Cox hopes things will be normal when Poppies return

The Kettering Town manager is turning his attention towards next season after the 2020/21 campaign was declared null and void

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 7:01 am
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox. Picture by Peter Short

Paul Cox is hoping a sense of normality will have resumed by the time Kettering Town return for pre-season.

The Poppies’ National League North campaign for 2020/21 has been declared null and void, just under a year after the 2019/20 season suffered the same fate due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It means that Cox is yet to have a full season in charge of Kettering, despite being appointed as manager more than 16 months ago.

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Kettering’s shortened season produced something of a mixed bag as they were sitting in 18th place after 14 games while they enjoyed a run to the fourth round of the Buildbase FA Trophy before losing out to league rivals Leamington in what proved to be their last match action of the campaign.

The season threw up various challenges, not least dealing with Covid-19 protocols and playing in empty stadia.

It’s been a period like no other but Cox is looking forward and should Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s ‘roadmap’ to bring the country out of lockdown come to fruition, next season could well start in normal circumstances.

The Poppies boss said: “My biggest frustration is that I have been here 16 months or so and I’ve not had a full season yet!

“In five to 10 years time, we will be looking back on this period and telling a few stories. I’ve never experienced anything like it and there hasn’t been a book to tell you how to deal with it.

“Everybody, whether you’re in football or not, has had to do the best they can and try to get on with things as best you can.

“From a football point of view, it’s been tough to plan and prepare and, looking back at this season, every time we seemed to put a bit of consistency together we seemed to be locked down again and that was frustrating.

“But I am not one for sitting around and crying over spilt milk. We have to get on with it and try to make good out of bad.

“I just hope that for society in general this is the last time we are locked down and there is a clear picture ahead for us all to get out and socialise.

“And hopefully we will be able to get back to playing football consistently in front of fans without all the stopping and starting.”

The decision to null and void the season hasn’t gone down well with a number of Step 2 teams who are lobbying both the National League and Football Association about trying to find a way to continue playing - something Cox says is their “prerogative”.

But the Kettering manager insists he and the club are ready to look ahead to next season.

“I have listened to all the arguments,” the Poppies boss added.

“I don’t think it was ever our club’s intention to say that just because we weren’t in a position to continue, everyone else should stop as well.

“There has been talk of those who want to continue carrying on in some form and that is their prerogative and we wish them all the best.

“We had to look at the bigger picture. The club continuing to play games in the future was more important than anything else.

“It was 100 per cent the right decision and I think everyone at our club was firmly behind it.

“In terms of us, the right decision has been made and we have to move on. There is a lot of planning to be done.”