On the eve of King’s Lynn Town’s return to the National League North and Step Two football, the club’s head of media Mark Hearle takes a personal look forward, and back, ahead of tomorrow's first fixture of the season at Guiseley.
King’s Lynn Town will take to the field at Guiseley on Saturday in non league football’s step two for the first time in 11 years, capping an amazing transformation over the past year or so.
From play-off final heartbreak and Ian Culverhouse’s departure in 2018 to Super play-off winners at Warrington in May with Town again back under the guidance of Culverhouse - the man who is thought so highly of by all those connected with the Linnets.
Much has been written and said about the past 24 eventful months at the club and now it is another part of the history of the club which always seems to be close to the back page headlines, be it for the right or the wrong reasons.
It must remain in the vaults as it cannot be compared to the next steps about to be taken by the club as it strives to fulfil chairman Stephen Cleeve’s vision of league football – a dream that for now must firmly be also filed in the vaults under ‘revisit in the future’. Season 2019/ 20 is solely about one thing – survival. Surviving in a league with a handful of full time clubs.
Surviving the many hours that will be spent on numerous northern road trips on wet Saturday afternoon’s to far flung reaches of the UK.
And surviving the experience of being very much a small fish in a big sea, something some may not be accustomed to.
This is the reality. Please do not read the above as an acceptance of struggle as it most certainly isn’t.
For what it’s worth the squad looks to me to be able to go toe-to-toe with most, if not all, of the teams in this league and collect more than enough points to maintain their status come April.
Ian keeping the vast majority of the squad together over the past season or so is testament to his belief that a radical summer overhaul was not the answer.
Many have tasted level two ( and higher) before so ‘panic buying’ was never an issue, we most certainly have the men for the job. There will be difficult days no doubt but I’m also sure that there will also be some of those 'I was there days' and days where ‘little old Lynn’ (and we will be) upset the likes of your Chester’s and York’s creating new memories for the vault and consolidating the club’s status at an elevated level longer than the 12 months achieved previously.
Support and supporters will as ever be key to what can be achieved. It goes without saying levels of support at times last season was a little head scratching to say the least.
After the bad start it was a task to bring back the floaters but the trickle gained momentum and eventually we were not far away from previous season’s numbers.
As ever, the play-offs were well supported but the club has to be looking at a figure of around 750-800 as a minimum for most games this season.
The chairman has done his bit (in fact rather a lot) to upgrade the squad and continually improve facilities at an ageing ground which is never an easy task.
The usual debate on prices has now been and gone and there must now be an acceptance that matches priced at £10 have gone – we are now amongst the big boys – and bills always increase year-on-year and must be paid.
The home games are going to carry importance, even greater maybe than usual if that’s possible, and the greater the number of blue and gold supporting people making the Walks a regular two weekly visiting place over the next season will be crucial.
And if a tricky spell arrives then that support may well be worth a point or two here and there. Yes, it’s that critical.
Over the last two seasons we have been somewhat spoilt by success.
The expectancy of a promotion challenge must be put to the back burner whilst the club, both on and off the pitch, becomes accustomed to its new, loftier surroundings and ensure that we stay there to enjoy it for the season after and so on.
The point I’m trying to make is that patience is going to be the key word this season.
There are no better men than Ian Culverhouse and Paul Bastock to stabilise and then push again our club forward again in the near future.
They and the team will need that support of the supporters even more from August 3 onwards.
I don’t do predictions as a rule but for me a finish of around 10th position in April would be a huge success.
Mid-table and safety would be fine and it’s most certainly achievable from what I know and have seen.
It’s now time to strap yourselves in and enjoy ( if you can) what is going to be another one hell of a football ride!