Stephen Cleeve: Help make it a magnificent seven in February!

Ethan Coleman on the ball for King's Lynn Town

Ethan Coleman has made a return to league football, via King's Lynn Town - Credit: Ian Burt

February could well be a season defining month for King’s Lynn Town as the club must play a gruelling seven matches in just 21 days.  

Anyone who fancies some local football will not have to travel far as we are at home every Saturday in February and on Tuesday February 15 as well, so, if you are looking for a romantic late Valentine’s gift for your wife you know where to take her!

There are many fans that have already written off our chances of staying up, but there is no one inside the club who is thinking that way. We have played some tough fixtures recently and have been on the wrong end of some awful refereeing decisions. At Southend United, in injury time, the referee, Lloyd Wood, amazed everyone inside the stadium by awarding the hosts a penalty kick when the challenge by Ross Barrows was the best tackle I have seen all season.

I was so incensed that we complained to the FA who in turn asked the Referee Observer to look over the incident. He agreed with our analysis and his view was that “the expected decision on the evening was that the referee did nothing and did not award Southend a penalty kick”. Not only did Mr Lloyd Wood award a penalty that cost the club a point, but he booked the player for the challenge which meant he had to miss our last game at Boreham Wood.

For good measure he reported our players for surrounding him (this occurred for less than eight seconds and given that he got the decision wrong was surely understandable) and reported the manager for his reaction to the decision. We have asked for a personal hearing from the FA, but if we lose, the whole affair will cost the club around £1,500. You can appeal red cards but not yellow cards so as a club we are feeling very badly treated; putting it another way - if the referee makes what is an easy decision none of the above happens.

The FA have reported the incident to Steve Dunn, who coaches Mr Lloyd Wood and life will probably go on as normal for Mr Dunn. We have had several other decisions go against us this season and surely it is the football on the pitch that should determine our status rather than bizarre officiating from some referees.

It seems likely that an extra promotion place could soon be awarded to National League clubs. This seems entirely logical and fair with there being three promotion spots in every English Football League division and it will be interesting to see what happens to clubs at National League North and South levels if this happens.

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Off the pitch, Ethan Coleman was sold to Leyton Orient and he has played twice in League Two. Ethan played just 33 times for the Linnets, and I doubt that there is another National League club that over the past season and a half has sold more players than King’s Lynn Town.

Blackpool midfielder Sonny Carey was back at The Walks watching King's Lynn take on Wrexham

Sonny Carey - now with Championship side Blackpool - Credit: Ian Burt

This season alone Ethan joins Jordan Richards, who moved to Brackley, Joe Taylor, who graduated through our academy program at KES to join Peterborough, and Junior Morias who moved to Dagenham. Other players who have moved on recently include Sonny Carey, who joined Blackpool, Simon Power (not our player, of course, as he was loaned to us by Norwich but nevertheless played most of his football at The Walks) who moved to Harrogate, Kairo Mitchell, who moved to Chesterfield, Jamar Loza, who was sold to Woking, and before that Fraser Blake Tracey, who signed for Peterborough, and Cameron Norman, who went to Oxford United.

It surprised me to find out recently how hard some non-league clubs make it for their players to move on and progress. We have always operated in the polar opposite manner.  If we can be seen by players that need a second chance as the best club to showcase their talents, it makes our recruitment that much easier. Ethan had many more lucrative financial offers in the summer but chose to stay with King’s Lynn as he and his agent felt it was best for his career development. Indeed, even after Ethan’s departure we have at least five scouts visiting the Walks today for our match against Weymouth.

Next season we will launch our Under 23s team, with a direct pathway into the first team which will coincide with our degree programme that starts in September. We are finalising plans for some stadium improvements that will see a new TV gantry, exit gates and additional segregation, a proper PA system and a few other minor improvements. We have also launched a mini season ticket that covers the five games in February for the price of four and priced the same ticket at just £8 for kids, which works out at just £1.60 per game.

The players, the manager and his staff have worked hard to prepare for our big month ahead and we now need as many fans as possible to be our 12th man and help get us over the line.

Fans need to stick together in times of adversity, and I was delighted at Southend United by the number of Southend fans that stopped me to tell me that we deserved a point and to keep our heads up; more still wrote to the club in the days that followed to offer encouragement and support.  At grassroots level fans are still united and that is what makes the sport a truly beautiful game.