It always amuses me when a terrace mouthpiece opines, "This is rubbish football", or "Keep it on the deck". The latter exclamation always makes me chuckle. Usually because a few seconds earlier the same person has screamed at our defence, "Clear it! Clear it! Row Z!"
We know the level of football we are at dictates the quality of player and football on view. We are one level above the UCL, what do our supporters expect? Performances that would make the Barcelona team quake in their boots?
The more I think about it, so many Poppies fans mention the threadbare quality of the football these days, that they must have previously experienced a "Golden Age" of Kettering football, and want to see it again. Very laudable. The only problem is that I can't remember it. When was it? When did we have this period of playing perfect, sexy football everyone else seems to hark back to?
Was it during the Lawton or Atkinson eras? I don't know. Both were before my time. And more than likely before your time too, given that Big Ron's successful spell was now 40 years ago! But did these periods really produce sparkling football, given the heavy balls, heavy pitches, heavy players and heavy sideburns? Doubtful.
Was it during the Mick Jones era when we were free-scoring but still never actually won anything? Surely if the football was pure champagne we would have won a few leagues or at least the Trophy against Stafford?
Alan Buckley's reign arrested the 1980's slide towards being perennial relegation zone fodder, and Peter Morris's first stint did much to build on Buckley's work and establish us as a genuine power in the non-league game. But was the football especially breathtaking? Not from what I recall, and the host of 1-0 wins would suggest.
Our functional football carried on through the next handful of touchline ranters. The closest we ever came to being footballing primadonnas came during Morrell's first stint with the club. However, to put this period in context, we were the only full-time team in a division of third-rate part time and jumped-up park teams. We played some incredible football at times. It is doubtful that supporters of Clitheroe ever hear the name Kettering without suppressing a shudder. That said, even being bank-rolled by DRC to the tune of 100 billion a year, we still didn't win the bloody division!
Mark Cooper's all-destroying team which got us back into the top division was made up of very good players, effectively beating all that was put in front of them, but Cooper being Cooper, would never allow the actual football to ever rise above being strictly functional.
And, given the club's downward trajectory since Cooper left to conquer the footballing world at Peterborough, I can't see how our supposed "Golden Age" has happened since. So, when exactly did it happen? I fear the only place it happened is in the minds of some of our more blinkered brethren. Let's be honest - we turn up and watch our team because it bears the name of the place we come from, not because we are acting as guardians of our reputation as purveyors of magical football. When one of our players strikes a ball which hits the back of the opposition's net I cheer. When the game ends and we've done this more than the opposition I cheer again. The odd bit of skill thrown in there, and a shapely opposition physio or pretty young female ref are all I ask. That's enough for me. I'm never going to pretend otherwise.