A season of ups and downs would certainly be the best way to describe Corby Town’s 2017-18 campaign.
Having suffered back-to-back relegations, there was a real sense of optimism at Steel Park during last summer with David Bell taking the managerial reins having been the assistant-boss at the club during the second half of last season.
It looked, on paper at least, that Bell had assembled a squad that would more than hold its own in the Evo-Stik League South and any optimism was only enhanced after they thumped Romulus 5-1 at Steel Park on the opening day.
Unfortunately, it proved to be a false dawn as a run of 12 matches without a win in all competitions, including another early exit from the FA Cup, left the Steelmen languishing at the wrong end of the table.
A 2-1 defeat at Chasetown proved to be the final straw as Bell was sacked with academy boss Steve Kinniburgh placed in caretaker-charge.
Every new manager can probably expect some sort of ‘bounce’ but whatever Kinniburgh did to galvanise the Corby squad certainly worked!
They won their next six league matches and even enjoyed some success in the FA Trophy as they steered themselves away from trouble and, such was the closeness of the division for a time, stormed up the table towards the play-off places.
The season hit its peak two days before Christmas when the Steelmen incredibly moved into the second automatic promotion place with a fine 3-1 victory over Spalding United at Steel Park.
They had, however, played more games than most and Kinniburgh’s first sticky spell at the turn of the year, which brought with it six defeats in a row, pretty much summed up the season and ended any hope of finishing in the play-off places.
To their credit, the young Steelmen squad saw out the season with plenty of effort and, given the start the club endured, a ninth-placed finished was probably about right.
Kinniburgh’s efforts were rewarded when he was confirmed as the new permanent manager towards the end of the campaign and now all eyes will be on him.
He is a young manager but someone who has the enthusiasm and drive that is certainly appreciated by the faithful fans at Steel Park.
He’s done a fine job of introducing some of the club’s rising stars into the first-team picture and it’s clear he won’t be afraid to continue to do that.
But, if a promotion challenge is to be launched in August, there is some serious work to do.
Defensive frailties need to be fixed, some experienced heads are needed to help guide the youngsters that Kinniburgh will put his
faith in and key men such as Jordon Crawford must be retained.
But the likeable Scot has earned his shot at leading the Steelmen into the next campaign and if the players match his drive, desire and enthusiasm, they will give themselves a chance of achieving something...