Stephen Cleeve: Saying goodbye to two Linnets legends
- Credit: Ian Burt
At 12.30 pm, King’s Lynn Town will kick off for the final time this season.
The man taking that first kick will in all probability be Michael Gash, who will be playing his last game in blue and gold. Watching on from the stands, sadly injured for the game against Aldershot, will be Ryan Jarvis, who will also hang up his boots at The Walks, metaphorically speaking, at the final whistle.
Both players have been magnificent servants to King’s Lynn, Jarvis with his clever 'thinking man’s' game. While not able to beat some of his opponents for speed, he simply out-thought and outplayed them, looking for the simple pass or breaking down the opponents’ attacking strength with his excellent sense of positioning.
Gash, of course, is the 'target man', the big guy up top, a tower of strength in the air, who can not only hold the ball up magnificently but also score some important goals, none more so than his 115th-minute winner in the super play-off final at Warrington that took King’s Lynn to the National League North in 2019.
If King’s Lynn had not been victorious that day, the club would still be languishing in the Southern Central League, as that league has not completed a season since. Whoever said that football is a game of fine margins was certainly not wrong.
It is not just on the pitch where these players will be missed. It was Jarvis who noticed Sonny Carey and recommended the youngster to his friend and manager Ian Culverhouse, and just last week Gash sent a video message to a youngster who, I understand, will be at The Walks as a mascot. The video was played to the whole school at an assembly and everyone felt very proud.
I know both players well and I know that it will be hard for them both. Gashy, when asked by our media man Mark Hearle for a message to our fans, had to call back as he needed time to compose himself.
Playing for Lynn was far more than just a job to both players, and it will take a time for everyone to adjust their eyesight and get used to not seeing them on the pitch.
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With our full-time model and the lads in the twilight of their careers, they simply could not balance their outside interests with the demands of a full-time footballer, so something had to give.
I am sure that both of them will be frequent visitors to The Walks in the future and we will always welcome them with open arms.
The term legend is often over-used, but in Ryan's and Michael’s case it sums them up perfectly.
The attempted coup by several National League South and North clubs ended in failure this week, as I predicted on my podcast some months ago. They needed the backing of National League clubs to overthrow the chairman and the board of directors and while two National League clubs abstained every other club voted in favour of the board. It will be interesting to see how clubs react. Will they try to break away and run their own league or will they just take it on the chin and move on? Time will tell.
Planning for next season is on-going, with two new players signed and another being announced on Tuesday morning.
Sadly, there is no break for those behind the scenes at football clubs. When the final whistle blows, work on the pitch starts, pre-season plans are made, sponsorship and commercial deals are at their busiest and kit and leisure wear for the club shop must be ordered.
There are numerous commercial contracts to attend to; everything from booking transport for next season to preparing cash flow and financial forecasts for the league. It is just as well that there are very few summer holidays available as we will not have the time to take them!
THANKS FOR READING!
This is my last column until we resume play next season. I am grateful to sport editor Chris Lakey for suggesting that I write it and I do hope that you have had as much pleasure reading it as I have had writing it. Enjoy the summer break.