Jon Dunham – Ritchie Jeune, a miracle man

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

After the best part of two years of financial turmoil, it looks like Kettering Town are finally able to look to the future.

Having been in and around the club during that time, I know probably as well as anyone just how close the Poppies came on more than one occasion to folding.

It was just over a year ago when they were beaten 7-0 by Bashley at Nene Park having been able to field only 10 players. That was the day when it seemed the club had run its natural course.

But where there is a will, there is a way.

And while he will (and rightly so) quickly point to the efforts of fans and volunteers, Ritchie Jeune is the man who has to take the credit for getting Kettering back on their feet.

A man with no previous affinity to the Poppies, Jeune took it upon himself to try to find an answer to their problems. It has taken time, but it seems he has got there.

Monday was a strange day. The tension from fans on social media sites was incredible and the sense of relief when the news filtered through that the winding-up order had been rescinded was something to behold.

It is, of course, not yet over. The agreed sum still needs to be paid to Rushden & Diamonds (2008) Ltd for the winding-up petition to be dismissed on November 4.

But there have been assurances that the funds are in place and that it should be a fairly simple process.

Jeune was probably right when he uttered the words ‘never say never’ when he was asked whether this was the last of the issues facing the club. After what has transpired over the past year, it is wise to be cautious.

But somehow, some way, he has led them to the point where the focus can once again be on football.

Lessons have surely been learned. And hopefully they are lessons that other clubs will take on board.

The supporters of Kettering Town have been to the very depths and have been fortunate enough to see their club almost literally come back from the dead.

Others haven’t been quite so lucky in the past and even on the same day that the Poppies got their slice of good news, a thought had to be spared for the followers of Hinckley United who saw their own club go out of business.

What Jeune has accomplished over the past year is nothing short of a miracle and everyone who has an association with the Poppies should be extremely grateful that he was willing to put himself on offer in a bid to preserve the club’s history.

The story caught the imagination of football fans across the world, a sure sign of how highly-regarded Kettering are.

Perhaps the most interesting interview I did in the wake of Monday’s outcome was with the Kettering Town (Poppies) Supporters Trust chairman Mark Severn, who was struggling to grasp the fact that his club were not only alive but now able to look towards the future. It has been a while since that has been possible.

The club are settled back in the borough. They aren’t doing too badly on the pitch of late and the attendances would suggest that the fans are right behind them. That is good to see, it means what has been done has been worth it.

It is good news that Kettering Town are alive and well. This area is better off for having them around than not.

So take a bow Mr Jeune. No-one really understands why you stuck around when it was easier to walk away. But you and the Poppies fans have been rewarded.

Let’s just hope that is the end of the madness...