As the excitement builds for the Linnets’ National League debut, GAVIN CANEY looks at some of the key figures who are helping Lynn get ready behind the scenes.
First up, it’s stalwart secretary Norman Cesar.
“I don’t want my picture taken,” he says with a beaming smile.
Norman Cesar was easy to find. He’s even easier to talk to. But it wasn’t an easy job to convince him to be the centre of press attention.
When he was told he deserved it for being an unsung hero for committing thousands of hours of his time for free to King’s Lynn’s football club since 1999, he rolled his eyes and laughed.
“I’m just doing my job. All I’m worried about is doing the job correctly and if the club is running efficiently from a league and FA point of view I’m happy with it,” said the Linnets’ stalwart secretary.
“I’m that little bit of the jigsaw you’re always looking to find but if that little bit isn’t there the jigsaw can’t be complete. I don’t feel it’s anything big I do though. I just feel it’s a job I’m doing and if it supports the club in any way that’s great.”
A heartbroken Cesar stepped away from football after a knee operation in 1972 but rekindled his love in the Woottons youth set up, where he ended up as chairman and secretary during a 25-year tenure. Similar longevity and dedication has since been given to the Linnets, where the 72-year-old has progressed from youth team secretary to full club secretary.
It has become easier, in one sense, since he retired three years ago from an admin role at Lynn’s King Edward VII (KES) Academy. But it’s still a 30-hour a week role that sees him deal with a host of leagues, fixtures, player registrations, contracts, results submission, team sheet duties, suspensions, match recording and player profile duties for away programmes – to name just a few tasks.
“My sons have often said to me; ‘Why don’t you give it up dad, you’re old enough you should just be watching football’. But would there be a void in my life? Absolutely,” said Cesar.
“I just absolutely love football. I love King’s Lynn as it was and King’s Lynn Town as it is now and I’m dedicated to helping them in any way I can. It’s great to be part of it all, I always build a bond with the players too, and I’ve made lots of friends here and at other clubs too.”
Name: Norman Cesar
Club: King’s Lynn Town
• Joined King’s Lynn Football Club in 1999/2000 to help source ball boys for
• Became youth team and then reserve team secretary during his first season with the club. Undertook both roles until King’s Lynn folded in 2009.
• When the club was reformed for 2010/11, Cesar took up the same roles he had held when the club was wound up.
• Became full club secretary in 2012/13.
• Driving the minibus and washing and preparing kits are just some of the many other tasks he’s completed.
Volunteer to feel part of it – Cesar
Plenty of people reading this will have known Norman Cesar long before he arrived at The Walks.
For 25 years he was a pivotal part of The Woottons’ youth set-up and now he’s urging others to give something back to their local clubs.
“No sport runs without volunteers. The big thing is that if you’re thinking about getting involved, come and ask somebody,” said Cesar.
“The secretary is the one to ask. He or she will know the most and can guide you to the right person to help. For goodness sake, just don’t sit back and think ‘I don’t know how to get involved’.”
Sourcing ball boys for King’s Lynn in 1999/2000 was how it started for the friendly face of a hugely important administrative role.
He added: “There’s real enjoyment to be had from volunteering, no matter what you do, even if it is only cleaning up the rubbish.
“We’ve got people painting the grandstand and the changing rooms – how wonderful is that? It makes you feel part of a big community.”
Step up will affect all at The Walks
It’s not just King’s Lynn Town’s players who will need to raise their game in the National League.
With a higher level comes further demands for all at The Walks as they prepare to tackle life at the highest level of the non-League pyramid for the first time. The increased exposure and importance of the division, one below the Football League, will lift workloads and scrutiny across the board for all, according to Norman Cesar.
Lynn’s secretary said: “I enjoy the games – I do like to study them – but I also have to record times of yellow cards, goals and all of that has to be put through.
“It’s going to get more intense this year going into the National League. They’ll be relying on press people but also relying on the club secretary getting stuff through as early as possible.
“If you take the past few seasons; I’ll come in as soon as the half-time whistle goes. I’ll have an email prepared so all I have to do is fill in the details. I send that at half-time and do the same at full-time and then that goes off to the sports data desk at the Press Association and the leagues.”
Having been involved with Lynn for more than 20 years, the former Woottons figurehead has seen it all. The rise up to Step Two of the part-time game, the death of King’s Lynn FC, the phoenix rising from the ashes as King’s Lynn Town and now a first foray into the premier division of non-League football.
“I think the ups and downs have helped make me enjoy it even more,” said Cesar.
“The passion for me is football and Lynn. I do like non-League football. The Premier League is great to watch on a Saturday night but I do prefer non-League. I think it’s the most exciting and unpredictable.”