Lynn boss begins squad rebuild as curtain comes down on season

King's Lynn Town Tommy Widdrington during the National League game against Notts County

Tommy Widdrington is planning for the new season, in National League North. - Credit: Archant

It will go down as a season to forget, but it’s over now – and as far as Tommy Widdrington is concerned, the only way is forward. 

Lynn ended their season with a 2-1 defeat at Wealdstone – a dead rubber as far as they were concerned given they were already relegated, but galling nonetheless, after Gold Omotayo had given them a first-half lead. 

Gold Omotayo was on target for King's Lynn Town at Wealdstone

Gold Omotayo was on target for King's Lynn Town at Wealdstone - Credit: Ian Burt

That they went out on a familiar low will, in the long run, be of little consequence. What happens over the next few days, maybe weeks, will. 

Widdrington’s assessment of his rescue mission is simple: “Failed. I came here to keep them in the division.” 

There are mitigating circumstances, but in truth, Lynn were a very small fish in a very large pond. 

Widdrington has made no secret of the fact that the full-time model was what he called “a myth” because of the club’s lack of facilities – basically, if it’s not on site at The Walks, then the club doesn’t have it. And that means a gym, swimming pool, training pitch. 

Owner Stephen Cleeve has to work out a budget to satisfy his manager’s demands and have the players to mount a serious challenge in National League North next season. 

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Discussions on who stays and who goes have begun – and will continue this week, now the fixtures are out of the way. 

“Obviously I think it is really important we get the last game out of the way first before I have absolute, definitive conversations with each individual player,” said Widdrington, who says he has spoken to “probably half a dozen about definitely wanting them”. 

Those that can leave will know soon. 

“It will be sometime next week, but I have had initial chats with the chairman giving him ballpark names that I want to retain and ones who will have to move on, to better themselves for the benefit of their own careers,” said the Lynn boss. 

“As much as I like the lads, I don’t want to keep people who aren’t going to be pushing and pushing to be playing every week, so there will be people who move on. Ultimately the ones who stay will be the ones who want to stay and who we feel will give us the best chance we have of getting back to the National League as quickly as we can – basically, next season.” 

New King's Lynn Town boss, Tommy Widdrington, right, with club owner Stephen Cleeve

King's Lynn Town owner Stephen Cleeve made the decision to change manage in December, and in came Tommy Widdrington - Credit: Ian Burt

Widdrington has never directly criticised his predecessor, Ian Culverhouse, but says he took over a sinking ship in December, with Lynn yet win a home game. 

Culverhouse’s record 

P     W   D     L      F      A    Pts 

17    2    2    13    15    37    8 

Widdrington’s record 

P     W   D     L      F      A    Pts 

27    6    8    13    32    42    26         

"The stats will tell you we did the right thing as long as we could while we were in the building,” said Widdrington. “Does it give me any solace? No, because ultimately, we came here to try and keep the club in the division and I have to say I didn’t achieve that as a manager and the team didn’t achieve that. I have got no qualms about taking responsibility for being in charge at the end, but we weren’t in charge at the beginning and that’s something – if we had been left in 16th 17th place with that amount of games to go, there is no way on this planet the club would have gone down, trust me on that. But we weren’t.  

“We were marooned almost, the ship was more than sinking, the top end of it was sticking out of the water. We managed to get it on an even keel then we started ploughing forward. I am really thankful to the lads who, whether they knew me or didn’t know me before we came here, they tried their damnedest what they could, with the facilities they had at their disposal, with the touch time we had in training. 

“I think they have been nothing short of excellent and the staff have been fantastic. I think the support from the fan base has just grown and grown and grown in the short space I have been here and the love they have given me has been unbelievable to be honest. I am only doing what I think is right – they’ve seen something in it that was obviously different to when we were here so that is a positive going forward.”