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