Saturday, 22 December 2012


If nothing else came out of the Trust get together at the Police Club last week we were all given an obvious choice.  Support our club while we have one, or let it fade away.  With Imraan seemingly concentrating solely on keeping Cousins happy, and his own thumbs unbroken, we have a curious situation where the club is being run almost entirely separate from the Club Chairman.

Richie made it clear that the club currently playing out of Steal Park has nothing to do with Imraan, and all the money generated on matchdays from entrance fees, programmes, Klondikes, and even a percentage of the kiosk sales goes towards keeping our club playing.  This is augmented by the sponsorship from Richie's own company.  Along with Ken, The Trust, and various others, Richie is keeping our club's faint pulse still beating.  It is ironic that it has taken for us to teeter on the brink of existence to have finally the unearthed the "Chairman" we've always sought.

As we have finally registered a positive points total on the Southern League table we are all again faced with the decision that has fragmented further our historically splintered support - do we go and watch our football team?

We now seem to have more more factions than fans!  There's the ones who called it a day when we were dragged to Non Park.  The ones we lost when it became clear that not only had we been ripped from Kettering, but we were going to have a season long struggle.  The ones who won't watch their own team play at such a low level.  The ones that refuse to acknowledge the club's existence whilst Imraan's still involved.  The handful that have thrown the Poppies over for the Red Tights.  There's the Poppynetters who spend most of the time looking to get banned, or complaining about cliches (the members of which change almost hourly, depending on who has taken the hump first in any discussion!)  And then there's the angry Poppytalkers who have nothing but negativity and accusations for everyone.  And, of course, the majority of lost fans who have silently slipped away and have probably found other non-Poppy activities to do on their weekends.

One thing is clear.  If the Poppies come to an end there is no chance of a Phoenix club rising from such scattered ashes.  Between us we have the organisational ability of porridge.  We have the get up and go of cold tea.  Say what you like about the Scum and their soulless supporters.  But they stuck together to create a club from the Direones' death.  What have we done in a similar position?  Whilst a handful try to save the club, the majority can only bicker and argue.

Whilst we continue to play, and specifically play away from Non Park, surely we should make one last effort to show that being a Poppies fan is more than just being a self-centred, misery guts, happy to rattle the crushingly heavy chains of our 140 years of history, but flippantly prepared to forgo any chance of a future?

Is it time to try being positive for a change?  While we have the chance.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Golden Gordon Livesey?

If life as a Poppies fan feels like an endless bad dream, it’s shaping up to be perfect material for a classic sporting film story. Consider the ingredients: A team so hopelessly bad that no one watches them any more, an uncaring owner who wants to build houses on the ground, and the club’s days seemingly numbered.

In Hollywood, this tale would be turned into a feelgood movie possibly starring Vince Vaughn as the plucky coach with a heart of gold who somehow turns it around and the team end up winning the pennant while he gets to boff Amy Adams in the final reel.  Here, the screen version already exists, except it stars Michael Palin and will be familiar to anyone who knows the name Barnstoneworth United.

The Ripping Yarns episode Golden Gordon was Palin mining the comedy gold of an atrociously poor non league team that only a complete loser would continue to support. Ha ha! We're laughing already.

Each week, Palin’s character Gordon returns home to his small terraced house after another thumping defeat (“Eight – bloody - one!”) and smashes up furniture. Ho ho, imagine that.  We get back from Gosport and announce the end of the world, again, on Poppynet. With nothing left to cheer about, he lives in the past, testing his son to name the classic winning line up of 1922. We only need to go back as far as 2008/09. Finally, after it has been announced that the club is to fold, he has the idea of reuniting that golden 1922 side for one final game, the team wins, he goes home and – in joy - smashes up his remaining possessions. At the moment we’d settle for reuniting OUR famous 1922 side.

If Palin or indeed anyone else fancies making an updated version, I’m sure Corby Town would be happy to provide location facilities for a modest sum, and there are approximately 250 potential extras for the crowd shots (at the time of writing). As for the returning golden oldies, does anyone have Gordon Livesey’s phone number?

"Seven - bloody - nil!"

Saturday, 15 December 2012


Spending more time in Corby these days than any self-respecting Kettering resident should, something occurred to me last Sunday, which I thought I'd share.  By "self-respecting" I'm obviously ruling out anyone from Kettering who ventures over to Corby on a weekly basis solely to stock up on £3.95 jeans from Primark, which were sewn together by blind leper children in some third world sweat-shop.  Perhaps if they weren't blind lepers they might have done a better job and the clothing might at least last more than a fortnight!

We took a slightly more convoluted route to Steal Park so that 'er indoors could drop off some Christmas cards in Corby.  This meant we drove around unfamiliar areas where it is not unknown for the populace to wear footballing-based leisure clothing extolling the virtues of a couple of clubs from north of the border.  I saw a young lad with a backpack bearing the legend "Rangers".  Poor sod, I thought, recalling their traumatic summer of relegation, when the rest of Scottish football took the long awaited opportunity to give at least one of the Glasgow based behemoths a long overdue kicking.  Suddenly, from being Premier League, and Champions League wanabees the blue half of Glasgow were rubbing shoulders with the footballing superpowers from Elgin, Stirling, Annan (?) and Stirling in the Scottish Third Division.  One of my only memories of this division was noticing once, after a particularly good attendance at Rocky Road, that all of the attendances in that division were less than entered the turnstiles on the Brittania Road terrace!

Then, just as I started to feel sorry for the pipe-playing proddies I remembered where the Poppies were playing, what division they were playing in, and why.  Suddenly I felt more sorry for us than them!

But, thought I, what if you supported both Poppies and Rangers?  Not beyond the realms of possibility for a local footie fan.  What kind of s*it summer did they experience?  Our summer was pretty cruddy, and only just about rescued by the Jubilee and Olympics!  But for a joint Poppies/Rangers fan - jeez! 

Between your two teams you'd seen a drop of no less than FIVE divisions and runs up debts of £135.2 million.  £134 million of which belonged to Rangers and supposedly £1.2 million by us, although this figure probably includes Roll's phantom loans and Imraan's "investment" which he writes off every other month, before reinstating them again when a possible buyer for the club appears!

It's enough to turn you into a Rugby fan! 


Monday, 10 December 2012

It's just another 3 points...

Well what did you expect? We always beat Chesham United. Admittedly not a massive statistical albatross for the boys from deepest Bucks, none of whom had even the slightest knowledge of our pre-season win in 1993 or even the cup clash seven years later – but we remembered and expected nothing less than... well actually, probably another 3 or 4 nil defeat. After all, recent results did not inspire a huge amount of confidence.

So the game began in front of a paltry crowd, probably our smallest for a league match since the telephone was invented.  In a touching pre-match ceremony, returning legend Pat Noubissie took the mantle of ‘Mr Kettering’ from a kid who first donned a Poppies shirt all of a month ago. In his previous spell in red, Pat had never felt so welcome, but then we were never this desperate for a returning old face, especially one with the ability to pick out Andre Boucard with a 4 yard square pass.

Inspired by Pat, the boys took an early lead. At that point I checked my watch, noting it was 4 minutes on the clock, plus 8 months, since I last saw us score a goal. Then something even rarer happened. We scored again. The lad in the no.7 shirt, Michael King I later found out, curled in an absolute beauty from way out. Then Pat went close and others too before Chesham pulled one back. Thus ended a first half which we had actually dominated.

During the interval it seemed a fair bet that the Chesham manager would be reminding his flock in no uncertain terms that they were playing a bunch of pimply youths and if they failed to turn it around they would be walking home.

Maybe he did. Maybe they had their earphones in. Either way, soon it was 3-1 and another goal that suggested that this team could be worth watching and not just out of blind loyalty. The move that led to Nathan Hicks (see, that’s three players I can name now) firing home would have been enough, in days gone by, to send the Brigstock & Thrapston Reds running round Steel Park with their willies hanging out, or perhaps (as it was a decidedly cold afternoon) just sing about it.

The attendance may have been equally tiny but made up for it with raucous cries of ‘Ole!’ and even ‘We want four’, last heard at least three seasons and two home grounds ago. And so after too many beatings to mention, Kettering Town at last registered another league win. In a rather different league than the last time, with only a few bedraggled refugees left to see it, but rather wonderful all the same.

Fans greet the news calmly

Sunday, 9 December 2012

What a difference four years make

Growing up in Kettering back in the 70's everyone at school seemed to be a Poppies fan.  Not everyone went to all the games, but everyone went to enough to know what was going on.  However, an interest in your local team only got you so far.  There's a big footballing world out there, and, through the power of the Figurine Panini Football Albums and Match of the Day, we felt part of it.  So much so that it was expected that each of us have our "big team" to sit alongside the Poppies in our affections.

Back then I'd like to think that we weren't as obvious as kids nowadays who simply choose whoever has just won the league, or, heaven forbid, a foreign team!  Not for most of us the choice of either whichever Manchester team had just bought the title or Barcelona.  I recall teams such as Coventry, Wolves, Bristol City, Leicester (obviously), and Sunderland having pockets of supporters at our school.  Obviously there were the usual Liverpool/Man Utd suck-ups, but there's always a few who can't do their own thinking!

My own choice was Brian Clough and Peter Taylor's Tricky Trees of Nottingham. They were never a particularly fashionable team, but the fact they'd just won the league certainly didn't hurt!

In keeping with supporting your "big club" the only investment was looking for results and, in my case, the occasional trip up to the City Ground.  These trips have carried on to the present day, but have become more intermittent.  In fact, before watching Forest slithering to a painfully tedious defeat to Hull City last Saturday the last time I'd taken my place amongst the permanently grizzling Nottingham public was four years ago.  As a friend kept me updated with the goals flying in against our teenage mutant hero poppies down at Chippenham I was afforded time to consider the last trip to the City Ground.

A week after Cooper's all-conquering, DRC-funded collection of slumming superstars had bullied our way to the title against the part timers of Conference North, the missus and I took our seats in the Bridgford Stand for the last game of the League One season.  Somehow, under the uninspired and stodgy management of Colin Calderwood Forest took the field that day against our old rivals Yeovil Town knowing a win and a couple of other helpful results could actually see Forest sneak into the second automatic promotion spot.  The season before Forest were within an ace of getting to the Play-Off final when they won away at Yeovil in the first leg.  The return game in Nottingham should have been a formality, but no-one told the cider-drinkers this and they ran out easy winners, scoring 5 times!

As it happened, history didn't repeat itself, and 90 minutes later all the necessary results had gone Forest's way and I found myself celebrating two promotions in a week.  Wow, wouldn't football be enjoyable if it was like this all the time!  The team were cheered back onto the pitch one by one.  Even Calderwood got a cheer, albeit more muted. Ten games into the next season he was history, and one could sense that even as he took the reluctant plaudits, he knew he didn't quite have "IT" and was no doubt mentally getting his CV up to date.

Fast forward to the present day and things are a little different.  OK, Forest are still in the Championship, but less than 18,000 Reds had turned up to watch a painfully boring defeat, whilst down in Chippenham my number one team were three divisions, and a thousand fans lower than they were the last time I'd filed out of the City Ground.  I felt like mentioning this to the Nottingham folk all around me who were acting as though their world had just ended, just because they were now about 6 points off the play-offs!  I believe someone once coined the phrase about football being a funny old game.....

Friday, 7 December 2012

Finally time for a boycott? by Pedro

Pedro has put fingers to keyboard once again.  He obviously recalls that our motto is "We print anything", and is happy to continually nudge that boundary!  Do you agree?  Disagree?  Care?  Let us know.

I know that throughout the Non Park fiasco I have found myself swimming against most of the tide, but that has never stopped me believing that my analysis of the implications for our once great club has been right. We now find ourselves in the role of Southern League whipping boys, with our opponents dreaming of how much benefit they can do to their goal difference when they play us. Meanwhile, we wait for the fantasy “investors”to save us from our predicament Why does Liardick talk about investors when we all know that only a complete buck toothed idiot would invest in a club in our situation! A takeover has marginally more credibility but that seems never to cross our major shareholder’s lips.

We have a group of people who, had they been operating 2000 years ago, would have stopped Christianity before it had even started! (“What, he rose from the dead? That’s nothing, there’s a group over here who are keeping the Poppies alive! Come back when he’s made Torres a top goal scorer again then we’ll follow him!”) They undoubtedly deserve enormous respect and gratitude. The Malcs. Kens, Hoy, Alan, the young players being battered every game. We rightly give them huge thanks for their efforts for keeping our club on life support, although the major shareholder seems to be silent in offering anything. But I have to ask is this really the best thing for our club?

We can all to easily imagine what will happen next season as it will be a near carbon copy of this season (and last, we’re experienced now if nothing else). Relegation is now a certainty, the only question being will we beat the record for earliest ever relegation. It’s likely we’ll have another points deduction as it’s impossible to see Liardick meeting his financial obligations (does he even understand the word?). The money available for wages next season will still make our opponents in the Tin Pot Glue League (or whatever it’s called) seem like Premier League millionaires. Another relegation will be almost inevitable, perhaps meaning that we cross AFC DImones as they get promotion. And what will be our attendances (should I really use a plural)?

If the KTFC body isn’t dead, it is frozen in Liardick’s permafrost.

We all know we can’t go on like this, we just don’t want to accept it. I was at Corshite last week and for a moment, I felt the joy of watching my beloved Poppies again but I watched us getting walloped in another ground. I realised that even this small ground will be too big for us next season; what about the season after next?

Without a fundamental change in our ownership, we are in permanent decline.

It is time for that change. We have to drive Liardick out. The only way is to force the club into full administration where it can be bought back for a £1 (or similar). To those who hitherto had asked how would it be run without some sort of sugar daddy, that question has been resoundingly answered; it’s being run in exactly that way now (and with a drag from our major shareholder if anything).

So I would ask that everyone, from the fans to the Malcs. Kens, Hoy, Alan, the young players, everyone, boycott all games until the major shareholder (and any of his “friends”) no longer have any interest in our club. Ask yourselves, is what you’re doing really serving the longer term interests of our club? I’m sure if you ask yourself that question you’ll know, deep in your heart, that you’re not.
As I said, it’s time for us to do something. A boycott is the only way. It’ll force the major shareholder, it’ll force the Southern League. It’s the only thing they’ll listen to. It won’t work if we don’t do it together, we will have to be united. That means it has to be organised. The only voice that can organise us is the Trust. To the Trust, I implore you do it and save our club.
There really is no alternative, things are that grave!