Linnets’ survival should be celebrated

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In his latest column, Mark Hearle reflects on a difficult season for King’s Lynn Town, whose league survival was confirmed in the penultimate week of the season.And that, as they say, is a wrap.King’s Lynn Town completed their National League North season on Saturday with a 3-0 defeat at Spennymoor Town, bringing down the curtain on a campaign that will live no longer than a few weeks in the memories of all Linnets followers.Back in August if you had predicted a final finishing spot of 18th, five points clear of the last relegation spot in the league, I’m sure more than a few souls would have suggested a head wobble for such a statement, especially with the club finishing just one point shy of an automatic promotion spot to the full National League the previous campaign.In the end, however, this lowly finish must be viewed as a success for the club and its manager Adam Lakeland and his assistant Sam Walker who arrived at the football club in October with the Linnets in a whole host of trouble following Mark Hughes’ dismissal from the hot seat. Town were going nowhere fast and looked almost certain relegation material when the duo arrived from Curzon Ashton, looking to save a ship that had been treading on water since their surprise arrival.Lakeland slowly shuffled his pack, releasing those who he felt didn’t have the heart for a fight. He used the loan market wisely to bring players in who did.Results initially didn’t show what the performances did. Lynn had stopped shipping goals but they couldn’t turn those improvements into wins consistently until late January when finally Town put together a run of results that saw them go on an unbeaten run lasting two months, which ultimately was the spell in the season that preserved the club’s level 2 status.Shortly after his arrival, Lakeland stated that if he were to save the club from relegation it would rank as his greatest achievement in football management to date, such was the task he faced. That he managed to achieve it that should and has to be celebrated by the club’s supporters in the last two weeks but both parties will know that it’s time now to move on and prepare for season 2024/25, which begins in August.Much has been said about last summer’s recruitment by the club and the fitness of the players inherited by Lakeland on his arrival. The much-maligned Mark Hughes bore the brunt of much of those accusations and to be fair it is difficult to argue with those that raise the arguments. As is always the case, a football club’s summer business is crucial to the season that will follow and with the Linnets continuing to be a full-time side Town must hit the ground running when the first ball is kicked in anger.It will be a week or so I’m sure before we begin to see who will be exiting The Walks, although midfielder George Morrison, signed on a loan deal from Fleetwood, has already indicated that he probably won’t be back in West Norfolk next term. Once the stayers and leavers are revealed then recruitment can start apace. Initially, it looks as if most areas of the team will need new blood to make them more competitive and Lynn’s boss will have a shopping list of additions he would like to make.Lakeland is no mug and will know that the next few weeks are important as he seeks the solutions to the problems that he faced on his arrival at the club.Come August it will be his team and his players, simply there can be no excuses.n The Linnets’ financial problems were well documented last season and at one stage it did appear that Lynn could again be going out of business due to a lack of sustainable income.Thankfully, chairman Stephen Cleeve was able to secure some investment from a backer from Singapore and the show continued.However, since the initial announcement little appears to have been announced on the next steps the club will be taking now extra investment has been sourced.Mr Cleeve confirmed a while ago that the club will continue to be full-time again next season and this does, of course, cost an awful lot of money to do.The club’s attendances have been nothing to write home about this term and to see figures for some games of under 700 people inside the ground is worrying.The football club needs money coming in from non-football events to keep the wolf from the door, which is something that hopefully is being worked on as I write this column.A series of music concerts had been muted for the summer at one point but having heard nothing on the subject now for a while you would suspect that they will not be happening this summer.Let’s hope that we see something positive on this front very soon because the club has to stand on its own two feet at some point as a begging bowl can only be handed round so many times.So there you have my summary and feelings on a season that promised so much but ultimately delivered a collective sigh of relief that the club had preserved its step 2 level for another season and, more importantly, survived to fight another day.The Hearle World will now be reverting to its summer mode with a monthly column on the final Friday of the next three months before going back to the regular weekly format in August, ahead of a shiny new season.May I thank everyone who has been in touch during the season conveying their views on my musings.Like anything else football is all about opinions and the world would be a boring place if everyone agreed with each other all of the time.I wish you all a pleasant summer.

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