Baillie ready for “tremendous challenge” with Poppies

Thomas Baillie (left) has taken over as Kettering Town boss with Alan Doyle being recalled to his role of technical director
Thomas Baillie (left) has taken over as Kettering Town boss with Alan Doyle being recalled to his role of technical director

Thomas Baillie knows there is a “tremendous challenge ahead” on and off the pitch at Kettering Town.

But the new Poppies boss is relishing that challenge as he prepares to take charge of his first game at Bashley tomorrow (Saturday) in the Evo-Stik Southern League Premier Division.

Baillie has taken over from Alan Doyle, who is now back in his role of technical director, having previously been the assistant-manager while also having been previously been involved with the club as its head of youth.

And the new manager hasn’t given up hope on keeping Kettering in the division this season, even though the odds are stacked against them as they sit 15 points adrift of safety with 17 games to play.

But he knows there are bigger battles to win off the pitch with Imraan Ladak still being the majority shareholder while the club remains tied to a long-term lease at Nene Park.

The managerial reshuffle was announced by Ritchie Jeune, who is running the club along with a group of volunteers out of Corby Town’s Steel Park stadium.

Baillie said: “There is a tremendous challenge ahead for the club both on and off the pitch.

“It is difficult at the moment because people think there isn’t a lot going on behind the scenes. But there is lots going on and no-one wants to jump the gun.

“The people running things need to get sustainability and make sure the foundations are in place for the future. Not doing that is what put the club in trouble in the first place.

“I am sure more will be said on that as and when the time is right.

“But my remit is to do all I can to keep the club in the division. I have already said this week that we need a February like we had a December (when the Poppies won four games) and if we do then it might make things interesting. If we don’t then it will be very difficult.

“We will change one or two things and we could have as many as four new players for the game at Bashley and there may be one or two who we will be letting go as well as trying to get others more regular football elsewhere.

“We have a lot of work to do but it begins now and I am looking forward to it.”

Baillie, who confirmed he will be adding to the club’s backroom staff, also paid tribute to Doyle for the work he did when the Poppies hit financial meltdown in October, which resulted in them not playing matches for a month.

“I have spoken with Alan and he is fine with things,” Baillie added.

“He is a great guy and there is no doubt that he did so much for this club when many others would have walked away.

“He stuck by it and played a massive part in keeping it alive. Everyone should be grateful for that.

“People like Ritchie and Ken Samuel are working hard to ensure this club has a future and Alan will obviously have a big role to play in that as well.”