OPINION: So what next for Kettering Town after Cox's shock departure?

Jon Dunham gives his thoughts following the news that Paul Cox had resigned as Kettering Town manager and was immediately appointed as the new boss at Boston United

By Jon Dunham
Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 8:07 am
Updated Saturday, 22nd January 2022, 8:10 am
Paul Cox resigned as manager of Kettering Town and was immediately installed as the new boss of Boston United. Picture by Peter Short
Paul Cox resigned as manager of Kettering Town and was immediately installed as the new boss of Boston United. Picture by Peter Short

It seems the bombshell news of Paul Cox’s resignation as manager of Kettering Town was exactly that - a bombshell.

There were no whispers, no rumours, nothing.

Indeed, if my sources are on the money, Cox was at training with the squad on Thursday night as normal as they prepared for today’s (Saturday) trip to Bradford (Park Avenue) and there was no indication from anyone that this was coming.

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Former Boston manager Craig Elliott could be a potential candidate for the Poppies

It seems things developed solely on Friday and when Boston United came calling, Cox clearly found it to be an opportunity too attractive to turn down.

Don’t get me wrong, I can understand why he opted to go.

Boston, unquestionably, have better resources at hand than Kettering. A bigger budget, a better stadium, a better pitch and, perhaps, better prospects to move up to the next level and beyond a lot quicker than the Poppies.

On the other hand, Cox did seem committed to the job at Latimer Park.

Ian Culverhouse would surely be towards the top of any shortlist after his impressive work at King's Lynn Town

He often spoke of the ‘five-year plan’ to get the club back into non-League football’s top flight and whatever was said to him earlier in the season when AFC Telford United came calling clearly persuaded him to remain at Kettering instead of taking the jump at that stage.

I don’t doubt that he was committed to the job at the Poppies. I just think he feels Boston is a more attractive job and, as already observed, I can see why he would think that.

So, what next for Kettering?

It can’t be argued that Cox has put together a decent team on, for the level of football, a threadbare budget and the timing of his departure is probably the most frustrating thing given that things seem to have really clicked in the last few games.

Former Kettering assistant-manager Mitch Austin has been doing a fine job down the road at Harborough Town and could be a 'wildcard' candidate. Picture by Andrew Carpenter

Three wins in the last four have sent the Poppies into eighth place in the Vanarama National League North - ironically just one point and one place behind Boston.

It’s important that this good work does not go to waste and that’s why Kettering must move as quickly as they can to get the next manager in the door.

Academy director and former player Luke Graham and technical director Alan Doyle are safe pairs of hands for today’s game.

They know their stuff and, if they can get a positive result this afternoon, then they will surely put themselves into the mix.

As you would expect, social media was alive last night with Poppies fans, having got over the initial shock, speculating about who might be next.

There do seem to be a couple of obvious options if those involved could be persuaded.

If you believed the rumour mill, you’d have thought Ian Culverhouse was a certainty for the Boston job.

He recently left National League side King’s Lynn Town but the Poppies will be all too aware of the job he did at the Walks when he guided the Linnets to back-to-back promotions against all the odds.

He’s available and will surely be towards the top of any shortlist.

As would, you would think, Craig Elliott who was in the Boston hotseat immediately before Cox but was sacked after a disappointing run of form.

However, there was nothing but good feeling between the two parties following his exit. Boston supporters speak highly of the manager and he has made it clear he would like to get back into the game as soon as possible.

Maybe Kettering could go in a different direction? What about taking a chance on a manager performing well further down the ladder. There is, after all, risk in every managerial appointment.

There are managers performing well and, without any hard evidence to go with them, I could pluck a few names out of the air - Jimmy Dean (at Peterborough Sports), former Kettering assistant-manager Mitch Austin (at Harborough Town) and, dare I actually say this, Andy Peaks (at AFC Rushden & Diamonds).

The one thing that is certain is that Kettering must move quickly.

One immediate fear for supporters will be the squad being torn apart by the stunning events of yesterday. Will Cox come calling for some of the Poppies’ stars? That concern is a legitimate one.

The best way to try to prevent it from happening is by making a swift appointment and that’s what I expect the Poppies to do.

Who it will be, however, is now the million dollar question…