THE BIG KICK-OFF: Kelly is back and 'raring to go' for Poppies

Marcus Kelly is back in Kettering Town colours this season. Picture by Paul Cooke
Marcus Kelly is back in Kettering Town colours this season. Picture by Paul Cooke

Marcus Kelly insists he is “really happy” to be back at Kettering Town.

The left-sided player made a surprise return to the Poppies this summer, six years after he left following a successful first stint with the club.
Kelly went on to play for the likes of Tamworth, Mansfield Town and Forest Green Rovers before joining Wrexham for whom he made over 40 appearances in the Vanarama National League last season.
The 32-year-old’s decision to drop two levels to return to Kettering came as a surprise to many.
Plenty has changed in the six years Kelly has been away with the Poppies, who were still at Rockingham Road
and in non-League’s top-flight when he departed, now plying their trade at Step 3 while they now play in the more modest surroundings of Latimer Park.
But local boy Kelly insists he was ready for a move closer to home and while Kettering’s ground has changed, he already feels right at home.
“I am really happy to be back, I am really enjoying it,” he said.
“Obviously being a local boy it’s a lot better than what I have been doing for past five or six years, travelling for three hours in the morning to get to training.
“I had plenty of full-time offers but they were all miles away and I got married last year and I have been away from home for a good five or six years.
“Kettering are on my doorstep, they offered me a deal and at this time of my life at 32 it’s a good opportunity to start thinking about what I am going to do after football as well.
“It all came at the right time.
“It’s still the same club and I have already seen the same faces.
“It’s just the ground that has changed but that’s over my head.
“I don’t know what went on over the last few years but the club is still the same to me and I am just glad to be back.”
Marcus Law will be hoping the returns of Kelly and Craig Westcarr over the summer will help propel the Poppies towards another push for promotion.
Despite racking up 97 points and scoring 122 goals, the Poppies could only finish fourth in the table last season and their hopes of moving up to the Vanarama National League system were ended as they were beaten 3-1 at Slough Town in the play-off semi-final.
They now find themselves in the new Evo-Stik South League Premier Division Central this season and they open the campaign with a trip to Hitchin Town on Saturday.
And that is then followed by an early-season showdown with highly-fancied King’s Lynn Town at Latimer Park next Tuesday night.
And Kelly insists the Poppies, who rounded off pre-season with a 2-0 victory over Bedford Town last weekend, are “raring to go” for the new campaign.
“Pre-season has been good,” he added.
“It’s not been easy with the dry pitches but I think we are feeling good and we are raring to go.
“I have come down a couple of levels but I still want to be winning every week.
“The target is to get promoted and hopefully we can do that.
“There will be big games coming thick and fast and we are looking forward to them.”