Friday, January 25, 2013
King’s Lynn Town have been rocked by the departure of winger Steve Spriggs, who has left The Walks to join Boston United. Linnets writer GAVIN CANEY takes a look at what life holds without one of their best players.
Anyone who says King’s Lynn Town won’t miss Steve Spriggs is either lying or deluded.
That’s not to suggest, for one moment, that he is irreplaceable. Footballers come and go. Eric Cantona wasn’t the last number seven to be adored at Old Trafford. And Spriggsy won’t be the last winger to dazzle at The Walks.
However, his goals return will certainly be hard to replace. As will his pace and ability to rip teams to shred, especially on the break. A huge 63 goals in 129 appearances is a remarkable feat from out wide. Especially considering 18 of those came this term at a level he was deemed to not be good enough for.
Spriggs was also a much-loved figure. One who raised the mood, even among us press types, by his sheer full-of-life presence. He was a cheeky chappy who saved his best displays for the big occasion. It’s why he excelled during the FA Trophy run and why he’ll hopefully shine for Boston United.
Unlike some supporters who have laid into him for ‘jumping ship’, I certainly won’t be calling Spriggs a ‘Judas’. In my eyes he’s only guilty of allowing his ambitions of playing at a higher-level to outweigh his obvious love of Lynn.
Would he have played at Step Three, or above, with currently Step Four Lynn? Possibly. Maybe probably. But will he play at Step Two for the Linnets on Saturday? Definitely not. And for a 24-year-old with serious ambitions of making a name for himself, just like his Cambridge United-legend dad of the same namesake did, the chance to step up was simply too good to turn down.
His stock may never be as high as it currently is. All season he’s been making headlines. So it seems as good as time as any to give himself a chance of some day playing anywhere near the Football League like his father did.
Time will tell if his move will pay off. He certainly has many areas of his game to improve. Like any player he has his flaws, especially defensively. But he’ll be the first person to admit that himself. And he’s only got away with those weaknesses thanks to the way Gary Setchell has set up his team.
In the Trophy, Spriggs’ attacking threat was counter-balanced by the defensive work of Lynn’s central midfielders, especially skipper Richard Bunting. The Linnets boss used the weapons at his disposal to get the best out of his squad – and Spriggs.
Now, he has to face life without his little wing-wizard again. But it’s certainly a challenge he is better prepared for than when Spriggs last left, last season, to play in Sweden. The best managers build and rebuild. And so far Setchell is carving out a fine reputation for himself by doing just that. Lynn finished second to Long Buckby last term. What did he do? He shipped out a handful of players to bring in three – plus others from elsewhere – from the side who pipped them to the title.
As a result, the Linnets now have a better squad than they did last term – even now that Spriggs has left. It’s time for his former manager to build and rebuild again. By his own admission, Lynn’s boss panicked last year when the 24-year-old headed to Scandinavia. Kieron Davies’ arrival didn’t quite work out either. But now Setchell is almost a year older, a year wiser, and a better gaffer than he was back then.
Lynn’s chief is still young at 37. But he’s improving all the time. Look at the way he, his assistant Neil Fryatt and coach Ross McNeil, masterminded Lynn’s Trophy run. While some could accuse the Linnets of bottling big games last season and having no Plan B, this term they’ve thrived on the grandest stage among a sea of Plan Cs and Ds.
Setchell has gone 4-4-2, 4-5-1, 4-3-3 – you name it, he’s probably done it. And more often than not it’s worked because of the options at his disposal. A host of his players can play through the middle, be it up front or in midfield, and out wide.
Danny Beaumont, Sam Mulready, Danny White and George Thomson to name just four. Whether they step into Spriggs’ shoes only time will tell. Maybe a new man will be brought in to shine? Either way, there was life before Spriggs and there’ll certainly be life after him – especially if Setchell makes the right call in replacing him.