Corby's cheerleaders in action at Wicksteed ParkCorby's cheerleaders in action at Wicksteed Park
Corby's cheerleaders in action at Wicksteed Park

Knockout memories for Corby and Kettering TV competitors 40 years on

Teams from Corby and Kettering competed against Watford for the chance to represent the UK in Jeux Sans Frontières

More than 40 years ago, three teams of super fit athletes were preparing to do battle in one of BBC TV's most popular shows, It's A Knockout, drawing millions of viewers and thousands of spectators.

In 1980, both Corby and Kettering councils had been successful in bidding to take part in the prime-time programme and set about recruiting teams capable of facing the physical torments of cold water, moving platforms, slippery foam and greased surfaces and all whilst dressed in uncomfortable, ungainly costumes.

Both team captains, Jim Kelly for Corby and Kettering's Kim Davis held trials to form a super-fit squad to uphold civic pride at the event held at Wicksteed Park on Sunday April 27 1980.

Joining the two local teams were Watford who eventually finished second, one point behind victorious Kettering. Corby came third.

Corby team member John James, 67, remembered: "The team were great and I love the fact at one stage in my life I was regarded as an athlete.

"We should have won. I would say that in rehearsals we won just about everything, the team was superb.

"When we turned out for the actual game we did make a complaint on how much games had been altered, which would greatly affect our performance and it did seem as if the alterations made were aimed at Corby. We were told if you don't like it, leave.

"The best thing for me was the coming together of people from different backgrounds and not only having great fun but hopefully giving a great time to people who enjoyed the event both live and on the TV."

Kettering captain 66-year-old Kim Davis, who lives in Rothwell with wife Jane, who was also in the Kettering It's A Knockout team, has five scrap books chronicling his team's journey from regionals to nationals, and internationals.

He said: "We had about 300 people turn out in the Drill Hall for our first meeting. I was asked to put together a squad and train them

"We had a very strong squad and the girls in particular were very strong. "

Kim's Kettering 'Kestrals' went on to represent Britain in the then Yugoslavia, finishing third.

Later in the year they were crowned British champions in an all-UK final in Charnock Richard, Lancashire.

Kim, a PE teacher and player for Irthlingborough Diamonds, said: "It was exciting at the time. I even got to switch on the Kettering Christmas lights.

"For a while spectators would shout at me 'are you going to play the joker on that?'. It was all good natured.

"It was good for the town."

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