Joe Gascoigne, with his parents, signs his professional forms.

FOOTBALL: The last week has seen the back and front pages of the national newspapers dominated by Emma Raducanu’s brilliant US Women’s tennis championship victory, writes Mark Hearle.

The youngster’s amazing victory, after having to qualify for the main part of the tournament for a week and also not dropping a single set to an opponent in that time, really does take some believing.

I can only imagine the amount of companies now wanting endorsements and offering large sponsorship packages on the back of that unexpected success.

There have been numerous TV reports from tennis clubs up and down the country reporting a surge in the number of youngsters all wanting to be the next Raducanu.

Many of course will fall by the wayside or, bluntly, will not be good enough for elite sport.

Some though will come through and go on to play as a professional, following years of hard work, effort and determination to reach the top, That all links nicely to a West Norfolk youngster who is beginning to make his mark in his chosen profession .

The man in question is Joe Gascoigne, who signed his first professional contract with King’s Lynn Town in the week.

Joe is a mere 19 years of age but the lad has made great strides at The Walks in the last nine or 10 months and has made himself a regular in manager Ian Culverhouse’s first-team squad this season.

His determination and hard work has never been in question and on a personal level it has been a pleasure for myself to see his progression from the club’s youth and reserve teams to his position in the first time.

He is also a great example of what can be achieved if you put the hours in and make a sacrifice or two along the way to reach the targets you have set yourself.

Of course Joe will know that this is just the start for him and even more work lies ahead as he strives to reach his next target of becoming a first-team regular.

I hope that he does go on and reach that next target, for a number of reasons.

The academic link up with the KES Academy continues to grow and has just began its second academic year.

Head of academy Joe Simpson, along with the likes of former Linnets Ross McNeill and Danny Gay, who both now instruct PE at the academy, and others, are doing a great job in nurturing the best from the young people enrolled on the course, both in football and academically as well.

When they see the likes of Joe in and around the club’s first team, it can only provide them with more motivation to achieve their aims and define the pathway they may wish to take in the future.

King’s Lynn supporters love a local player in their team, as the likes of Michael Clunan, Jack Defty and Ryan Fryatt to name three, will testify over the years.

It always seems to create an extra affiliation between supporters and the team as a whole if a local or two are involved.

I have always felt it important that the side has a local representation in it and it’s a link that has to be extended into the seasons that are ahead.

I will be monitoring the progress of the Linnet’s own Gascoigne with great interest.


Attacking options are a concern

FOOTBALL: The Linnets are still searching for their first home win of the season following a 2-1 defeat by National League pace-setters Dagenham & Redbridge last weekend. 

Despite playing some outstanding football, especially in the opening 45 minutes, Lynn were unable to get themselves the lead their play deserved and conceded at the start of the second half. 

The visitors got a late second before an even later own goal broke the home team’s duck but alas there was no further drama as the Daggers returned home with maximum points.

It appears the Linnets have cured their leaky defence from the previous season but are now struggling to find the target at the other end of the field.

The manager’s situation hasn’t been helped by Junior Morias’s three-match suspension and Gold Omotoya’s injury, which looks set to keep him out of action for the next few weeks at least. 

Some have called for the club to bring in another striker to fill the gap but you have to ask the question can the club afford to do that at this time? 

The answer is ‘probably not’, especially after a crowd of around the 850 mark were in attendance to witness Saturday’s match. 

I think the club just may have to dig in and tough this situation out. 

With the game at Altrincham falling foul of a Covid case in the home team and a spare weekend coming up because of the uneven number of teams in the National League this season, both management and players will have a long period to prepare for the visit of Wealdstone a week tomorrow. 

Of course that match is not a ‘must win’ situation but three points would certainly help provide all at the club with a spring in their step, not to mention the supporters, who are keen to see a maximum haul of home points sooner rather than later.