A Brief History of King's Lynn FC|
It is not really known when King's Lynn first had a football club that
represented the town, there is reference to a sporting event attended by the players of King's Lynn Football Club in an edition
of the newspaper The Norfolk News on Saturday 30th May 1868 so it was clearly before then and there is a further mention of the club in the
local press of 1871 but what happened after that it is not clear, only that it is said that the club was reformed in 1879 having gone out of
existence "a few years earlier".
At that time there were a number of football teams in Lynn, the most notable probably being Lynn United, Lynn CEYMS and Lynn
Alexander - the later competing in the Norfolk County Cup along with what was known as the "Town side"
in the 1881-82 season.
At one time Lynn could claim to be the centre of football in Norfolk. It was in
the Black Horse in Chapel Street, King's Lynn that the Norfolk Football
Association was formed in 1881 and prior to the arrival of professionalism in
Norwich in 1905 Lynn were regarded as probably the strongest team in the county.
The town even had its own football newspaper -The Lynn Football Star
which was published from 3 October 1903 to 23 January 1915, three copies of this
are in Lynn Museum.
In those days Lynn's colours were not always as they are now with black and white being mentioned in some newspaper
reports. The match report for the game against Cromer on 17 March 1923
says that Lynn "turned out in their new colours of old gold and royal blue" so
perhaps this was the first time the now traditional colours were adopted
although black and white stripes were re-adopted in the mid 1920's.
After the club was liquiudated in 2009 it came back into being as King's Lynn Town Football Club. This was because the FA did not allow
clubs, either reformed or "new" clubs taking the name of that which had recently gone out of business.
So it was known as King's Lynn Football Club prior to 2009.
In some Non-League directories it is suggested that the club was known as Lynn Town at one time although a team picture on 1909
show the players under a KLFC banner and mention of the club in the newspapers of the 1890s and, indeed, in 1868 call the club King's Lynn/
It might be that the term Lynn Town was just a way of referring to the town side as opposed to other football clubs in the town.
The nickname "The Linnets" seems to have been around for some time.
One club handbook suggests that the club were once called The Shrimpers
but there is no evidence of this. Newspaper reports from the 1890's used the nickname "The Lynnites" and it is probable that "The Linnets" came
from this. The earliest use of the term "The Linnets" that has been noted, so far, is in a 1908 match report.
Early league action saw Lynn play in the Norfolk & Suffolk League and,
additionally, the East Anglian League winning the former on eight occasions.
Football in those days had something of a charm to it in that the outcome was
never too certain. Indeed on more than one occasion it is recorded that the
visiting team refused to complete the match for fear of missing the train home.
It wasn't until
the 1935-36 season that Lynn changed competitions by joining the Eastern
Counties League and also the East Midlands League..
After the Second World War Lynn played in the United Counties League but on
turning professional for the 1948-49 season they moved back to the Eastern
Counties League and achieved the league and league cup double in the 1953-54
season. A brief spell in the Midland League - where they played such "Midlands
based" teams as Rotherham and Scarborough, they joined the Southern League for
the 1958-59 season.
Lynn's geographical position and the structure of the non-league competitions
has always meant a fair degree of travelling whether it be to Taunton and Poole
or Gateshead and Workington. A restructuring of the league at the end of the
1979-80 saw Lynn transferred to the Northern Premier League. This was quite a
remarkable promotion as the 79-80 season saw us finish eighth in the Midland
Division of the Southern League.
Not surprisingly the first season in the Northern Premier League was a struggle
with Lynn finishing 19th.
The following season saw a very creditable 5th followed by a 9th with the
consolation of winning the Northern Premier League President's Cup.
Unfortunately it was a trophy we were never allowed to defend as Lynn were moved
back to Southern League for the 1983-84 season.
Their return south saw them finish in sixth place and the following season they
finished runners-up, the promotion contest being decided on the last day of the
There then followed a number of very disappointing seasons with Lynn being
relegated to the Midland Division at the end of the 1986-87 season. Further
relegation might have followed but for other teams either opting for other
leagues or going out of business.
Promotion from the Southern League Eastern Division was won in the 2003-04
season but failure to win a play-off against the Western Division champions,
Redditch United, resulted in Lynn taking a place in the Southern League Premier
- which as a result on re-organisation, was just as far away from the Nationwide
Conference as before. The 2005-06, and 2006-07 seasons saw Lynn reach the
play-offs for the Conference regional leagues but once again just couldn't
achieve the final step upwards.
Then in 2007-08 Lynn achieved the success they deserved - winning the Southern
League title on the last day of the season with a 2-0 win at Merthyr Tydfil to
put them clear of second placed Team Bath by two points, and so they joined
Their time at the higher level was not to last, however. Despite finishing their
first Conference North season in 17th place the club were demoted over a ground grading issue.
The following season saw Lynn in the Northern Premier (UniBond) League but they did not finished the season - being wound up in the High Court in December 2009 owing HMRC £77,000.
After a bidding process, the Borough Council of King's Lynn and West Norfolk awarded the lease of The Walks Stadium to the company running the speedway stadium and the club was reformed as Lynn FC.
The club began life in the United Counties League with promotion being achieved to the Northern Premier League Division One (Southern) in 2012 and to the
Northern Premier League Premier Division the following season.
UP FOR THE CUP
One of the lesser known facts that might come up in a sports trivia quiz is that
Lynn are one of the most successful teams in the FA Cup. Successful, that is, in
terms of the proportion of games won compared to the number played.
Lynn's FA Cup debut came in the 1900-01 season and ended in the third qualifying
round with defeat against Luton at The Walks having accounted for Kirkley,
Harwich and Lowestoft in the previous rounds.
This must have been quite a
season for Lynn as they also reached the final of the FA Amateur Cup - possibly
typical of Lynn's luck this was before the finals were staged at Wembley. Lynn
took Crook Town to a replay but lost it 3-0.
The next notable foray in the FA Cup was in 1906 when we conceded ground
advantage and were promptly thrashed 11-0 at Aston Villa in front of a 23,000
Cup success in terms of appearances in the First Round Proper of the competition
was hard to come by prior to the Second World War although defeat in the
qualifying rounds often came at the hands of what might now be considered tough
opposition such as Shrewsbury, Southend and Stockport County.
The visit of Exeter City in the First Round Proper of the competition in the
1951-52 season saw Lynn's biggest gate of just under 13,000. Lynn were defeated
3-1 although the match reports suggest that they could have done much better had
they played as well in the first half as they did in the second when they only
had ten fit players left.
The 1959-60 season produced a the dream cup draw - Norwich against Lynn. The
only trouble was that Norwich had to win a cup replay against Reading first and
they didn't. So Lynn went to Reading in the Second Round proper and lost 2-4. It
was around this period that Lynn seemed to have got the hang of cup competitions
and this culminated in their only appearance in the Third Round Proper where
they bowed out to Everton at Goodison Park in front of a crowd of 44,916 which
earned them a cheque for £4,300. On route to Goodison, Lynn overcame Coventry
City which resulted in the departure of the Coventry manager who was replaced by
a certain Mr Jimmy Hill. Had it not been for Lynn's cup exploits, it can be
claimed, Jimmy Hill might never have become the household name he is today.
(KLFC have much to answer for!)
History was made in the 2006-07 season when Lynn reached the Second Round Proper
of the competition and were drawn at home to League One Club Oldham Athletic.
This match was chosen by Sky Sports to be broadcast live whilst BBC Radio Five
gave second half football commentary. In addition to reaching an international
audience the club received £75,000 from SKY and £4,500 from the BBC although
some of this had to be spent on ground improvements in order to get the capacity
raised to 5,733.
Away from the FA Cup Lynn have regularly picked up the Norfolk Senior Cup and
have had successes in the East Anglian Cup although in recent seasons they have
declined to compete. The FA Trophy and FA Vase runs have invariably been a
disappointment although the semi-final of the latter was reached in 2010.
It seems that football has been played at The Walks since the club was formed in
1879. Newspaper cuttings give us some hints as to the history of how it
progressed from a field to a football ground. The Eastern Daily Press of October
1892 tells us that it is no longer possible to witness games without paying
admission as "Huge canvas screens have been erected, and the playing portion of
the field is now fully wired in." By 1893 there seems to have been some
sort of segregation - season tickets cost 2 shillings for admission to the north
and east sides of the ground and double that for the south and west sides. In
September 1896 it is reported that a covered stand was used for the first time,
possibly the stand that was in such a bad state of repair by 1905 that it had to
be demolished. A sum of £250 was borrowed and builder William Smith was employed
to build a wooden grandstand one hundred feet long and capable of seating five
hundred. This debt was paid off by virtue of the visit to Aston Villa the
following year in the FA (then English) Cup. This was almost certainly one of
the reasons why Lynn switched the tie from the Walks to Villa Park. The deal
being £250 plus a percentage of the gate over a certain figure. As a result of
the cup tie Lynn eventually received £264 16s 4d (for younger people who do not
understand this kind of money please ask your parents - or maybe grandparents ).
The ends of the ground have been referred to by different names over the years -
the one to the east being Tennyson Road or the workhouse/poor house end and the
other the Walks/Hospital/Seven Sisters end. The hospital is now long gone - the
Seven Sisters refer to seven lime trees that are planted at that end of the
ground back in 1760. Over the years these have been replaced and at one stage
were just seven flower beds. Some reports describe Lynn as "kicking down the
slope", one assumes towards the Seven Sisters - it is not clear when the ground
In July 2016 it was announced that the Hospital/Seven Sisters end of the ground was to be known as
the "Mick Wright End" in honour of former Lynn's former midfielder who made a record setting
1152 appearances for the club.
It was the Supporters' Club who are largely responsible for the ground as it
When the club became professional in 1948 it became the ambition of the
Supporters Club to build a new stand together with offices for officials,
dressing rooms, canteen and gymnasium. A reserve fund for the project was opened
in 1950 and stood at £500. By the end of the 1954 season, however, the club had
debts of £2,600. The Supporters' Club rose to the challenge, and whilst
attempting to clear the club's debts erected concrete terracing and shelter to
accommodate four thousand people with seating for seven hundred and eighty on
the north side of the ground. (The 780 seats, incidentally, were later sold to
Hereford United on their promotion to the Football League). On completion of the
North Stand the supporters turned their attention back to the original project
and in May 1955 the club announced that it had sold the now 50 year old stand to
a Spalding firm and had received planning permission for a new stand made of
brick and steel which would be over 200 feet long with seating for 1,400 and a
front enclosure for a further 3,000. The plan was to have a ground that could
provide covered accommodation for 8,000. In August 1956 that aim was realised.
On Saturday 18 August 1956 the new grandstand was opened by Mr Arthur Drewry,
the Chairman of the Football Association and President of FIFA. The stand cost
£27,000 to build and a crowd of over six thousand attended the opening and the
Midland League game that followed (a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Rotherham
The FA Cup run culminating in the visit to Everton was probably one of the few
bright spots in the 1960s as the club struggled against debt. In the early
months of 1960 the club was wound up and restarted as a limited company and
almost immediately a "Save the Linnets" fund was launched - the target being
£5,000 that was needed to see the club finish the season. Finances have, in
effect, dominated the fortunes of the club ever since and therefore the changes
to the ground have been more modest.
Floodlights were installed and switched on for the first competitive match on
September 25 1963 when a crowd of 2,391 watched Lynn defeat Cambridge City in
the first leg of the Culey Festival Cup. (This was not the first time that a
match had been played at The Walks under "lights". On 15 September
1893 Lynn entertained Wisbech in what was known as the "Electric Light
match" and lost 5-1.)
Since the early 1960s it has been a process of improving and replacing as
required. The floodlights have been replaced, the interior refurbished, the
terraces improved, in fact all that has needed to be done has been done and in
the spring of 1997 the ground passed inspection for entry to the Conference.
In helping the club carry out the necessary work to the ground it was reported
that King's Lynn & West Norfolk Council didn't feel that The Walks was an ideal
place in the town for a Conference club.
With ever changing Health & Safety regulations and revised standards the
capacity of The Walks was often revised downwards. In January 2000, the council
and the club both contributed £8,000 in order that the safety capacity of the
ground could be raised from three to four thousand.
The summer of 2007 saw the roof of the grandstand and the seating replaced as
part of a £350,000 project. The plans to renovate the 50-year-old stand were
announced after securing a £150,000 grant from the Football Foundation's
'Football Stadia Improvement Fund' (FSIF) in a successful joint bid with
partners West Norfolk council.
Council officials had already earmarked £200,000 of capital funding towards the
project. More work took place than anticipated as during the roof replacement
work rainwater damaged the rooms below and these were totally refurbished.
The stadium, however, did not meet the standard required of the Conference North
in respect of the size of the changing rooms, the number of turnstiles and the
lux of the floodlights which resulted in the club's demotion in 2009.
The floodlights were subsequently upgraded to football league standard.
This version July 2016 © Richard Clayton