The conversion of Latimer Park from a roughly hewn field into a roughly hewn field with a bit of a football ground around it, continues. Last season, floodlights, hard standing, a couple of small seated areas, and a food concession, were all added. This season additional developments are on their way, such as a functional sponsor/boardroom area, hard standing on the 4th side of the ground and a small terrace with cover at the former-fir tree end. And whisper it quietly, but there is a rumour that chips will be available at home games this year.....
The make-up of the off-field Board of Directors has a distinctly Poppies-supporter feel, with fans of long-standing in positions of real authority. Best case scenario, this means that the wishes and hopes of the average fan might be represented at the highest level. Worst case scenario, it all goes tits up, but we know where the directors live, allowing us to extract personal vengeance at our leisure!
An unpopular move, and possibly Ritchie's first miss-step, is the winding-up of Poppies Radio, ahead of a club TV/Radio initiative. If you'd never listened to Poppies Radio, you missed a curious treat. A handful of Poppies fans, armed with microphones, part-commentating and part-reacting like you and me, whilst watching the game. Coming out with a mixture of observational gems, and screaming at every goal in such a way you could never quite tell for 5 minutes which team had actually scored. They even mentioned the score from time to time!
Poppies Radio has been disbanded by Ritchie in favour of an entirely club-run station. Will it work? Will people pay money where they used to receive a free service? People are prepared to put up with a cheerfully amateurish approach and occasional loss of signal with a free service. It is doubtful they will be as forgiving when paying out hard cash. Will Ritchie manage to assemble a team of fans prepared to run this new station for him? Will we really want pay to hear Henry chat post-match about being "Over the moon", when you can ask him in the bar for free? We'll see.
Poppies Radio themselves don't seem to be as cut up about their demise as the rest of us: -
Rest assured, Ritchie has yet to announce plans for a club-run online fanzine, but, if he's reading this, we are ready to be bought out for a reasonably high figure.....
In the last few weeks the seemingly ridiculous plan to move us back into Kettering at the back of Avondale school has been announced. Everyone's first reaction is that this plan was a non-starter. The area in question is not large. It is in the middle of housing. There's no parking. Plans for 70-odd houses on the site already exist. The land would have to be paid for. And even if all of these hurdles are somehow overcome, we then need to get our plans past the Anti-Poppies Alliance (AKA Kettering Borough Council).
However, as more details came out about our bid, the more we are tempted to think this plan isn't entirely doomed to failure.
Presently, although permission has been given for housing, no developer has staked their claim. The locals, although not 100% in favour of us moving in there, have shown some enthusiasm. Not surprising, when the alternative is another big wedge of "affordable housing" probably owned by housing associations and rented out to the usual mix of undesirables.
Utilising the available parking already on the site there is more there than in both Rockingham Road and Latimer Par put together.
The cash for the land and the development is entirely beyond our control, but, presumably Ritchie is committing himself to this outlay. Why? Who can say. He's probably insane.....
This leaves us with our beloved Council. One or two councillors have broken cover and announced their initial support to getting us back into Kettering. This doesn't mean that when it comes to voting the usual old-stagers based out of the town won't pull rank and manage to screw us over once again.
It will be interesting if everything else falls into place, and it comes down to KBC to make or break the deal. They have professed support for the Poppies when we have safely been out of the way at Non Park, or Latimer Park. What will they do when this theoretical support for the club needs to be turned into actual support?
As ever, it's never dull.....