A tough nut to crack at the best of times, Kettering Town became a regular opponent during our time in the Conference. The Poppies’ fortunes took a slide as we left the old century behind, however. Of course, relegation in 2001 didn’t stop ’em coming back to haunt us during the next season’s FA Cup campaign. After one season back in the non-league big time in 2002-3, they went down again and didn’t come back ’til 2008.
By that point, of course, they’d gone down the route of naming a 1990s Spurs legend as manager. Who’d do that, eh? Anyway, we came up against Gazza’s Kettering side in the 2005-6 FA Cup; an encounter we won 3-1. It certainly piqued the interest of the media in any case. We wouldn’t know about that sort of thing…
Since we went up to the Football League, things started to get tough for the Poppies. No longer do they play at Rockingham Road; Burton Latimer the place to which they moved. And they slipped further down into the Southern League after going into administration. The path back to the Conference became even longer. The Poppies made it back to National League North for the 2019-20 season – but were relegated again in 2023.
Kettering Town: The Facts
Polwell Lane, Burton Latimer, Northamptonshire, NN15 5PS
Formed in 1872 as plain old Kettering, the club can boast a long and rich story. For the Poppies, their first proper taste of league football came in 1892 when they joined the Midland League. Title wins in 1895 and 1900 gave them the confidence to bid for a place in the Football League. But the answer was no. Instead, they opted to join the Southern League for the first time. It lasted just four years before they dropped out into the Northamptonshire League. Again, this would only be a short-lived thing.
In 1909, they rejoined the Southern League again – only to leave in 1912. Keeping up with this is a stretch, innit. In the years between 1912 and 1923, they’d be members of the Central Alliance. The next stop after that? Yes – the Southern League. A year later, Town was added to their name too. And you’d find them in the Southern League up until 1931, when they left again. This time, the Poppies replaced their reserves in the Birmingham and District League; lasting a year before choosing the United Counties League.
World War Two came and went and the Poppies rejoined the Birmingham and District League. Winning a title (1948) and finishing second (1949) prompted another rethink. And, yep, it was back to the Southern League in 1950. This time, they stuck it out for the duration; winning the whole thing twice and falling just short in the FA Trophy in the near-30 years that followed. Why near-30? Well, because the Poppies were now a formidable non-league team and that earned inclusion in the new Alliance Premier League in 1979.
The closest Kettering Town came to being crowned the number one non-league team in England was the runners-up position; something they did in 1981, 1989, 1994, and 1999. By the time they posted a fourth and final second-placed finish, Boro’ had arrived on the scene. But we actually had cause to meet them during the 1993-4 season when the Poppies fell three points short of Conference winners Kidderminster Harriers. We were paired together in the FA Trophy Round One draw; Boro’ narrowly losing out 2-1.
How to get to Kettering Town – Travel Information – Distance: 55 miles
Kettering now play their home games in Burton Latimer. To get here, head north on the A1 and then go west on the A14. At Junction 10, come off for the A6. Take the second exit for Kettering Road, quickly followed by the second exit at the next roundabout onto Altendiez Way. This is again quickly followed by yet another roundabout, which you’ll need the third exit. The ground is on the left after just under a mile.
At the ground, there’s a limited number of spaces for fans. With restrictions on local on-street parking too, your best bet is to arrive at the ground in plenty of time. It’s likely that Boro’ will take a few to this one – and a few locals will also turn out too.
Services to: LUTON AIRPORT PARKWAY, LONDON ST PANCRAS
Kettering’s station is a fair old distance from where you need to be. You’ll either need a bus or a taxi to complete the journey.
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