Linnets star Henderson on the frustration of a season without an ending... yet
King’s Lynn Town are in limbo as they await a decision on what happens next in the National League following the indefinite suspension of matches. Linnets star Chris Henderson tell us in his own words what it’s like playing the waiting game
Until less than a month ago I was looking forward to April as the month where King’s Lynn could wrap up our second successive promotion.
Instead, I’m sitting around kicking my heels desperately hoping for some good news.
It’s torture. At a time like this it can be really difficult to find the motivation to keep your fitness levels up, knowing that you’re not going to be playing football any time soon.
It’s really easy during the season – you’ve got either two games and a session a week or vice versa, so your fitness is taken care of.
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I’ve been dragging myself out of the house and running around Norwich or near the UEA. All the players have been keeping on top of their fitness levels.
The waiting for a decision is unbelievably tough; the postponement makes it really difficult to look back and take stock of what we’ve achieved when you don’t know what it’s actually going to mean.
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We’ve seen foreign leagues and some other sports, such as rugby, award teams at the top titles or promotions, but there are leagues below us that have been called as null and void.
So, it feels like we’re in no man’s land in terms of what decision to expect. We can only hope that the decision goes our way and that we’re rewarded for what we’ve managed to achieve this season.
I think that has been lost a little bit, when you consider it’s our first season at this level, it’s extraordinary. We’d obviously like to see the league decided on a points-per-game basis, which you’d expect me to say given our position. But I genuinely believe it is the fairest given how much of the season has been played.
It’s obviously a different story if this had happened after 10 games, but we’re at the stage where teams aren’t in the top two or at the bottom by accident. There may be discrepancies between home and away games played, but you could even take the average from the two if you wanted to go that far.
Voiding the season will only benefit the teams at the bottom and football shouldn’t be about rewarding failure.
I can’t see how football at National League level can resume this season. It is probably easier for the football at the top level to hold out and resume because they have the money and power to extend contracts and can ride out this period when they’re not receiving match day income. Clubs at this level cannot.
In the National League, players’ contracts expire in April, whereas at the top level they run until the end of June, which they can extend if they have to.
At this level, I can’t see how that would be done, which makes it very hard to finish the season. Even in the scenario where you could find a way, we would need a minimum of three weeks to get up to speed for games. So only almost a month after it’s deemed safe to play – and who knows when that is going to be? – could we actually do so.
All the players are still in constant contact in our group chat. We’re talking about the same things everybody else is, which is what the outcome is going to be, what we think will happen, and obviously we talk about the money side of things as well.
I get on well with the chairman, so I speak to him pretty regularly. He has asked us all to take a wage cut for the remainder of the season, which we’ve agreed to because we think that is the right thing to do for the club and its long-term future.
The chairman has been great in terms of communication and his requests have been more than reasonable, which is all you want.
From a personal point of view, I miss football a great deal. My whole week revolves around it and I’m not embarrassed to say that. Apart from my kids, it is my life.
I think this crisis has made people a bit afraid to admit football is important, but it is. Obviously, there are bigger things to worry about currently, but people need to realise that football was important before and it will be again afterwards. Football is a massive escape for people and often the thing that can underpin communities or even bring whole countries together, as we saw in 2018 World Cup.
I feel like football is the only thing that has brought England together since the referendum in 2016. I’m a fan and a player so I see it from both sides, but the thing I miss most is running out at The Walks and I cannot wait to get back to it, which I’m sure is true for every fan in the country.
It’ll also be great to get back to Carrow Road, whenever that may be. Everyone knows I’m a massive fan of Norwich City. They’ve taken some criticism for furloughing non-playing staff and I can understand why the Premier League is taking stick when you consider the money at that level, whether it be from television or the wealth of the owners.
At the same time, I imagine they would argue that they pay millions of pounds of tax into the system and so should be able to access the collective pot in extraordinary times.
I’m in two minds, because while I completely recognise that asking the tax payer to cover the costs of staff at clubs while footballers get their full wages is a bad look, I do think that Premier League players, especially, are an easy target. Yes, they earn millions, but so do hedge fund managers and investment bankers. Where are the calls for them to hand over half their salaries?
But whatever happens, I’ll never moan about a 400-mile round trip for a game ever again. Probably.