Jon Dunham - It’s still June and football is already on the mind

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
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So, it is not even the last weekend of June and already the attention is on the start of the new football season.

With the Premier League and Football League fixtures being released this week, the appetites of fans up and down the country have been whetted.

And, on a local scale, the countdown to the new campaign is under way after a flurry of activity at both Corby Town and Kettering Town.

From the Steelmen’s point of view, there was little doubt that they were waiting until after the respective Conference and Southern League annual meetings before beginning their moves towards the new season.

The ‘AGM Cup’ as it is playfully known, can sometimes throw up the odd surprise here or there and, as Corby were the last of the teams to be relegated from the Conference North, it is perhaps understandable that they waited until they knew for certain which division they would be playing in from August.

And they have set their stall out from the off. Having been, as expected, placed in the Southern League Premier Division, the Steelmen are making no secret of their ambitions. They want promotion and they want to get back into the Conference North at the first attempt.

They have stuck with Chris Plummer, a sensible move in my opinion, and already a spine of a the side has appeared with goalkeeper Paul Walker, Corby’s own Paul Malone, Sam Ives and new boy Tom Berwick giving the squad a good, early look. Throw in Gareth Jelleyman and the vastly experienced Chris Carruthers and the left-hand side already looks pretty good.

There have been changes aplenty off the field as well with three new directors arriving so far while stalwarts Ian Hopewell and Martin Harris have called time on their stays at Steel Park.

It is all change at Corby and perhaps it did need freshening up following the bitter disappointment on the final day of the season. We can expect lots more to happen over the next couple of weeks.

The Kettering Town story, as ever, continues to intrigue.

As far as on-field matters are concerned, Dean Thomas is doing exactly what I and everyone else who has seen him work in the past expected. He is throwing together a nice mix of youth and experience and is wasting little time in doing it.

At the time of writing, 14 players are signed up. Thomas will look to have a squad of 18, don’t be surprised if the further arrivals are of a high-profile nature. Henry Eze is likely to be one of them, Jean-Paul Marna may be another. They might not admit it but Kettering will be also be targeting promotion this season.

But, and this is where the record keeps jumping, it is the off-pitch matters that continue to dominate the headlines as far as the Poppies are concerned.

Will they start the new season at Latimer Park? Indeed, will they start the new season at all? Lest we forget, they are back in court on Monday for the next hearing over the winding-up petition from HM Revenue & Customs, although I have heard little to suggest that situation won’t be sorted.

And then, on Tuesday, the club have called a fans’ forum to be held in Kettering. That promises to be a fascinating evening.

Ritchie Jeune is set to give an update on the whole situation at the club from the winding-up petition, to the CVA, to the key issue of ownership.

As ever, plenty of rumours are doing the rounds. Some people think they know it all, indeed I could well be classed in that category.

But I will be heading to that forum on Tuesday keen to hear what the real story is.

The only thing I do know is that Jeune is still in there, fighting to give the club a future. He has already gone the distance and would surely not stick around for this long if he didn’t feel there was a good chance it can survive and even flourish in the future.

But (and there’s always a but) it wouldn’t be Kettering Town if that nagging feeling wasn’t in the back of your mind...