Friday, 1 January 2016

Would a return to Rockingham Road really answer all of our prayers?

The throwaway mention by Ritchie on his New Year Message of no movement with regard to the lease at Latimer Park, and the Rockingham Road's continued limbo status was interesting. It immediately drew a comment on Poppynet which struck me - a Poppies fan indicated he would definitely attend more games were we to move back to Rocky Road.

I couldn't help but respond on the Forum, but have moved the bulk of my thoughts here as I realised I'd gone well beyond simply responding, and had written a full blown article!  A quick cut-and-paste later, and my diatribe was in it's "proper home!"

The question that hit me was as a Poppies fan is your loyalty to supporting the team, or should you be loyal to a place?

I have never been in doubt that a football club is the supporters supporting the team wearing the shirt.  This is not to say that this made leaving Rocky Road in any way easy, but I refused to accept my team ceased to exist if it didn't play there.  I appreciate this is not a view held by all Poppies fans, but consider this - If Rocky Road was the defining focus of your support did you turn up to watch Corby when they ground-shared?  Of course not!  Why would you?  The Poppies weren't playing there.

However, how would the "Rockingham Road or nothing" brigade react if the opportunity to go back there actually happened?

What if we were all needed to muck-in to make the place even barely acceptable?  Would they return to work for a club they haven't had any tangible attachment to for the past 5-years?  For players they've never seen?  Would it be left for the usual few to do everything for the majority?

So, what if we did manage to get back to a much reduced Rockingham Road?  It would be possible, if not probable that the main stand would be unusable - it was failing inspections 10 years ago.  So this part of the ground might be roped off and left derelict.  The teams would probably need to change in a portakabin.  Or the old Social Club?

What if all we had was the Brit Road terrace, and an ugly bit of temporary seating on Cowper Street?

What if the pitch couldn't be totally restored?  The one-off game staged there shortly after we'd left showed how much the playing surface had fallen into disrepair.  Five years on and God knows what the condition of the pitch would be like - and that's after the bushes, weeds and undergrowth were cleared.  We'd have a very bobbly playing surface,  albeit one with very good drainage!

With the teams and club utilising the sponsor's lounge and the old social club, what if the supporters facilities were reduced to the old Supporter Club building on the corner of Cowper Street? Tiny and cramped.  Assuming it's still usable of course?

Do the floodlights still work?  Would we be better served bringing the Latimer Park ones over?

What if the costs of any further restoration were beyond Ritchie's means?  Buying back the land would not be a small matter.  What if the set-up described above was to be our home for the next 5-10 years?  Would this tempt back those who only equate the Poppies with Rockingham Road?

What if no-one can offer them the Rocky Road they remember?  Would it be enough for them?  On the other hand, if Latimer Park can further be developed, would it ever be enough to tempt some of our lapsed people back?  As a supporter base do we have the numbers or the stomach to commit ourselves to the possibility of decades of struggle and hard work to either boost LP or turn around RR?

Sad to say, but I doubt it.  Those who have stuck with the club through Non Park, Steel Park and now Latimer Park are getting older.  Those who have fallen by the wayside have shown themselves, and this may prove to be an unpopular opinion, to lack the necessary commitment to the Poppies cause.

Just how much do we want this fight?  Really want it?

1 comment:

  1. Good Day Patgod .
    A good write up on your Poppies Site Jan. 1st regarding loyalty of fans to either players / club 'or ' ground/pitch . Living in Burton Latimer I, along with my ' Poppies Mad ' fans , have enjoyed watching 'The Team' at Rockingham Road , Corby Triangle , Irthlingborough Football Ground and now at Latimer Park ,which as you imagine is preferable on the travel expenses.

    As out of Kettering supporters although ' in the Borough ' we sometimes have wondered about those fans who broke away when ' The Team ' had to vacate Rockingham Road and play at another pitch. There are many Poppies supporters who have followed 'The Team' throughout the latter years travels and it should also be recognized that many out of Kettering Town supporters have followed the Poppies over the decades. Even when towns like Burton Latimer had it's own identity with it's own Urban District Council and run it's local affairs and had it's own Football Team , whereas now Burton Latimer is under the control of Kettering Borough Council . The question arises , have the Breakaway Poppies Fans thought or considered this ? as you pointed out is it The Team ? or The Pitch that most important ?

    When The Poppies had to vacate Rockingham Road one of the outstanding problems was that they did not have enough income coming in to support a club that needed to aim higher. Fanbase has declined considerably since the 1950's and when 'The Pink Un ' was published by The Evening Telegraph, consider the attendances in the earlier years of the 20th Century.

    We Fans at Burton Latimer had no gripes when The Poppies Team had to play at alternative pitches during the recent years 'pitch conflicts' ,especially at the Irthlingborough Ground . If all The Poppies Fans had pulled together it would have provided a facility to go into a higher league, no problem , although I admit that the ground was a little alienated from Kettering area. The real issue was , why did 'Poppies Fans' let old Rushden & Diamonds memories destroy The Poppies Team ? The result , of course was ' Kettering Town ' dropping several leagues , reforming a team to suit the league they have now themselves in and struggling to find a suitable ground.

    Needles to say, at least 'The Poppies ' are on a better footing , now , keeping a tight rein on the purse strings and there is some good / interesting matches come about. Fans have to remember that it is 'The Team' that will dictate the future , how it will grow and where it will play and it needs 'The Fans' to remain loyal wherever they go .