Should Kettering Town’s home clash with Stratford Town go ahead this weekend, the players will be wearing the famous ‘Kettering Tyres’ kit to mark a key anniversary in the club’s history.
It was 40 years ago that the Poppies’ then CEO Derek Dougan netted a ‘four figure sum’ to have ‘Kettering Tyres’ blazoned across the club’s home shirts in what was the first-ever example of shirt sponsorship in football in the United Kingdom.
Kettering wore the shirts for the first time when they played Bath City at Rockingham Road before wearing them again for the clash at Weymouth the following week.
The FA ordered the removal of the logo with Dougan taking away four letters to leave ‘Kettering T’ on the shirts. But, when threatened with a £1,000 fine, it was removed completely.
The Poppies, Derby County and Bolton Wanderers applied to carry shirt sponsorship at the start of the next season and, in June 1977, the FA finally conceded.
The rest is history with shirt sponsorships now bringing in millions of pounds for clubs at all levels.
The ‘Kettering Tyres’ shirts will be worn by the current Poppies players this weekend and next Saturday when, ironically, they travel to Weymouth.
Boss Marcus Law said: “It’s very important that this anniversary is marked. It is nice that we are working for a club that led the way.
“When you think about how much that original deal was worth and how much is paid out to the top clubs this days, it’s staggering really.
“It was a shame Kettering couldn’t patent it!
“But what the club did 40 years ago has paved the way for the rewards that clubs across the world now get and it’s so important to remember that.
“The players wearing the shirts is the perfect way to mark the occasion.”
Law, meanwhile, insists he and his players will prepare as normal for the clash, which is still in doubt after Tuesday’s home game with Dorchester Town was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
He added: “We will prepare as well as we can right up to the point when we know whether the game will be on or not.
“That’s what happened last weekend. We were about to be changed and ready to go out there when the game at Slough was called off.
“We will prepare properly and we will have a full squad to choose from if the game does go ahead.”