contacts having played for Norwich for so many matches, has been assistant manager at Aston Villa and Norwich to name just 2 of his clubs and as importantly me for me had been recently at Dagenham and Redbridge and so had a good understanding of the non league game even though the level is higher than where we find ourselves at the moment. Ian wants to set up systems so that we can bring youth players through from our reserves into the first team, set up good networks of scouts across East Anglia and get our club into the football league.


It is an exciting project and if I was allowed to have a bet I would be having one on Ian achieving his aims.  It will not be all plain sailing of course and he will need the fans to stick with him whilst he builds the team and gets his style of play across to the players.  One of the reasons why I made the change when I did was to give Ian the time to mould the team so that next season we hit the ground running rather than spend the first few weeks tinkering with it and perhaps falling behind the early pace setters.


I think as a club we should be honoured that Ian chose to join us as with his qualifications and reputation, there were plenty of other places where he could have gone.  We are now in a position where we can grow this club and take it to a level where in my opinion it should be and I am sure that you will enjoy the journey.


Our first soccer school directed by Ray Hall was a resounding success with 50 children really enjoying their training.  I had several thank you letters from happy parents who told me that their kids thought it was a far better course than those put on by professional football clubs.  We will run another one during the Easter holidays and hope to soon have a network of schools in the region in the near future. The course would not have been possible without our reserve manager’s help Robert Back who was so exhausted by his work that he is now in Florida on holiday and Adam Seal who Ray thought was incredible and we had a couple of ladies who coached as well that performed admirably.


I have had the entrance and exit holes in the front car park filled in this week at a substantial cost but our lease requests us to look after the car park even though we cannot charge for it although of course it is ours on match days.  Sadly the disabled shelter lost its roof in the recent storms and there was other minor damage some of which I have had repaired already.  We had various events at the Walks this week, a wedding, a BNI breakfast which has now returned to the Walks and meets every friday morning and a scaffolding course so slowly but surely we are building an off pitch income which is vital to our survival.


A big welcome to our Match Sponsors Adrian Flux who are a huge employer in this area and are an important sponsor for this club and to Duff Morgan who sponsor our manager’s car without which scouting would be much more difficult. I would also like to welcome Stratford Town FC their manager players and fans. Stratford away was one of our many draws this season and I am sure that the players will want to prove a point to them today as well as make amends for the debacle at Hitchin last Saturday.  The stage is set for a cracking game for Ian’s home debut so let’s get behind the team and roar them to victory.


Ian Culverhouse’s Blue and Gold Army.


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