“ Sports: Football / Sport Topic: Football Clubs & Teams „
Kettering Town Football Club - one of the best and most recognised names in non-league football!
A passionate place to be on match day, the fans give their all for players and staff. The terraces rock with encouragement, every game, without fail. I've been to a few non-league grounds but the atmosphere at The Elgood's Brewery Arena, formerly Rockingham Road, is excellent. Many fans still refer to the ground as 'Rocky Road'.
Ticket prices* have gone up a lot in recent years. It used to be something like £4 for a child to sit in the seated stand. However, the games are now categorised into A, B and C fixtures. Obviously the derbies (for example Rushden and Diamonds) are in the A category; this mean the game will cost a junior £7. An adult ticket used to be around £8, but now it is £18, £16 and £10 depending on the category. A season ticket will set you back £300 for an adult and £67 for a junior, if you were sitting in the main stand. Match day prices and season tickets are cheaper if you choose to stand on the terraces. I personally love the atmosphere in the terraces as it can become very noisy when you're with a bunch of passionate supporters! *Prices correct as of 09/10 season
The stadium is situated next to a bowling alley which incorporates a Wimpy fast food chain. It can be overcrowded on match days, but it means there is a place for buying food within a close proximity of the ground. The car park is small and is usually reserved for the team and special guests of the football club, which means you'll have to park somewhere else. There is a Co-op superstore opposite the football club which has ample parking - this store will turn into an ASDA within the coming months.
Kettering Town FC moved to the Rockingham Road site in 1897 and the current stadium can hold 6,264. There has been strong pressure on Kettering Borough Council to help Kettering Town find a new home, as the lease expires in a few years and this would render them unable to play in the Blue Square Premier, let alone the aspirational heights of the football league.
Current manager Lee Harper was a fan's favourite during his playing days with the club, making around 110 league appearances for the club. This does not include the FA cup game this season - 09/10 - where, against Leeds United, he made a number of crucial saves to earn a replay against the Yorkshire giants. Kettering went on to lose the replay 5-1 after extra time, but Harper was given then 'Man of the Match' award by ITV pundit Andy Townsend for his commendable performance in the match. Harper gained the managers job after Mark Cooper moved to Peterborough United and although his future is unsure, the players are right behind the manager. He retired from playing in March 2010 to concentrate on his managerial duties, but a long standing back injury helped to sway his decision.
Having enjoyed an excellent FA cup run in recent years, Kettering continued this trend in 2008/09 season by playing and defeating Lincoln City, Notts County and Eastwood Town to set up a mouth-watering tie with Premier League side Fulham in the FA Cup 4th Road. With many people writing Kettering off, they didn't give up and matched Fulham throughout most of the game. Two late goals killed the game off and Kettering lost the match 4-2, but considering there were nearly 100 league positions between the clubs, it was a highly respectable performance. Kettering narrowly missed out on the play off places this season.
Famous for being the first British club to have sponsors on their shirts, this deal was brokered by former Chief Executive and Manager Derek Dougan. Kettering Tyres were the company that were going to have their name on the shirts; however the name had to be removed due to FA rules. The club shortened the sponsorship to "Kettering T", with Dougan claiming this stood for Kettering "Town". With the threat of a £1,000 fine, this was removed but set an early president, as sponsorships were ratified by the FA in 1977. Another reasoning Kettering have managed to get into the history books is because their floodlights are in the shape of the initials KTFC.
There is a clubhouse where fans can enjoy a drink before, during and after the match. The prices are reasonable and the atmosphere is fantastic, although being young I have never tried the drinks and cannot tell you how good they are! With the club currently being sponsored by Elgoods, they are now offering this as well. I've been told it is an excellent choice and offers something different in the way of alcohol.
Within the stadium there is a food beverage 'van' and another little building within the main stand. The quality of the food is very good, the staff are helpful and the prices are good value for money, considering you have to pay an extra premium due to being in the ground and you're unable to get food from anywhere else.
I go to less than half of the home games in the season due to other commitments but the atmosphere is always fantastic. All the fans are welcoming, there are friendly stewards that greet you and the facilities (like toilets) are kept clean and in good working order. Obviously if you're in the terraces, you're going to have to hold on 'til full time!
Current chairman Imraan Ladak has slashed the playing budget since Mark Cooper's departure, meaning that the squad has become very thing. However, the main names of the recent era still remain. These include Jean-Paul Marna (striker), John Dempster (Defender) and Andre Boucaud (midfielder). Boucaud has attracted the attention of many football league clubs but has not made the move to a higher division as of yet. Kettering's style of football is like you would expect to see in non-league, with the long balls out of defence, but also alarmingly different. The effective one touch passes and the neat turns from the higher skilled players, such as Bouchard, show that there is more to non-league football than "hoof it and run".
Tickets to the game can be purchased from the ticket office on match days, which is located next to the ground. Merchandise, such as replica football shirts and scarves, can be found in a porta-cabin outside the main stand. Previously, there was a shop within the town centre, but this didn't take off as expected and they have reverted back to the porta cabin.
I would thoroughly recommend a visit to the club as it is an immense day out and well worth the money, even if prices are a little high.
[There is probably a little more to write and I will come back and adjust this when I've thought of all the extra ideas. If you think there is something I could write about, leave a comment and I could try]
Kettering has been my home for 3years and in that time ive become very attached to that towns football team 'The Poppies' !!! Ive lived in Northampton,North London,Surrey,Hampshire,Sheffield and Doncaster and wherever ive lived ive always tried to follow the local Football team as its a passion of mine but ive never had a great affection for any team like i have Kettering Town. Heres a little history on Kettering Town and reasons why i think ive become so attached to them; They were formed in 1872 as a part-time outfit turning pro in 1891 and since then on have always been one of the best non-league teams in the country. Theyve won countless non-league competitions and cups and remained in non-league top flight until last season when despite a spirited attempt to stay up dropped into the Dr Martens league(a feeder league for the non-league conference). Ron Atkinson was a former manager of the club in the seventies. Carl Shutt a former Leeds Utd and Sheffield Wednesday striker is now manager of the club and was given the task of getting Kettering back into the conference.His contacts in league football and status helped convince players to stay at the club and indeed bring new ones in. Possibly Kettering's star players are Dale Watkins a former league striker who has scored goals throughout his career and Darren Collins another striker who came from Ketterings great rivals Rushden and Diamonds. Also on the books are Peter Fear who used to play for Wimbledon in the Premier League and Shaun Murray a playmaker who has played in the league. Kettering started this season as big favourites to win the league due mainly to their strong support probably second only to Crawley Town and their history as being a non-league giant. Ketterings gates for the season averaged out around 1800 which although doesnt sound much, it is for Doc Martens footy which is still two steps aw
ay from the main league. They also took over a hundred to most away games which dwarfs the usual 3men and a dog which turned out at Kettering from opposing teams. Ketterings ground Rockingham Rd has an imposing main stand which seats all the season ticket holders plus an enclosure for 'posh' away fans.Behind the goals are uncovered banked terracing and the other side is a covered one tier stand where most of the diehard fans stand including me. Anyway the new season started with Kettering Town,Crawley Town,Havant and Waterlooville(two clubs formed together)and Weymouth ( the best ground in the division) as favourites. From the outset Crawley Town started like a train and pulled clear of Havant,Kettering and the surprise package Tamworth. I especially remember Crawley's noisy southern fans taunting Kettering when they stuffed us around September time! As Christmas approached Crawley started to falter and when Kettering beat them away and Tamworth continued to eek out the results it was these three teams that started to pull clear of the rest. Crawley went on a disastrous run where they failed to win for 10 games and as easter approached Kettering and Tamworth were the only two teams in it. With five games to go Kettering lost to the bottom of the league team Newport Isle of Wight and Tamworth pulled five points clear and that day most Kettering supporters conceded defeat but all wasnt lost. Kettering had to win all 5games realistically and hope Tamworth slipped up. Kettering took 500 away fans to Kings Lynn and won 3-0 and Tamworth could only draw two games in a row. Last game of the season loomed and the two teams were locked together on the same points with Tamworth ahead on goal difference. Kettering took 1200 away fans to Tiverton and outnumbered the Devon fans and completed a 2-1 victory meanwhile Tamworth's score was read out on the tannoy Tamworth 3(oh know!!) Folkestone 3(oh yes),Ketteri
ng were the champions and swarmed onto the pitch amid ecstatic scenes. So all in all Kettering's achievement was very noteworthy as they were expected to win which put all the pressure on them and none on lowly Tamworth but they emerged the winners. I felt sorry for Tamworth really but only one team could go up and although ive never been to Folkestone i toasted a few drinks to that town that night!!!! Ive been to Kettering about fifty times now and its a very homely,welcoming club with very knowledgable and dedicated fans. Ive never known the Kettering faithfull ever get on the back of the players-something which is very common in the world of Football and its nice to see. They really enjoy their football and applaud opposition players if deserved which makes u proud to be part of the Kettering set up. There a bit old fashioned really in this new world of cut throat business where success is demanded at any costs! I was welcomed with open arms by the club,invited into the Poppies social club and have made several freinds through the club which i have never expereinced before and on top of that i have never seen any unsavoury behaviour from the Kettering fans which is very rare indeed for any club thesedays. Kettering Town will start next season back in the elite of non-league football and i for one hope they enjoy more deserved success.