Jon Dunham – Get ready for another interesting eight months

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Here we go then.

The dawning of a new season for Corby Town and Kettering Town is upon us and it would seem both have high hopes for their respective Calor League Premier Division and Division One Central campaigns.

Let’s start with the Steelmen, who have kept faith with manager Chris Plummer following their last-day relegation from Conference North last season.

Pre-season has proved tricky for Corby. They have won just one friendly and it ended with a 5-0 hammering at the hands of Bishop’s Stortford last weekend.

But it’s what matters at Steel Park tomorrow that really matters as they open their season with a clash against newly-promoted Burnham.

It is a big season for Plummer, there is no question about that. Chairman Kevin Ingram has stuck by him and given him the chance to build a new-look squad, albeit on a tight budget.

But the additions of player-coach Mark Arber, striker Tom Berwick and midfielder Chris Carruthers look decent while the likes of Paul Malone, Paul Walker, Josh Moreman, Gareth Jelleyman and Sam Ives have all stayed to try to help right the wrongs from last season.

Ingram and Plummer have both made their intentions clear – the target is promotion at the first attempt.

It certainly won’t be easy and one would think a good start will be needed if Plummer is to keep the fans on side and also boost home attendances that flagged during a tough struggle last time out.

That brings us to the white knuckle ride that is more commonly known as Kettering Town in these parts.

It is fair to say that last season will be remembered as the worst in the club’s 140 years of history. Financial meltdown, which almost resulted in the club folding, a whole change of squad mid-season, humiliating results and attendances and another relegation. Yes, it wasn’t the best.

But just when the Poppies fans though the light at the end of the tunnel was a runaway train, Ritchie Jeune and his loyal band of volunteers finally changed the game.

His takeover from Imraan Ladak was long awaited and most welcome. And they will know later today whether the hard work at Latimer Park has paid off as they look to play their first home game of the season against Barton Rovers on Tuesday in their new surroundings.

There are one or two more hurdles to overcome for the Poppies but it’s fair to say a feel-good factor has re-appeared at the club. It has been a long time coming.

And, provided things can be stabilised off the pitch, there is no reason why they can’t have a good one on it.

Dean Thomas was the right appointed for the club at this point. He has all the experience in the world and took Hinckley United through the leagues.

He has signed some good players and pre-season has been encouraging, particularly the final two performances at Barwell and Stamford.

I, like many, don’t really know what the Poppies will be up against this season but I would suggest that, at this moment in time, their squad will probably be as strong as most in the division.

But in reality I am sure most Kettering fans will just take a season where they can enjoy the football again instead of having to contend with dreadful situations off it.

Whether you are a Steelman or a Poppy, I hope you enjoy the next eight months or so. It’s bound to be interesting, it always is!