REVIEW – Great escape was not to be as Steelmen drop again

There was more misery for Corby Town and their fans following a second successive relegation
There was more misery for Corby Town and their fans following a second successive relegation

Being a Corby Town fan can’t have been an easy thing for the past couple of years.

Regardless of what happens from here under the new regime of David Bell after his apppointment as manager was confirmed last night (Wednesday), it won’t undo what was, ultimately, another disastrous campaign at Steel Park.

Ben Milnes was one of the better performers in a tough campaign

Ben Milnes was one of the better performers in a tough campaign

After relegation from the National League North last year, a change of approach was taken by Tommy Wright. A squad, largely made up of young players, was thrown together for the Evo-Stik Northern Premier League Premier Division.

It was a brave decision, which simply didn’t work. The damage was done inside the first two months of the season with just one win, ironically over eventual champions Blyth Spartans, being gained from the first 14 matches.

Gary Mills, accompanied by Bell, arrived following Wright’s departure and the slide continued up until a 4-0 loss at Grantham Town on Boxing Day.

Bottom of the league, 12 points adrift of safety, there was no hope.

But then, things changed. A squad with far more experience gelled and a superb run at the turn of the year saw the Steelmen gradually bring themselves back from the dead.

After they had beaten fellow strugglers Sutton Coldfield Town 5-1 at Steel Park on March 11, Corby were two places above the drop-zone and seemingly heading for the greatest of escapes.

However, in a season that threw up more ups and downs than your standard rollercoaster, a run that saw them pick up just one point from a possible 15 changed the game again and ultimately resulted in Mills’ sacking.

The last throw of the dice came with academy director Steve Kinniburgh taking the reins. Back-to-back wins over Stafford Rangers and Grantham put them in charge and left them needing to simply match Sutton’s result on the final day.

But what transpired was a miserable display, a 4-1 loss at Coalville Town and a second relegation in 12 months as Sutton’s draw at Workington condemned Corby to the drop.

The blame, as you can see from these words, could possibly be shared equally.

Mills deserves credit for leading them into a position of pulling it off, Kinniburgh also worthy of praise for nearly finishing the job.

But, in the end, it was not to be.

Corby will be playing at Step Four for the first time in 11 years next season and it Bell who has been tasked with the job of changing their fortunes.

The fans continued to back their club, even in the darkest of times, they and they alone deserve a lot better when August rolls around.

Jon Dunham’s unofficial player of the season – Ben Milnes.

Even in the worst of times, Ben Milnes was the one shining light for the Steelmen.

Able to get the ball down, make things happen and score the odd important goal or two, Milnes was the one who made Corby tick.

As the bid for the great escape gathered pace, Milnes led the way under. It will be tough to keep him at a lower level.