Dean Thomas will reach a personal milestone when Kettering Town take on St Ives Town at Latimer Park this afternoon (3pm).
The match will be the Poppies boss’ 1,000 competitive game as a manager and he is hoping there will be plenty more to come as well as a bit of success for Kettering along the way.
Thomas spent a staggering 15 and a half years at the helm at Hinckley United, who went out of business earlier this season, racking up 972 matches in the process as he led them from the lower reaches of non-League football into the Conference North.
He joined Kettering as assistant to Thomas Baillie during the tough times of last season only for the pair to swap managerial roles in the summer.
And, after a rocky start to life as the Poppies boss in the Calor League Division One Central, Thomas now has his team in contention for a play-off place as they put a 12-match unbeaten run on the line today.
Thomas admits he has “seen it all” during his managerial career but he insists there is plenty more left in the tank.
“It’s nice to reach such a milestone and hopefully I will be able to add a few more to it,” the Kettering boss said.
“I had some great times at Hinckley after I had finished playing, I had a good chairman behind me and to stay at one club for that long was something that meant a lot to me.
“We had some fantastic days in the league and FA Cup and it was a shame things ended the way they did. But I left at the right time.
“It was brilliant to get back into the game with Thomas last season and I am excited about what lies ahead for Kettering.
“I know people had their doubts at the start of the season because we started poorly.
“But we have improved, people have seen that and I think the fans have taken to me now.”
The main order of business for Thomas’ milestone match, however, is to maintain the good run of form his team are on as well as trying to gain a bit of revenge on a St Ives team that dumped the Poppies out of the FA Trophy earlier this season.
He added: “We didn’t perform well that day and it was disappointing because we wanted to have a good run in that competition.
“We beat them in the league but lost that game so we want to try to rectify it if we can.
“Hopefully we will have a big crowd in and our aim is to give them something to shout about.”
Today’s clash, which should see former Corby Town frontman Josh Moreman make his debut for the Poppies after joining from Deeping Rangers late last week, is followed by a trip to fellow high-fliers Slough Town on Saturday.”