|Nickname(s) The Poppies|
Chairman Ritchie Jeune
Manager Marcus Law
|Ground Capacity 2,400|
Arena/Stadium Latimer Park
|Full name Kettering Town Football Club|
Ground Latimer Park, Burton Latimer, Kettering (Groundshare at Burton Park Wanderers F.C.)
2015–16 Southern League Premier Division, 6th
League Southern Football League Division One Midlands
Kettering Town Football Club is an English football club originating in Kettering, Northamptonshire but currently based in the town of Burton Latimer. The club participates in the Southern League Premier Division, the seventh tier of English football. Kettering were the first British team to wear sponsorship upon their shirts in 1976, the first club to have their initials in their floodlights at their Rockingham Road ground, and are also the leading FA Cup goalscorers of all time.
Kettering Town were originally formed in 1872, turning professional in 1891. The club graduated through twelve different leagues from 1892 until they became founding members of the Alliance Premier League in 1979. The club maintained its status in the top flight of semi-professional football until the 2000–01 season.
Many honours have found their way to Rockingham Road, winning the Midland Football League title in 1896 and 1900. The Southern League Championship was won on three occasions by the club, in 1928 and 1957 under Tommy Lawton and in 1973 under the guidance of Ron Atkinson. In the 1930s the club won the East Midlands League and in 1948 the Poppies became Birmingham League Champions.
During the 1970s, Kettering Town sought election to the Football League, coming five votes short of election in 1974.
In a Southern League game against Bath City on 24 January 1976, Kettering became the first British club to play with a sponsor's name printed on their shirts after signing a deal with local firm Kettering Tyres. The deal was brokered by chief executive and manager Derek Dougan. Four days later, The Football Association ordered the club to remove the slogan, but Dougan changed the words on the shirts to "Kettering T", and claimed that the T stood for "Town". Nonetheless, the FA ordered the club to remove the words, which the club did due to the threat of a £1,000 fine. Shirt sponsorship was eventually permitted within the English game in 1977, although the ban on shirt sponsors in televised games wasn't lifted until 1983. Kettering are also the first ever British team to have their initials on their ground's floodlights.
The club finished runners-up in the Football Conference in 1981, 1989, 1994 and 1998. The GMAC Cup was won in 1987 and the Poppies were runners-up in 1995, then known as the Bob Lord Trophy. County competitions have been won regularly by Kettering Town, with the Northants Senior Cup won on 28 occasions and the Maunsell Cup 13 times.
The FA Cup has brought success and publicity to Rockingham Road with the first round proper being reached on 41 occasions. In 1901 the club reached the last sixteen and in more modern times the Poppies reached the fourth round proper in the 1988–89 season and also the third round in 1991–92 only to lose to Kenny Dalglish's Blackburn Rovers. During the 1994–95 season the club made their debut live on Sky TV in a first round tie against Plymouth Argyle, soon followed by another appearance against Wrexham at Rockingham Road. As of 2016 the Poppies had scored more goals than any other team in the FA Cups history, with 870 goals scored in 381 appearances.
Wembley has been reached on two occasions before. The Poppies lost 2–0 to Stafford Rangers in the 1979 FA Trophy Final. More recently, the FA Trophy Final in 2000 saw the Poppies lose a closely fought final with Kingstonian 3–2. Most recently, the club were narrowly relegated on the last day of the 2000–01 season which ended 30 years in the top flight of non-league football. The Poppies made a quick return to the Conference in the 2001/02 season winning the Southern Football League with a last-day victory at Tiverton Town under Carl Shutt – his first full season in charge.
The following season was a major disappointment and the club, rarely out of the bottom three, were again demoted – this time to the Isthmian League. Carl Shutt left the club in April 2003 and Dominic Genovese, after a short period as acting manager, took over the reins.
After a poor run of home results and a disappointing defeat to Boreham Wood in the FA Cup Dominic Genovese was replaced by former Northampton Town manager, Kevin Wilson. Changes to the team were made and the club finished the season on a 12-game unbeaten run. Ninth place was enough for the club to return to the Conference albeit in one of the two new feeder leagues – the Conference North.
Wilson nearly led his charges to promotion in the first season of the new North division. A late spurt saw the Poppies into the play-offs, but an own goal from club legend Martin Matthews meant that Altrincham prevailed 3–2 in the regional final.
Season 2005–06 was to be one of massive change at Rockingham Road. In October 2005 it was announced that long-serving chairman Peter Mallinger was to hand over the reins to a consortium consisting of Imraan Ladak, Mick Leech and England legend Paul Gascoigne. Gascoigne was installed as manager, replacing Kevin Wilson, and ex-Arsenal stalwart Paul Davis was recruited as assistant manager.
The eyes of the world were on Gascoigne and the Poppies, and media interest was massive. However, for a variety of reasons, Gascoigne was only to remain in the job for thirty-nine days. Kevin Wilson was given his old job back, but only held onto it for two months as a run of one win in twelve games saw the Poppies slump into the bottom half of Conference North.
In February 2006, Morell Maison was appointed Kettering Town manager, and led the team to 6th place in Conference North, after a run of seven wins in the last eight games. An announcement was made in May 2006 that the playing staff for 2006–07 would be full-time, and that six new signings had been made. These included Darren Caskey from neighbours Rushden & Diamonds. The ambition was there for all to see, but after a rollercoaster of a season, saw the Poppies fall behind eventual champions Droylsden, with Maison sacked with just two games to go.
Caretaker manager Graham Westley was brought in to oversee the final conclusion of the season, that saw defeat via penalties to Farsley Celtic in the play-off semi-final. Westley left the club.
Chairman Imraan Ladak installed former Tamworth manager Mark Cooper as the new Kettering Town manager for the 2007–08 campaign. The club finished the season as Conference North champions, breaking several records along the way (including seven consecutive wins at the start of the season, 29 wins overall, and a divisional record of 87 points). As a result, the club was promoted to the Conference National.
In the 2008–09 season, Kettering Town beat Lincoln City, Notts County and Eastwood Town to reach the fourth round of the FA Cup, where they faced Fulham at home. While twice pulling even with the Premier League squad and looking like they could possibly produce a draw late in the 2nd half, they gave up two goals and ultimately lost the spirited match, 4–2.
Over the summer of 2009 Kettering released long-serving midfielder Brett Solkhon who later went on to sign for Corby Town. However, Poppies manager Mark Cooper has added to his squad by bringing in Lee Fowler from Forest Green Rovers as well as young, ex-Northampton defender Greg Taylor.
The Poppies also did well in the FA Cup in the 2009/10 season, having drawn 1–1 to Leeds United at home on 29 November 2009, live on ITV. Kettering replayed the match at Leeds' stadium Elland Road and after a valiant effort in normal time, the ninety minutes ended 1–1. The score stayed equal throughout the first half of added time; however, Leeds scored twice in one minute in the second half and then scored another two goals. The game ended 5–1 to the home side. Leeds went on to play Manchester United at Old Trafford and caused an upset by winning 1–0. Assistant manager John Deehan was sacked after the game and player/manager Lee Harper considered his own future as a result, but decided to stay on. Kettering chairman Imraan Ladak said he sacked Deehan due to putting on Lee Fowler for Patrick Noubissié. He seemingly blamed Fowler for the loss and questioned his commitment to Kettering.
Harper led the team to a decent 6th-place finish at the end of the season, missing out on the play-offs by only one place, but resigned after the club suffered a poor start to the following season, leaving them in danger of relegation. Marcus Law succeeded Harper and led the club to safety and a 15th-place finish, but resigned himself when the season ended and took over as manager of Tamworth. That summer, the club re-appointed former manager Morrell Maison, who resigned barely a month into the season after the club made a dreadful start. Mark Stimson came in as Maison's replacement and initially improved the team's form, but a financial crisis began to take hold at the club, resulting in Stimson having to release players as the campaign went on, and form deteriorating significantly. He eventually resigned just after the turn of the year, feeling unable to work under the financial restraints, and was replaced by another former manager, Mark Cooper. After one game though, Mark Cooper decided to step down as manager due to players not being paid. Later that week former Poppies defender Ashley Westwood was appointed manager until the end of the season.
In November 2011, Kettering Town were unable to pay its players full wages. As a result, a number of players did not turn up for training. In February 2012 George Rolls took the club over from Imraan Ladak, and although Rolls wasn't officially Kettering Town owner he was involved in the day-to-day running of the club. On 7 April Kettering's relegation from the Conference National was confirmed after a 3–0 home defeat to Mansfield. Following weeks of low season ticket sales in May 2012, Rolls called a fans forum where he revealed that debts at the club have reached £1.2 million and the club would enter into a CVA agreement which would involve a league demotion to the Southern Football League, and a points deduction of ten points as punishment for entering the CVA. It would also see the Transfer Embargo put on the club lifted in time for the 2012–13 season. On 6 June 2012, George Rolls was suspended from football for five years after breaches of Football Association betting laws were proven. Rolls was also fined £10,000, and therefore abandoned his role at the club. Local Northamptonshire businessman, Ritchie Jeune took over the reigns as acting chairman, with considerable support from the Supporters Trust.
On 6 October 2012, it seemed that events had reached a natural conclusion, when a crowd of 304 witnessed the club fall to a 7–0 defeat against Bashley. Chief Scout, Alan Doyle had taken temporary charge after John Beck was asked to step aside prior to the clubs 3–0 defeat to Concord Rangers in the FA Trophy First Qualifying Round. The club could only field ten men, and despite holding Bashley to one goal in the first half, crumbled in the second, letting in a further six. This was followed by a prolonged period when the team could not fulfill their fixtures due to not having enough registered players. Eventually the team were able to play again, resuming their fixtures with virtually a completely new squad in a narrow 1–0 home loss against Redditch United, on 10 November. As the club battled to stay alive, on the pitch the team continued to struggle, using a multitude of players, and despite the valiant efforts of manager Thomas Baillie, who was appointed manager in February 2013, the club was relegated to the Southern League Division One Central. The club saw the season out ground sharing at Steel Park, home of Corby Town, and played their final home game of the 2012–13 against Gosport Borough, in front of an attendance of 568, which demonstrated the support for the club was still there.
On 2 May 2013, the club appointed former Hinckley United manager Dean Thomas as manager. Thomas had been Baillie's assistant towards the latter part of the 2012–13 season, and the roles were reversed as the pair applied as a team for the role. Alan Doyle moved upstairs to take on a Director of Football role. Upon his appointment, the fans were cautiously optimistic that the clubs fortunes were shifting, and their best hopes were realised on 28 June, when Ritchie Jeune finally signed an agreement to takeover the management of Kettering Town from Imraan Ladak, and agreed a deal to move the club from Nene Park to ground share with Burton Park Wanderers at their Latimer Park ground. The club had finally returned to the borough of Kettering. On 2 September 2013, it was announced that the club had been issued with a winding-up order, due to debts of around £58,000 in unpaid rent during their tenure at Nene Park. Following a fundraising campaign by the club, thanks to large donations from the Kettering fanbase, Supporters Trust and the wider footballing community the club overcame the winding up order and paid off the debt enabling Kettering Town Football Club to extend its 141-year history.
After an initial poor start to the season 2013–14 as the board was very much focused on cementing the long-term survival of the club, following the seeing off of the winding up order the club could finally just focus on the football side once more. Thomas moved fast to strengthen the squad, and the team kickstarted its season with a record breaking 21 game unbeaten run. This propelled the team up the table, and confirmed a play-off place on 21 April with a 2–0 home victory against Northamptonshire rivals Daventry Town, in front of the highest league attendance of the season of 1228. The Poppies finished third in the table, a commendable feat considering the club nearly went out of existence just six months earlier. This rewarded them with a home play-off tie against Daventry, which they were victorious in thanks to a second minute Henry Eze goal. This completed a remarkable April 2014 for the club, in which they played 10 games, recording 10 wins. They moved onwards to the play-off final, for which they would also have home advantage, against Slough Town. There was huge interest in the game from the local population: the club recorded a record gate for their Latimer Park home, with the gates having to be closed. The attendance was stated as 2331. The game was a rollercoaster ride for the Poppies, as they raced in to a 2–0 lead, with goals from Chris Logan and Henry Eze. However, Slough produced an incredible fightback, with three second half goals to gain promotion to the Southern League Premier Division. This ended an excellent season for the Poppies in heartbreak, although ultimately the club's survival was always the main aim.
On 24 May 2014, it was announced that manager Dean Thomas had stepped down as team manager. It was confirmed later in the week that former player, and club legend, Brett Solkhon had returned to the club for the 2014–15 season. Alongside this new signing, the Poppies managed to retain 10 of the play off final starting XI, with the exception of Elliot Sandy, who moved to Dunstable Town. In early June, Kettering appointed former assistant Thomas Baillie and coach Scott Machin as joint managers of the Reds. This was a first for the club. On 4 April 2015, Kettering won the Southern League Division 1 Central title at Rugby Town, with an estimated 850-1000 Poppies fans in attendance. Kettering lost 3-0, but their nearest title challengers, Aylesbury F.C. drew 0-0 with Aylesbury United FC in the 'El Quackico', consequently making it mathematically impossible for the Moles to match Kettering's points tally.
There was a managerial change post-season, with Thomas Baillie and Scott Machin stepping aside, and Marcus Law was appointed, a manager who Solkhon had previously worked under. To the relief of Kettering fans, Solkhon agreed to stay on for the forthcoming season 2015-16, alongside Gary Mulligan, Jamie McAlindon, Steve Kinniburgh, Elliot Sandy, Dubi Ogbonna and Andy Gooding. Leaving was Richard Knight, Josh Moreman, James Jepson, David Kolodynski, James Clifton, Andy Hall, Jason Lee, Tommy Hull, Ash Robinson and Jonothan Thorpe.
Between 1897 and 2011 they played at Rockingham Road, after spells at North Park and Eldreds Field. However, from 1992 onwards, the club only rented the stadium from their landlord after selling the ground to help save the club from extinction. Subsequently, the lease was always a ticking time bomb for the club. Chairman Imraan Ladak stated the club's intention to return to a new ground in Kettering. However, following the collapse of these plans, in June 2011, it was announced that Kettering had reached an agreement with the owners of Nene Park, the home of former local rivals Rushden & Diamonds, to secure a lease on the ground that would potentially secure the club's future.
Following further financial troubles caused by the expense of Nene Park, the club moved to Steel Park, Corby in late 2012. The expenditure of Nene Park was too great to sustain a non-league football team and with unpaid bills the electricity was finally turned off at Nene Park.
The club came to an agreement with Burton Park Wanderers to ground share for the start of the 2013/14 season securing the survival of the club. Home games are now played at Latimer Park, Burton Latimer, Kettering. The club have agreed a five-year deal to stay at the ground with their landlords, whilst they seek a permanent home in the town of Kettering. During this period, Kettering are developing Latimer Park. In July 2014, the club announced that they were seeking a possible return to Kettering at the former Avondale School site. However the site was utilized for a housing development.
PlayersAs of 27 July 2014.
Updated 20 March 2016. Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Supporters' Player of the Year
2006 – Mark Osborn.
2007 – Rene Howe.
2008 – John Dempster.
2009 – Lee Harper.
2010 – John Dempster.
2011 – Marcus Kelly.
2012 – Sol Davis.
2013 – Henry Eze.
2014 – Henry Eze.
2015 - Brett Solkhon
For a list of all Kettering Town players with a Wikipedia article, see Category:Kettering Town F.C. players
† Joint winners with Desborough Town