Jon Dunham – The highs and lows of football are there for all to see

Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.
Northamptonshire Telegraph's sports writers Jon Dunham, Jim Lyon and Alec Swann.

Highs and lows are something that are part and parcel of football.

If you commit yourself to following a football club, you have to be prepared for the darker days as well as the ones that bring you so much joy.

This is something I have already started to explain to my football-crazy five-year-old son who, given his young mind, I have successfully persuaded to join his ‘old man’ in following the fortunes of our beloved Norwich City.

‘If you are going to follow the Canaries, you have to accept losing. You don’t have to like it but you have to accept it’. Or something along those lines, is what I have been known to say to him after another defeat!

Every football fan is the same. They hate it when their team loses. But they keep coming back for more in the hope they will experience the ultimate high of a title, a promotion or one of those standout results that will live long in the memory.

And it is fair to say that those who follow the fortunes of our clubs in this area must be of strong mind and hold those thoughts already mentioned close to heart.

Take AFC Rushden & Diamonds, for example.

A club that was formed by fans of Rushden & Diamonds after they met their sticky end. They experienced the ultimate low of seeing their club disappear.

But, as has been well-documented by me and plenty of others, they bounced back with a determination to do things the right way.

A solid fanbase is in place (a brilliant fanbase for the level they are at), they have worked their way up one league and last weekend they saw their side achieve one of those results they won’t forget.

Given their stunning form at the Dog & Duck, it didn’t come as a huge surprise to see Mark Starmer’s men beat Cambridge City but it does go down as a huge upset in the early stages of the FA Cup. It was one of those days that would have made going through the worst low all worth it.

Reaching the second qualifying round is a massive achievement for any United Counties League, to move on into the next stage is even better. Dover Athletic should be wary ahead of next weekend.

Corby Town are, perhaps, another decent example.

Relegated on the last day of last season, uncertainty over the club’s future – those loyal Steelmen fans would have been unsure of what lay ahead.

But they are too are into the third qualifying round of the FA Cup having claimed a sixth win in a row at Steel Park – a fantastic achievement at any level.

Once again, I find myself wondering why more people in a football-mad town aren’t coming along to have a look at the Steelmen. Maybe the penny will drop at some point? But if their joint-managers can help the players get it right on the road, then perhaps there are even more highs to come.

It all brings us to Kettering Town, who could well experience the lowest of lows on Monday.

There has been an agonising wait since the club was wound up over the debt owed to Rushden & Diamonds (2008) Ltd. But we are now just hours away from what, in all probability, will be the Poppies’ final day in court regardless of the outcome.

A mass fundraising effort by fans across the country (and the world for that matter) has shown that the football community is with them.

But come Monday, it appears only the views of a judge will be what count.

It seems ironic that this defining day should come almost a year to the day that the Poppies were beaten 7-0 at home by Bashley when able to field only 10 players. I, like many, thought it was all over that day as the financial problems hit their height.

But, whether you like the club or not, there have been people who have fought with everything they have to keep them alive.

The new season promised happier times with a new owner and a new home back in the borough. Ultimately, there were more twists to come that have led us to next week.

Tomorrow’s (Saturday) FA Trophy clash has been advertised with the club posing the big question themselves – ‘Will it be the last ever Poppies game?’

By the end of Monday, we will know the answer as the Poppies fans pray for the best while fearing the worst.

Should it go against them, will the highest of highs they have experienced in the past be worth it? Probably not, indeed all this has very little to do with football.

But, despite what many might say, there is always a tomorrow. It just depends what you want to do with it...