It’s the end of a very short era for Holt at King’s Lynn
- Credit: Archant
When Stephen Cleeve signed Grant Holt and Simon Lappin a month ago, it is fair to say there were a few reverberations around non-league football.
The fact that they were playing for Ian Culverhouse, a man with a top-class playing and coaching CV, just added to the optimism at The Walks.
But the adage 'what goes up must come down' applies to football as much as anything else in life, and for every high, there is a low.
Four appearances - totalling 192 minutes – and one goal later, Grant Holt has gone. With all due respect to another Canary, Simon Lappin, who signed on the same day, Holt helped swell the crowd to four figures on his first outing. There was sense in the move from a playing and a commercial point of view: Holt puts bums on seats and can still do a job on the pitch.
But he was a wanted man. Lynn beat a few league clubs to his signature, and when one from his native north-west came, it was hard for Carlisle-born Holt to resist.
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Barrow AFC – managed by Ipswich-born one-time Norwich player Ady Pennock – want Holt, who played for the club in 2001-03, to be player-coach, an appointment that looks set to be confirmed after Thursday, when the official seven-day approach is up.
What rankles Cleeve is that something was stirring in the background before the official procedures began.
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Following Saturday's game he called an impromptu press conference – a necessary obligation to lower the eyebrows raised when Holt's name was not on the team sheet.
'I think Barrow haven't behaved in the right way,' he said. 'They rang on Monday to inform us the deal had been done, but they should have given us seven days' notice.
'I then thrashed out a deal with Barrow which gave us a very minimal compensation agreement which was agreed with their managing director. They then reversed that decision on Friday, once the managing director had spoken to their manager, for an unknown reason, and therefore they were not offering any compensation of any sort - and we are talking hundreds, we are not even talking a thousand pounds, a tiny amount of money. And I felt they could have done better. Normally clubs do the right thing and I don't think Barrow have done the right thing.
'But, you now, I wish Grant well. I don't want to stand in his way. He thinks he is better off going up there as opposed to learning under Ian then fine, good luck to him.
'Am I annoyed? We went through a lot of hoops to bring Grant in and I hoped was going to be a longer term deal after this season – there was nothing in writing either way. I thought at least we would have the season and we would then see how it went at the end of the season.
'That is what I was expecting, but the reality is when players aren't under contract there is nothing you can do about it, you are powerless, and lack of power here is our dilemma, we can't do anything about it and much as I would love him to still be a King's Lynn player – I haven't spoken to Grant since this has all happened, so I don't know why he suddenly changed his tune and went.
'There is a rumour that his agent was touting him around – had I have known that this was a stepping stone for a couple of weeks I never would have done it. All I can guess is that he didn't know that was the case when he joined us and this offer came out of the blue.
'There is a new manager up at Barrow, whoever he is, and maybe he thinks he is going to get a few on the gate and obviously Grant could maybe step into his shoes when he goes in the future. Who knows?
'But the point is, I would rather it be dealt with better, not from Grant's perspective, but from Barrow's perspective.
'Grant has probably done the right thing. He has told the manager, the manager has accepted it because there is nothing he can do about it and I wish him well in the future and hope he succeeds up at Barrow.'
Barrow did post a statement on their website on Saturday evening, saying: 'Barrow AFC can confirm that we approached King's Lynn Town regarding the availability of Grant Holt. Conversations have taken place between our manager Ady Pennock and the King's Lynn management team, as well as at board room level. However, no terms have been agreed and no deal has been signed for him to join us. We look forward to speaking to Grant at the end of the mandatory notice period.'
It's unlikely to be any more than a waiting game now, but Lynn – and possibly Norfolk – may have seen the last of Grant Holt.