Linnets appoint interim boss Hughes as manager

Mark Hughes has been appointed as King’s Lynn Town’s permanent manager, replacing Tommy Widdrington, and will lead the club into next season.

The former Barnet and Chester midfielder had already enjoyed a successful spell at the club as interim boss has agreed an 24-month-contract at The Walks.

Goalkeeper/coa Paul Jones will continue to work alongside him in the dugout.

New King's Lynn Town manager Mark Hughes
New King’s Lynn Town manager Mark Hughes

Hughes – who has spoken of his desire for the job since stepping into the breach on a temporary basis – steadied things at the Walks as interim boss in his five matches in charge.

He guided the club into the National League North play-offs following the unexpected departure of Widdrington at the beginning of last month.

Hughes’ first defeat in charge came last Sunday after Kidderminster triumphed 4-1 in the play-off semi-final at The Walks.

Lynn’s hopes of winning the league looked remote when the Northern Ireland-born Hughes took over, but a string of successive wins saw the club take the title race with AFC Fylde down to the final day of the campaign.

The club has now rewarded Hughes by offering him the job on a permanent basis.

Linnets owner Stephen Cleeve decided to stick with his caretaker manager and the club will continue to operate on a full-time basis next season.

Although this is Hughes’ first time as a permanent manager, he has plenty of experience as assistant.

He is no stranger to roles in the dugout having cut his teeth in a player-assistant manager role at Bishop’s Stortford in 2017.

He joined Cheshunt for the 2018–19 season, where he continued playing alongside roles as first team coach and later assistant manager.

And his next stop was Billericay Town as assistant to manager Kevin Watson in January 2021 before being named as coach of the Linnets, under Widdrington, following his appointment back in December 2021.

On the playing front, Hughes began his career wtih Spurs, but failed to make a senior appearance before joining Oldham, initially on loan.

His next step was Thurrock, but he then moved to Chesterfield, before joining Stevenage, who were then in the Conference Premier.

He then moved to Chester, where he made almost 70 Football League appearances and rom there he moved to Barnet, where made more than 100 appearances, before making 31 Conference South appearances for Eastleigh, scoring three goals.

Spells with Chelmsford City, Eastbourne Borough followed before he started to focus on both playing and coaching.

He also won 12 caps for Northern Ireland U21 and two senior caps against Romania and Uruguay in 2006.

The first job for the new Lynn boss will be to sort the retained list for next season with a number of players out of contract following the completion of the campaign.