Baillie: Poppies fans need to see some good news

Thomas Baillie
Thomas Baillie

Thomas Baillie believes Kettering Town’s bewildered fanbase need to start seeing some “positive news”.

The Poppies boss saw his side thumped 6-2 by St Albans City at Steel Park on Wednesday night and the confirmation of their relegation from the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division now appears to be just two or three games away.

But the most telling statistic from another miserable evening was the attendance figure of just 154 – the lowest-ever in the club’s 140-year history for a first-class home fixture.

A club that once comfortably averaged well over 1,000 fans for a home match is now scrapping around to make it to three figures – the surest of signs that people have and are continuing to lose patience with the off-field issues.

Ritchie Jeune and his band of volunteers, who kept the club alive after it faced extinction towards the end of last year, are hoping to move the club back to the borough at Latimer Park in Burton Latimer for the start of next season.

Work has already started at Burton Park Wanderers’ home ground as they attempt to bring the club closer to its roots after Imraan Ladak led it away from Rockingham Road to Nene Park in the summer of 2011 – a move that so nearly proved to be fatal.

But while the work continues in the face of adversity, the bigger issues continue to lurk in the background. Those being the fact that Ladak still remains the majority shareholder, despite not having been involved for months, and that the club still remain tied to a long-term lease at the Irthlingborough stadium.

Baillie is in no doubt that the current problems the club is having are down to what went on before.

And he understands the fans’ – particularly those choosing to stay away – frustrations.

“There is a lot going on around the club,” the Kettering manager said.

“We had a meeting on Monday and one of the things I said was that there is a lot of hard work going on and that needs to start coming to fruition. Everyone knows what the points that need sorting are.

“We are struggling on the pitch but the club is struggling because of everything that has gone on before.

“There is nobody here now who is really responsible for the position the club finds itself in. As with all these situations, there are people who are left picking up the pieces and that’s exactly what they are trying to do.

“People will always say there is this or that going on that is keeping the fans away. But I think it is everything. The position of the club, the circumstances surrounding it and, let’s be fair, it has been going on for nearly three seasons. It’s not just about now.

“Now is the time where the things need to happen. I think the fans are buoyed by some of the things going on off the field and there is so much work being done by people who care about the club.

“But the fans need to see that and they need to see a team winning and doing well. We are where we are with the team at the moment. Sometimes it goes well and sometimes it doesn’t.

“It is everything into the pot that is making it a very difficult situation at the moment and that was my point in the meeting on Monday – the fans need to start seeing some positive news.”

Kettering are back in action at Corby Town’s home ground on Sunday when they take on play-off chasing Barwell (3pm).