“Can you hear us KBC?”: Poppies fans march on council offices over Rockingham Road decision

Poppies fans march through the town centre.

Poppies fans march through the town centre.

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Poppies fans made themselves heard as they marched on Kettering Council’s offices over their decision not to list Rockingham Road as a community asset.

About 250 Poppies faithful joined the walk from their old stadium through the town as they presented a petition with more than 4,000 signatures.

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Fans vented their frustration with chants of “can you hear us KBC?” - and boy, Kettering Council got the message.

In an unexpected turn of events councillors were given 15 minutes to debate the issue, despite being told this would not happen earlier this month.

Independent councillors Michael Brown and Steve Bellamy laid into the council over their lack of support.

Cllr Brown said: “This debate has been a very long time coming.

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“If you spent as much energy that you have done in trying to avoid the debate [on the Poppies] then there would be no need for the debate at all.

“They [the fans] are calling on you out of frustration more than anything to get a grip and invest in our local football club, stop overlooking KTFC.

“You have a stadium in this borough which is in a sorry state and is currently rotting away under your watch.

“It [the council] has the powers but it’s choosing not to follow them through.

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“Get this problem sorted.”

Cllr Bellamy said: “I have had the pleasure of walking with everyone through the town tonight and it was amazing.

“I think it’s too big an issue for the cowardly executive to have themselves.

“The people want support support from the council and at the minute they are not getting it.”

The meeting kicked off with chief executive David Cook outlining the reasons for the initial rejection, one of which was a lack of community support.

Another was that there had been no use in recent years - but Poppies fans were far from happy when he said that the 2010/11 season was not deemed recent.

The meeting became heated at times and Mayor Scott Edwards stepped in to warn fans to be quiet or face being asked to leave.

Richard Atkinson, who began the petition and organised the march, then gave a rousing speech about the issue to a standing ovation from the Poppies faithful.

In fact, it was so loud Kettering fans who had packed into a room further down the corridor and were watching a stream of the meeting could even be heard.

The petition attracted support from Labour leader Mick Scrimshaw and Cllr Clark Mitchell, who said he ‘didn’t even like football’ and still wanted the Poppies back in the town.

Leader of the council Russell Roberts - who had come under heavy criticism from Cllr Brown after he stood down from the leading Conservative group - then addressed the chamber.

He said: “I am very pleased to see that everyone wants to support the football club.

“We have been talking to Kettering Town Football Club and we will definitely continue to do so.

“I would love to see Kettering Town Football Club back in the town.”

Before the walk Simon Cox, who runs the Kettering Business Network and is on the committee at Wellingborough Town FC, said: “A club like Kettering needs to be playing in its home town.

“Just look at the support here tonight.

“There’s a stadium here that is just rotting away.”

A second bid to list the ground has already been made.

And with the evidence of community support made perfectly clear, it will be interesting to see how the bid turns out.