Ground Number: 327
Tuesday 21st January 2014
Kettering Town 4-5 Redditch United
Red Insure Cup
For the third time this year I'd be visiting a ground that I had never been to before, not even to take pictures, With regular trips to watch Wycombe in the past all over the country, I had stopped off at a whole load of grounds en route and so it was becoming ever rarer that I'd be seeing a ground for the first time when I went to see a game there.
This would be the fourth Kettering Town 'home' ground in under 3 years. Up until 2011 the club were based at Rockingham Road, their home of 114 years. However former chairman Imran Ladak couldn't wait to get out of the ground, despite the lease on it still having time to run. They then moved to rivals Rushden & Diamonds former home. The original tenants went bust and Kettering could have followed had they stayed there, such were the costs of upkeep. The club vacated the premises and moved to groundshare with local side Corby Town mid season, staying there for around 6 months. Eventually for the start of this season, they moved to another ground share, this time with Burton Park Wanderers, a team based in a part of Kettering called Burton Latimer. They have had to make some improvements to the ground, as the home team played at step 6 of non league in the United Counties League Division 1. The criteria for stadia is much lower at this level, so it remains to be seen whether this will be a permanent groundshare, or indeed how long it will last. Rivals Rushden and Diamonds are doing much the same thing a division lower with Wellingborough Town, and that's a pretty good setup, so it would be interesting to see what tonight's game would bring.
My first visit to see Kettering on their own patch was at Rockingham Road in October 1992. Kettering were suffering financial issues at the time, a scene that was to be repeated many times over the years. I remember them charging £1 (quite a lot of money at the time!) for a very thin programme which repeated the message about being in the brown stuff financially. Wycombe romped to a 4-0 win and I remember at the time thinking what a huge stand Kettering had, as it was only the 4th ground that I had visited.
My other times watching Kettering consisted of 2 games during the 2 seasons I had watched Wycombe in the Conference. Firstly in March 1992 we beat them 1-0, thanks to a remarkable own goal from Paul Nichol which probably would have won goal of the season had it been in the right net. Though this was part of a run of 8 successive Conference victories, the season was to end in tears as we lost out on goal difference to Colchester United for the title, despite getting 94 points from 42 games. The next season saw us win the league and trophy double and Kettering's 2-1 win at Adams Park was a rare blip in that season. I saw the Poppies play once more before tonight - last season they narrowly lost 2-1 to Leamington despite being on a poor run of form at the time and Leamington being on their way to promotion. I remember the Kettering keeper most from this game - he looked like Mr T from the A-Team!!
I had watched visitors Redditch United as recently as December 21st on their own ground. They were unlucky to lost to St Albans on that occasion. I had also seen them lose away to Arlesey, so neither side had the greatest of records when I was watching them. Both however had made good progress in this competition. Redditch had an amazing 6-4 victory at Stratford Town before beating Rugby Town 3-2 on their own ground. Kettering had won 5-0 at home to Daventry before travelling to Arlesey and winning 3-0. So plenty of goals and I was hoping for more of the same on the night. It would go to extra time and penalties in any case, so at least I would see some action.
I had actually been meaning to go to this game twice previously. But the rain and waterlogged pitches meant I went to Leiston and Hatfield instead. I was glad when it was finally confirmed as on as I needed this one to re complete the Southern League Division 1 Central, having finished it last season before 3 new teams entered into the fray. I spent my day off from work chilling and planning a few more trips for the rest of the season. I left home at 4, picking up Anwar in Aylesbury at 4.30. We put Morrisons in Kettering, where we were planning to go for dinner, into the sat nav. The first part of the journey was fine, with not too much traffic apart from the usual in Milton Keynes. But when we hit Northamptonshire, it really clogged up with the A43 and A45 being especially rubbish. Even though they were dual carriageways they crawled along at a snails pace for miles on end. We eventually got to Morrisons at 6.30 and went to the cafe. Usually at lunchtime the cafe is spot on, with freshly cooked food and a big menu. However I had to choose from a greatly reduced menu for the evening, and when it came the chips weren't particularly hot (only warm) and the burger though tasting OK was nowt to write home about. Still it was only £3.50, and it filled a gap.
It was just before 7 by the time we had finished dinner and as parking was supposed to be limited at the ground, we got on our way, arriving at 7.15. We took a quick look in the clubhouse, not much going on so we went in the ground. I picked up a programme and in between taking some pictures of the ground, I chatted to 2 groundhoppers off of Facebook. One of them I had met before, Peter, the Southend fan. Also for the first time I met Stephen, a Crewe fan. We discussed the best grounds we had been to and the ones that we planned to visit. It was getting quite cold now, so I resolved to get myself a bovril if possible at half time. I took my place along the side of the pitch for what would turn out to be an epic encounter, as described below There is also footage of the first goal that I got on my mobile.
15: Penalty to Kettering, smashed against the bar by Dubi Ogbonna but Andy Gooding followed up. This followed an extremely harsh and wrongful sending off for James Mutton whose accidental handball led to the penalty kick. (1-0)
18: Jermaine Hylton raced down the left and cut inside before finishing past the Kettering keeper, a decent goal created by the Redditch man's pace. (1-1)
27: A good break allowed Moreman to get in a cross that James Jepson headed in. (2-1)
34: Pretty much a replica of the first goal and Jermaine Hylton scored his and the visitors second. (2-2)
HALF TIME: KETTERING TOWN 2-2 REDDITCH UNITED
56: That man Hylton involved again, except this time he was the provider. His cross found Sterling James on the right whose shot went in off the left hand post. (2-3)
57: Less than a minute later it was all square. Louis Hamilton sped down the right, crossed and Josh Moreman was there to fire home. (3-3)
59: Moreman's second and a great finish to turn the tie on it's head in double quick time (4-3)
69: Jermaine Hylton completing his hat trick as he evaded 2 Kettering tackles, before levaing himself with a simple chance (4-4)
77: Hylton involved yet again as he set up Ashley Sammons, his cool left foot finish past the Kettering keeper proving to be the winner (4-5)
FINAL SCORE FROM LATIMER PARK: KETTERING TOWN 4-5 REDDITCH UNITED
It had turned out to be an amazing game with plenty of chances for either side. A draw probably would have been fair and myself and Anwar were praying for a draw so we could see the drama of a penalty shoot out. But it wasn't to be, it was a great way to finish the Southern Division 1 Central football wise. They were also a friendly club and I chatted to a number of Kettering fans during the evening. Sadly it was time to get back to real life though. We left at about 9.50. The drive home was a lot quicker and I was back at Anwar's in Aylesbury by 10.55. A quick drive home saw me get back to mine just before 11.20, though I was still wide awake from the football so I didn't get to sleep till after 1, getting just 3 hours sleep before I had to be up for work.
As a footnote, things did not go as well in an equally exciting game for Wycombe, who played at Beaconsfield SYCOB in the Berks and Bucks Cup. Despite having 371 appearances for the Wycombe Wanderers first team between them, a Wycombe side who have started many times this season managed to lose on penalties after drawing 3-3. I'd had a premonition on the way home that it would be 4-2 on penalties as soon as we heard it had gone into extra time. Jon Barrie Bates, who will be 42 in April and who has hardly played the last few years even managed to get on the scoresheet, as Beaconsfield rotated their squad. Where we go from here is anyone's guess, as this season lurches from one crisis to another, certainly the next 4 games will shape our season and we could have a real battle to stay up, being only 2 points above relegation at the time of writing.
LATIMER PARK is the original home of Burton Park Wanderers, they play at step 6 of non league, or level 10 of the English league system as a whole. The ground before Kettering was a decent one for this level, comprising of a small seated stand and a covered terrace behind the goal. Since Kettering arrived they have added a couple of new stands, interestingly one of which was at Ford Sports Daventry FC originally. This brings the seating capacity up to around 400, with at a guess another 300 under the cover behind the goal. The remaining 2 sides are uncovered and you can't even access the far side at this present time. The ground does have a very temporary feel to it, as Kettering's future here is uncertain. They are just glad to have a home in or near their town. The ground is probably average for this level and is surrounded by some nice greenery.
There wasn't much in the way of extra facilities on the night. There was no club shop that I could see, nor was there one mentioned on the website. The tea bar was closed too. There were hot pies and beef rolls on sale in the clubhouse, which had your average range of drinks. So it's probably best to eat and drink before you come. Even with that said, it was still a good day out with a friendly club and of course helped by a cracking game of football.