Keeping Poppies up is my best achievement, says boss Cox

Paul Cox insists keeping Kettering Town in the National League North ranks as his best achievement as a manager.

Friday, 1st May 2020, 7:45 am
Kettering Town manager Paul Cox completed the task of keeping the club in the National League North despite the season ending early. Pictures by Peter Short

The former Poppies centre-half was appointed as the club’s new boss at the end of October after Nicky Eaden was sacked following a poor start to the campaign that left the team entrenched in the bottom two.

Cox’s impact was immediate and while the season was cut short by the Covid-19 outbreak, the Poppies looked to be right on course to securing safety.

Another season in Step 2 now looks certain after the season was officially ended, although final positions are yet to be determined.

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Poppies boss Paul Cox

And while conceding it wasn’t always plain sailing, Cox feels the achievement of keeping Kettering up ranks alongside his other big achievements, which include a Conference title success as manager of Mansfield Town.

“I am over the moon to be honest,” the Poppies boss said.

“I said earlier in the season that I thought this would be my toughest test since I have been in management.

“I have had an immense sense of pride in what we have achieved because it has been really, really tough.

“It ranks up there as my best achievement. People will look at that and look at a championship, a promotion or big FA Cup games and stuff like but this has been different.

“When I came in, the owner (Ritchie Jeune), the chairman (David Mahoney) and Neil (vice-chairman and secretary Griffin) all said ‘just keep us up this year’.

“I looked at it when I first came in and I probably felt like it was something we could do without too many worries. But once I was in the scenario, it was always going to be harder than I imagined and that’s why it ranks so highly.

“It would have been nice to finish the season and to have caught up with a couple of games in hand to see if we could have finished a bit higher.

“But, having spoken to the owner and the chairman now, we have done what we set out to do.

“Even if they use the points per game ratio, I don’t think there’s any way we could be relegated.

“It was tough and it was a massive challenge but one I have enjoyed.

“And once we get back to a sense of normality, we can start looking at what I would describe as the next phase which is getting the club back to where I, at least, feel it should be.”

Cox looks set to remain at Kettering for the next season, whenever that may be, after he revealed that pre-season plans had already been put in place although they are now likely to change due to the social distancing measures currently implemented across the country.

Indeed, the Poppies boss admitted that as far as plans for next season are concerned, everything remains “on hold” for the time being.

“I have spoken to a lot of managers and clubs from top to bottom and no-one actually knows when things will restart,” he added.

“There have been rumours that nothing will start until September and there’s even been rumours that it won’t be until Christmas time.

“So, in terms of planning and talking to our players and others, everything is on hold at the moment.

“There are a lot of clubs, including ourselves, who will feel the pinch in terms of finances.

“I have kept in touch with the owner and the chairman but there’s only so much you can do.

“We had planned out our pre-season in terms of training sessions and start-back dates but we don’t know if we can implement that now.

“We have kept ourselves busy and the boys have had programmes which they have been working to but now the season has ended, it all feels a bit weird because we are still in that grey area.

“But until we get the feedback from the FA that we can do this or do that then every club in the country is going to be stuck in a void.”