Result: King’s Lynn Town 2-2 Trafford (Evo-Stik NPL Premier Division)
Venue: The Walks (Saturday 22nd February 2014, 3.00pm)
‘I must be mad’. This was the thought I had in the morning, when I pondered the day ahead. A first trip down to Norfolk in my life, and therefore to King’s Lynn, the best part of 3-and-a-half to four hours drive away. Luckily, as I was heading down towards Shawe View & the pick up point for the coach, said transport drove past me and stopped at the co-operative shop. Now, for anyone who doesn’t know what a co-operative is, it is like a Tesco Metro or a Spar. Do co-ops exist outside of Manchester?
Due to being familiar with the coachman, he let me on at this point thus saving me the boring 20 minute walk ahead and after securing the seat where the plug socket was to ensure a good level of charge for my phone, I thought to myself ‘This is going well!’ Setting off a little after the stated 8.30 am departure time, I had now been joined by Dan Watkinson….again….. 170-odd miles. It was a clearly obvious decision to place King’s Lynn in the Northern Premier League wasn’t it FA?
Around 2 and a half hours into the trip, the coach pulled into the allocated breakfast stop, the Jolly Scotsman, which is situated in the town of Sleaford (I think), for the benefit of anyone who visits the town to visit their own respective club, Sleaford Town F.C. It is a very welcoming pub, with friendly staff and people. The food is good, as is the real ale. Now, as a rule I don’t drink too much alcohol, unless it is a cider based drink. However, seeing as how Trafford’s legendary fan Cappy was buying, and what with his real-ale love, I felt it rude not to have one as well!
With the clock now reading ten-past twelve, the second leg of the journey began, with the large following of fans (about 6 hardy souls), and officials/players all turning their attentions towards the imminent game. Arriving at around a half-past one, me & Dan set off to find River Lane in the adjoining area of Gaywood, where a North West Norfolk Football League game between AMA Lynn and Heacham was taking place. I had already researched this game and the teams involved, with AMA currently leading the way in the Division 1. To get there, it meant walking through the small town centre of Gaywood, which features many large Victorian/Edwardian houses, a building dating back from 1110, and a Grammar School from 1510. All very posh and affluent!
To get to River Lane, it is around a 20 minute walk into the centre of Gaywood, before turning to follow the small stream down to the playing fields, where you will find Lynn sports club. Featuring a scout HQ, bowling club and a changing room for the footballers, the playing fields featured three football pitches and a rugby pitch. The pitch adjoining the changing rooms played host to the game we came to see, and over on the far side was another game which I didn’t know about, but later discovered was a cup tie between River Lane Rangers & Springwood. After working out we could only watch for a half-hour, it was still enough time for a goal in both games, the River Lane Rangers goal happened to be the only one in their 1-0 win, and AMA’s first in a 3-0 win by their giant number 14. Their no.5 and 32 also impressed, especially the latter’s bright yellow boots!
After retracing our steps, we soon arrived back at The Walks, not before setting eyes on an abomination that was a One Direction poster in a window of a house. Why would you be driven to do this?! Anyway, after being directed to the ‘box office’ where you have to purchase a proper ticket, no less, to gain entry (£10), I was soon pushing through the turnstiles and into the ground, whereupon I purchased a programme for a further £2. The programme was somewhat disappointing, as I expected more from a club of such stature, in terms of players articles and fans views, but maybe I am being a little harsh? I’ll let them off this time! It’s still a thoroughly good read, and worth purchasing though! There is also a further £1 charge to enter the large Main Stand. The Main Stand is directly to the left of you as you enter in the corner of the ground, the turnstiles being flanked by a portakabin toilet. On the side facing you is a covered terrace which runs the length of the far touchline, with open terracing behind both ends, the near end terrace appearing slightly larger than that at the far end. The clubhouse & box office is built into the bottom of the Main Stand. Incidentally, they even show the game being played just outside on a screen inside ‘The Linnet Lounge’ as it’s known, but unfortunately I think you still have to pay to gain entry, so now thoughts of dodging paying ok?! The ground has a capacity of 5,733, with seating available for 1,200 of this number.
The players had just exited the tunnel, and King’s Lynn were making the early running. King’s Lynn Town are a relatively new club, after the folding of the former King’s Lynn F.C., and here is the story of what happened.
Originally founded in 1879, the original King’s Lynn F.C. were formed under the name of Lynn Town F.C. in 1868, at least this is when the first mention of a club in the town dates from. Their first honours came in the form of a cup win in 1882-’83 in the form of the Norfolk Senior Cup. League honours followed during the following century in the shape of the Norfolk & Suffolk League, with the club being Champions in 1905-’06, (although they were beaten 11-0 by Aston Villa in the FA Cup, a club record loss) and were champions again a further four times in a row between 1921-’22, and 1924-’25, before the outbreak of WWI.
In 1930, whilst still in the Nortfolk & Suffolk League, the club attained their club record win, a 17-0 victory over Beccles. In 1935, Lynn became founder members of the Eastern Counties League (ECL). They left this league to join up with the United Counties League after the end of WWII in 1946, only to return to the ECL two years later. During the ’49-’50 season, the club set a league record attendance of 8,387 for a derby with Wisbech Town, and set a club record that same season in a FA Cup tie with Exeter City, when 12,931 went through the gates.
Their next honours didn’t follow until 1953-’54, when the club had taken the name of King’s Lynn F.C. They attained the ECL League & League Cup double, and at the end of the season made the step up to the Midland League. Four seasons later, Lynn switched to the Southern League when it added a Second Division, with Lynn taking a place in said division. After two seasons, the club were promoted into the Southern League Premier Division.
Relegated at the end of the 1961-’62 season, into Division 1, Lynn returned to the Premier Division after finishing as runners-up in ’63-’64. Between 1964-’65 and ’67-’68 the club won a quadruple of East Anglian Cup titles, but after seven seasons in the Southern League top-flight, they were relegated once more to the Division 1.
1980 saw the club switch into the Northern Premier League (NPL), winning the league’s President’s Cup in 1982-’83. At the end of that season, the club moved back to the Southern League, and won the East Anglian Cup in 1984-’85. At the end of the 1986-’87,the club were relegated from Division 1 to the Midland League, where they remained for nine years, until achieving promotion back to the Southern League, following this with another back into the Premier League. Relegated again in 2001-’02, they were placed in the Division 1 East, which they won in 2003-’04, returning to the Premier League. They won the Southern League Cup in 2004-’05, and qualified for the play-offs in both ’05-’06 & ’06-’07, but lost out on both occasions.
The club won the Southern League Premier Division in ’07-’08, achieving promotion to the Conference North, where they lasted just a season before being demoted a year later due to ground grading issues. During the ’09-’10 season, whilst competing back in the Northern Premier League, the club folded due to financial issues, before re-forming soon after in their current form, ‘King’s Lynn Town’. Town began life in the United Counties League Division 1 in 2010-’11, and immediately achieved promotion as runners-up to St Neots Town, along with reaching the Norfolk Senior Cup Final and FA Vase semis, which both ended in disappointment. In 2011-’12, the club were again promoted as runners-up, and placed in the NPL Division 1 South. In 2012-’13, the club attained a hat-trick of promotions by reeling in and overhauling Coalville Town’s 17-point lead to win the Division and promotion to the NPL Premier Division. At the end of this season, the club competed in the Evo-Stik League Peter Swales Challenge Shield (1st South Winners vs 1st North Winners), where they lost 6-1 to Skelmersdale United.
Back onto today’s game now, and after just two minutes, the Linnets found themselves two goals up, via Andy Hall’s flicked header, and a low first-time right footed finish from Jake Jones, the two wingers of the home side contributing goals. Trafford didn’t get going, and Lynn should have comfortably killed them off within the first half hour, but didn’t and Trafford began to come into it, but hardly created a chance and almost fell three behind, when Kieran O’Hara in the Trafford goal pulled off a top-class double save to deny Lynn’s George Thomson & Gary Mills.
At half-time, due to me doing the match report, I decided to stay outside and get all my equipment in order ( a team sheet and a pen), before the teams reappeared for the second period, and it was to be a completely different story.
You couldn’t have predicted the difference in performances even if you were Nostradamus. King’s Lynn never got going, and Trafford showed hunger and desire to get back into the game, and it took them just four minutes to find the net, as Andy Smart pulled a corner back to Shelton Payne, and Trafford’s leading scorer found the net for his 15th league goal of the season.
Both teams went close as clear-cut chances remained at a premium, Sam Mulready going within a whisker of making it 3-1, and Lynn’s Norwich City loanee goalkeeper Ben Killip pushing away a Steve Mason header from point-blank range, which was adjudged offside to the surprise of the centre-back. Jake Jones went from hero to villain as he was sent-off for a second bookable offence for pulling down Rory Fallon cynically, before with time running out in injury time, Smart was once again Trafford’s creator-in-chief as he whipped a wicked ball onto the 6-yard line where Michael Oates met it with his head to net a late equaliser, and send his side back to Manchester with a point, which was well deserved, as both sides had comfortably won a half each. Unfortunately an elderly gentleman took a bit of a tumble on the stairs as he made his way over to say well done, but happily he was OK and went on his way which went to show the niceness of the fans and people of King’s Lynn Town, who play hard but are fair in the end, as it should be!
With the game over, I accompanied Cappy & Dan towards a local pub, The Lord Napier, which is situated towards the rear of the ground. To reach said public house, you exit through the rear car park, and down the road to the left, you will reach it in full view on your left-hand side. It is a nice place, old fashioned and small, but with a lovely atmosphere and had a notice up bearing the information that ‘On this day in 1868 (I think?) Ireland’s first newspaper was published’. You can be educated as you kill brain cells through alcohol, because who needs math anyway?! After having a Bulmer’s, and watching a bit of the England v Ireland 6 Nations contest, we headed back to the plush Linnets Lounge for a short time before re-boarding the coach back up North. It took just 3-and-a-half hours to get back which was a welcome surprise, lightened up by a large bar of Dairy Milk, and conversations about the ex-Lancashire County Cricket Club mascot Miss Sugar, which I termed the big fat dinosaur and how pointless it was, or not if you listen to Dan. It is though. It’s a big, fat purple thing with pink hair. Why? I’m rambling now aren’t I! I’d best stop.
My King’s Lynn Town M.o.M.- Jordan Yong
My Trafford M.o.M.- Andy Smart
Game: 7- Good, competitive game, with little amount of chances.
Ground: 9- Nice setting and facilities. Lacking another stand I think though. Reminded me a bit of Altrincham.
Programme: 6- A little light on playing staff articles. Decent though
Fans: 8- passionate, despite the unwarranted boos at the end for their side, which docks them a point.
Food: N/A- Too full after my Full English Breakfast.
Value For Money: 8- Just average really £10, £2.
Referee: 9- Thought he got everything major right. No mistakes, apart from a couple of throw-ins.
KING’S LYNN TOWN: 1.Ben Killip, 2.Ryan Clarke(c), 3.Jordan Yong, 4.Jason Lee, 5.Ryan Fryatt, 6.Gary Mills, 7.Andy Hall(1), 8.David Bell, 9.Sam Mulready, 10.George Thomson, 11.Jake Jones(1) (s/o). SUBS: 12.Massiah McDonald(p), 14.Charley Sanders(p) 15.Ewan Clarke.
TRAFFORD: 1.Kieran O’Hara, 2.Clevon Beadle, 3.Andy Smart, 4.Steve Mason, 5.Nia Bayunu, 6.Tom Schofield, 7.Shelton Payne(1), 8.Martyn Andrews(c), 9.Michael Oates(1), 10.Rory Fallon, 11.Simon Hackney. SUBS: 12.Chris Palmer, 14.Rees Welsh(p), 15.Callum Jones, 16.Paul Ashton(p), 17.Luke Heron.
OFFICIALS: REFEREE: Mr. A. Wilson. ASSISTANTS: Mr. W. Hardie & Mr. M. Lawrence.