The last time we reported from Kettering Town, the club was at the point of being on its knees. With the whole team having been put on the transfer list, they lost five players on loan deadline day, only to see three replacements having their transfers to the club cancelled after the club was placed under a transfer embargo. A new low, however, was reached for the club this afternoon with a trip to York City that began with manager Mark Stimson only able to take two substitutes to Bootham Crescent and ended with a seven goal thrashing and the club sitting just one place above the relegation places, with the second worst goal difference in the Blue Square Premier.
There is a definite fatalistic air around the club at present, with the club’s supporters forum now openly discussing what form a phoenix club should take whilst others, stuck rather more in the present, are wondering aloud whether they should cancel the direct debits that they have set for their season tickets. Some still chose to make the trip up to North Yorkshire, but it didn’t take long for the goals to start raining in. The first came after just seven minutes, and York were four to the good at half-time. To add insult to injury, York’s final goal of the day was scored with thirteen minutes to play by Moses Ashikodi, who has been on loan there from Kettering since being involved in a brawl with another player over who would take a penalty at the end of their home match against Hayes & Yeading United a couple of months ago.
Meanwhile, Kettering Town Football Club itself remains eerily quiet. If one was to read the club’s official website it would be difficult to establish anything significant regarding the health of the club. Imraan Ladak, the blue sky thinking owner of the club whose bright idea to give up on the idea of finding a new home in the town for when the lease on its tradtional Rockingham Road grround expires move it eight miles away from its home town to a new ground with cripplingly high running costs put it in this position in the first place has previously not been the shy and retiring type when it came to dealing with the press, but his absolute silence in recent weeks can only suggest that he has completely lost interest in the club.
Manager Mark Stimson has spent his time in charge of the club effectively working with at least one hand tied behind his back. The expensively assembled squad of previous manager Morrell Maison – whose appointment as manager of the club during the summer was a sure sign that something wasn’t quite right at Kettering – has all but disintegrated and, with the triple-whammy of a transfer embargo, reduced turnover and players leaving the club faster than rats leaving a sinking ship, it now seems at least as unlikely as not that Kettering Town will have an enormous struggle to even finish the season, yet alone avoid relegation. There is nobody waiting in the shadows to save Kettering Town FC this time. Quite how it can remain operational without a sudden and enormous change in fortunes is, at this stage in time, an absolute mystery.
It has been a most strange season for football in the county of Northamptonshire so far, and it may well end with Kettering Town and Rushden & Diamonds playing in the United Counties League, Corby Town – who are currently challenging near the top of the Blue Square North – and Northampton Town – in serious danger of relegation from the Football League – playing in the Blue Square Premier and no representative from the county in the top four divisions of English football for the first time since 1921, and that Imraan Ladak should have allowed the circumstances in which Kettering Town now find themselves is a disgrace. This man, we can only say in the plainest words possible, should never be allowed near a football club again.
After a history of almost one hundred and forty years, it has only taken a few months to demolish this football club. Indeed, the rate of change has been so quick that supporters groups at Kettering Town have been unable to react to its changing fortunes with the spped at which things have developed. If there is to be a new football club for Kettering, then that process must begin now. The alternative is to leave things too late and spend a season – as happened, for reasons that were way beyond anybody’s control – to AFC Rushden & Diamonds in the summer – watching a youth team play whilst planning for the start of the season after next. And the fact of the matter is that all the time that Ladak keeps silent and the scent of dry rot continues to hang over Nene Park lingers in the air, supporters really have little option but to expect much other than the very worse and plan for the future. It is starting to feel as if Kettering Town Football Club may soon have to be put out of its misery.
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