Retro: When Poppies last played in Kettering

News that Kettering Town could be in line for a surprise return to the town has been greeted warmly by fans of the club.

The club last week announced plans for a potential move to the former Avondale School site off Laburnum Crescent.

Poppies Overgrown : Kettering: former Kettering Town FC football pitch on Rockingham Road overgrown pitch''Friday 20h July 2012 ENGNNL00120120720131214

Poppies Overgrown : Kettering: former Kettering Town FC football pitch on Rockingham Road overgrown pitch''Friday 20h July 2012 ENGNNL00120120720131214

If that plan goes ahead, the Avondale site would be just the latest in a number of homes the Poppies have occupied since the club was founded in 1872.

The Poppies originally played their home games at North Park and Eldred Field, eventually making a move to the Rockingham Road ground in 1897.

The club remained at Rockingham Road for more than a century.

It was in 2011 when Kettering Town made their ill-fated switch to Nene Park, the former home of Rushden & Diamonds.

The Poppies were only to remain there for about 18 months – the cost of maintaining the ground proved prohibitive – and the club moved out to play a handful of fixtures at Steel Park, the home of Corby Town.

The Rockingham Road ground was repossessed in December 2011.

A notice was placed outside the stadium which read: “Pursuant to Clause 5 of the [May 1998 lease between Kettering Town Management Ltd and Ben Pickering Ltd], we as authorised agents of the said Ben Pickering Ltd have this day re-entered the premises demised by the said lease and the said lease is thereby determined absolutely”.

Following that temporary move, the Poppies reached an agreement to share Latimer Park, the home of Burton Park Wanderers, where they have been ever since.

The Telegraph has hundreds of photos in its archives of action from matches played at Rockingham Road over the decades.

Some of these are even aerial shots provided to the paper, showing the ground and surrounding housing.

The stadium was large by the standards of most non-league clubs, boasting a capacity of more than 6,200, of which about 1,800 was seated.

Success in the FA Cup means the Poppies hosted a number of league sides at Rockingham Road over the years.

In the 2008/09 season, Kettering enjoyed a successful run in the FA Cup, beating Lincoln City, Notts County and Eastwood Town to reach the fourth round.

They were drawn to face Premier League Fulham at home in the fourth round.

The match was played out in front of more than 5,400 fans, and the Poppies accredited themselves well, scoring two goals, both of them to pull level, and looking like they could earn a draw and replay. However, Fulham eventually scored two more goals to win the match 4-2.

The following season, Kettering Town reached the second round of the FA Cup and earned another glamour tie against Leeds United at Rockingham Road.

That match was played out in front of 4,800 fans and the Poppies managed a creditable 1-1 draw.

The replay, at Elland Road, saw Leeds United win 5-1.

Following the Poppies departure in 2011, and the subsequent repossession, just a few months later, the stadium has fallen into disrepair.

A quick Google search for the ground reveals photos taken by a number of people who have visited the stadium since the Poppies moved out.

They show sad images of a very overgrown playing field, rubbish and objects strewn in the stands and vandalised offices and rooms inside the club buildings.

The future of the Rockingham Road stadium is now unclear – and it is probably unlikely that it will ever be used as a sporting venue ever again – but these photos are a reminder of better days.