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King’s Lynn appoint ex-Southampton, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Port Vale player as manager

King’s Lynn Town appoint ex-Southampton, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Port Vale player Tommy Widdrington as their new manager, the club confirm.

He comes in to replace Ian Culverhouse, who parted company with the National League strugglers in late November with a relegation battle potentially on their hands.

They currently sit 22nd in the top tier of non league football, picking up just eight points from 17 games played and are 7 points from safety.

CLUB STATEMENT:

King’s Lynn Town FC are delighted to announce that Tommy Widdrington will be their manager with immediate effect. The Club can confirm that Tommy met with the players today and has already spoken with the press. A full recording of the press conference will be available on our YouTube channel later this evening.

Tommy, who was recently a Director at Bristol Rovers made his name as a midfielder, he made 372 appearances in the English Football League in a 15-year career, before spending five years in non-league football. His career began at Southampton in 1990, where he spent the first six years of his career. In 1996, he moved to Grimsby Town, helping the “Mariners” to the League Trophy and promotion out of the Second Division in 1998. The next year he moved on to Port Vale for a two-year spell. Voted the club’s Player of the Year in 2000, he captained the “Valiants” to the League Trophy in 2001. Later in the year he was transferred to Hartlepool United, helping the club to win promotion out of League Two in 2002–03, before he moved on to Macclesfield Town. In 2005 his career in the Football League ended back at Port Vale. He then spent 2005 to 2010 at non-league Salisbury City. As a player, he enjoyed promotion four times with three clubs, and lifted the Football League Trophy twice.

He was player-manager at Salisbury City for the 2009–10 season, then assistant manager at Southend, managed Hemel Hempstead Town before taking charge at Eastbourne Borough in February 2012. He left Eastbourne Borough in April 2017 and went on to work as head of recruitment at Coventry City and Bristol Rovers, before becoming caretaker-manager at Bristol Rovers in November 2020.

– STATEMENT ENDS –

“It’s happened very, very quickly and I’m delighted,” admitted Lynn’s boss (who is the father of Strictly pro Kai Widdrington) after being unveiled this afternoon.

“It’s a part of me that I haven’t been doing a lot of in recent history but it’s something I’m comfortable doing.

“I’ve managed football clubs, I’ve managed managers to manager football clubs, and I’ve sometimes not quite managed managers to manage football clubs well enough, but I think as long as there’s a clear pathway between the top of the club through the football department, I can’t see why the way I do things won’t work here.

“We’ve got to get above two teams, we haven’t got to win the league,” said Widdrington.

“That’s my sole thinking. At this moment in time I don’t care who the other two teams are, all I want to do is get King’s Lynn above two teams and above that horrible dotted line.

“You won’t hear me mention that word begins with an ‘R’ I want to be talking about progress beginning with a ‘P’

“Let’s forget about what’s gone on and where we are, and it’s going to be hard, it’s not, it’s going to be about work-in progress from day one for me.

“The games are going to come thick and fast and one thing I do know is, my Mrs is going to have to change her Christmas plans because I wasn’t planning on going to Halifax on Tuesday night and Grimsby on December 28.”

PLAYING CAREER:

Youth career
Wallsend Boys Club
1987–1990 – Southampton

Senior career
1990–1996 – Southampton – 75 games (3 goals)
1991 → Wigan Athletic (loan) – 6 games (0 goals)
1996–1999 – Grimsby Town – 89 games (8 goals)
1999 → Port Vale (loan) – 9 games (1 goal)
1999–2001 – Port Vale – 73 games (7 goals)
2001–2003 – Hartlepool United – 56 games (5 goals)
2003–2005 – Macclesfield Town – 58 games (0 goals)
2005 – Port Vale – 6 games (0 goals)
2005–2010 – Salisbury City – 46 games (2 goals)
Total – 418 games (26 goals)

Teams managed
2009–2010 – Salisbury City
2011–2012 – Hemel Hempstead Town
2012–2017 – Eastbourne Borough
2020 – Bristol Rovers (caretaker)
2021 – Bristol Rovers (caretaker)

Honours

Player

Grimsby Town
Football League Second Division playoffs: 1998
Football League Trophy: 1998

Port Vale
Football League Trophy: 2001

Hartlepool United
League Two runners up: 2002–03

Salisbury City
Southern Football League Premier Division: 2005–06
Conference South playoffs: 2007

Manager
Eastbourne Borough

Sussex Senior Challenge Cup: 2016

Individual
Port Vale Player of the Year: 2000
Conference National Manager of the Month: April 2010 (Salisbury City)
Conference South Manager of the Month: August 2013, August 2014 (Eastbourne Borough)

Twitter users reacted as King’s Lynn appoint the ex-Southampton, Grimsby, Hartlepool, Port Vale player as manager…

@McSauce1883: Unlucky Kings Lynn

@Aaronrutter9: Cleeve dressed like a American car sales person

@BRoversCentral: 😂😂😂

@BRFClewis: Down down down down

@dkl5341: Good luck – Actually thought he should have taken on the management of the team he recruited at Rovers — but didn’t seem to want to… odd!!!

@charlie__BRFC: So out

@BRFClewis: Population of Coventry about to rinsed.

@callumweeks7: Out

@JJohnson9193: Ohhhh Tommy Tommy…

@FeeneySeanD: Fresh start! 🔥🔥

@Lux_FN_: Oh… my… god.
This appointment is ridiculous.
He hasn’t managed a first team side since Eastbourne in 2017.

@youngsie_1987: He looks like he’s doing a press conference to get his family released from a Thai prison and Cleeve is his Solicitor lol Good luck Tommy 💪

@tjd01_: Yeah, they’re going down.

@SteveyAsp: Danny Searle must have been over qualified 🤣🤣

@LFarrow00: The great escape incoming

@lewisc___ : Looks like a scene from Only Fools & Horses

@Alfiebiggs: Wow. Wasn’t expecting this sort of next step.

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