Kettering Town 0 AFC Telford United 0

Saturday 12th December 2020 – 3pm KO at Latimer Park in the National League North

Definition of “Proper football” – A competitive game played out by two evenly matched teams on a muddy pitch. Or at least that is one way to describe this 0-0 game that always had the potential to become something but ultimately ended up delivering nothing, in terms of a win at least.

Kettering Town will always have a part in the history of the game. They were the first club to put a sponsorship logo on their shirts, back in January 1976 when a, albeit short term deal thanks to the FA’s heavy handed approach, deal was signed with local company Kettering Town. Around the same time they made three unsuccessful applications to join the Football League.

The club were forced out of their Rockingham Road ground in 2011 after the club went into administration, leading them on a nomadic journey around various ground shares in Northamptonshire before they moved in with current Step 5 Burton Park Wanderers a few hundred yards from the A14 seven years ago. Kettering have invested in a covered stand behind the goal which sits juxtapositioned with the old grandstands.

The relaxation of the COVID-19 restrictions had seen the fans being able to return to Latimer Park, with approximately 700 allowed to attend. The club handled the crowds perfectly, trying to reinforce social distancing and mask wearing, especially in the Kettering stand behind the goal. The low winter sun made watching the game for most tough in the first half but in truth nobody really missed anything of note with a steady stream of fans exiting the ground for the bar at half time.

I have no idea if the two teams have any history but from the first moment there was an ‘edge’. In the first half there were, as broadcasters would say, multiple “coming togethers” between the two sides. None of them were particularly serious but on each occasion the players came together to discuss the incident, none more so that the Kettering Town centre-forward Kyle Perry who loved to put his opinion across.

Neither team deserved a win to be honest on a freezing cold afternoon – the stats don’t lie when they showed that the away side edged the Goals on Target score by 2-1, with neither keeper having to make any save of note. But for fans, they were all winners, being able to return to the stadium, see their friends and even have a beer. It may not have been the best game but it was a game that hundreds of fans were able to at least enjoy as an early Christmas present.

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