New Linnets manager unveiled - and it's Strictly business

New King's Lynn Town boss, Tommy Widdrington

New King's Lynn Town boss, Tommy Widdrington - Credit: Ian Burt

King's Lynn Town have a new manager. 

Tommy Widdrington, who made his name as a player with Southampton in the 1990s, was unveiled on Friday – and immediately called for unity throughout the club. 

The 50-year-old confirmed that Paul Bastock, who had been assistant manager to Ian Culverhouse, had left the club. 

Widdrington will be in charge for Saturday’s crunch home game against Dover Athletic, the only team below the Linnets in the National League table. 

“I will certainly be here and having an influence, I hope, and that’s what is required” he said. “There needs to be a change of mentality, possibly, definitely for some people, and I think there needs to be unity. 

“I’m not suggesting there wasn’t (before) but there needs to be unity through the football club and that means from the top of the club, to my right (owner Stephen Cleeve), all the way to the people who pay their hard-earned money to come and watch.

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve with his new team manager, Tommy Widdrington.

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve with his new team manager, Tommy Widdrington - Credit: Ian Burt

“They want to be entertained but they want to win football matches and that’s what I’m in the business to do here at King’s Lynn.”   

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Widdrington - whose son Kai performs on Strictly Come Dancing - spoke to the playing squad on Friday morning, when Bastock handed over the reins after his caretaker role of the past fortnight. 

"Paul has made it very clear that he was very much part of Ian’s staff and has decided himself to vacate the position, so that is a decision I didn’t make,” he said. 

“In fairness to Paul on the handover he was kind enough to hang around and give me information that I felt only he could give me - in effect, stuff I didn’t want to talk about with players and other members of staff. So I have got to give Paul a real big pat on the back for being around when the reins were passed over as such.” 

Widdrington’s message to the Lynn fans was clear. 

“We have to be together, we have to be rowing in the same direction,” he said. “It is your town, it is your club. People who come in are custodians of your club for a period and I will give you as an individual everything I can give you in terms of my knowledge, my experience, the benefit of my contacts in the game and I know every pound the chairman spends he will get £1.10 back in terms of effort from the players in the building at the moment.  

Tommy Widdrington and Linnets owner Stephen Cleeve

Tommy Widdrington and Linnets owner Stephen Cleeve - Credit: Ian Burt

“I genuinely feel that some of the players might feel disengaged because they haven’t played much of a part or they have been injured recently. I have been at football clubs where there’s been bad runs, but bad runs are habits, the same as good runs are habits. 

“There will be a club in this division not even thinking they are going to be close to that trap door come April, May, but there will, because we’ll be climbing the other way, we’ll be having a good run at the same time.” 

Widdrington watched training on Friday morning. 

“I have watched and I have had a chat with the group,” he said. “When I say the group I mean all the players – those currently playing in the games, a couple of younger ones who possibly you might not know yet and also the lads who are injured and can’t play a part at the moment.  

“It is an old cliché in football but it is a clean slate, everybody needs to be pulling in the right direction. We need no holes in the boat, we don’t want anybody not pulling in the same direction.” 

Widdrington made 75 appearances for Southampton before spells with Grimsby, Port Vale, Hartlepool and Macclesfield, His playing career ended with Salisbury City in 2010. He was player-manager of Salisbury in that final year. He moved on to be assistant manager at Southend and was manager of Hemel Hempstead Town for a few months before taking over at Eastbourne Borough, where he spent five years. He became head of recruitment at Coventry and then Bristol Rovers - where he had caretaker manager spells on two occasions last season. 

The Newcastle-born Widdrington left Rovers last week.