Kettering Town 'Poppies' Supporter's Trust

Letter to prospective Parliamentary Candidates

Posted on Saturday May 20th 2017

As you will be aware, there is a general election on June 8th.

With this in mind, the Trust board thought it would be useful to try and obtain the views of all the prospective parliamentary candidates for Kettering, regarding the value of local sport, and the Poppies attempts to find a permanent home.

We have sent the following letter to all the candidates, and will publish any responses we receive, in order to help people make an informed choice at the ballot box.

Best wishes 

The Poppies Trust Board


Dear Candidate

Kettering Town Football Club was founded in 1872, making it the oldest senior football club in Northants, and, indeed, one of the oldest in the world.

Since those Victorian days, no sporting body has done more to put the town of Kettering on the map, not least through the club’s FA Cup exploits, a competition in which no team in the land has scored more goals than the Poppies.

Today, not only is the club represented by its first-team squad, but by hundreds of players drawn from the community it serves, boys and girls; with teams ranging in age from primary school kids to veterans, all of whom proudly wear the red shirt.

Kettering’s supporters, too, have played their part in the community, with the Supporters Trust’s various activities including staging a very successful exhibition of the club’s history in the town’s museum and arranging fund-raising evenings in conjunction with local charities.

Since 1872 some three million people have watched the Poppies play their home matches, through good times and bad, and we believe Kettering Town FC to be a genuine asset to the constituency you are hoping to represent for the next five years.

Therefore, we would respectfully ask:

What value do you place on local sport as a cultural pastime, both from a playing and spectating point of view; and how high a priority would you give to helping secure the Poppies a permanent home for the benefit of generations to come?

Thank you for taking the time to consider our correspondence, and we look forward to your reply, which we will share with as many people as possible who have the club at heart.

Yours Sincerely

Karen Lewis (Chair)

On behalf of the Kettering Town (Poppies) Supporters Trust



Dear Karen,

Thank you for your email.

Local sport is incredibly important to me as well as, I believe, to the town as a whole. As a teenager, I played cricket and rugby for Kettering at junior level and also played football in the Weetabix League. As well as the sheer enjoyment it gave me, as well as the obvious health benefits it gives to young people, I think it taught me a lot about respect and teamwork and it also opened me up to a to a whole new friendship group. Although I still play the occasional game of 5-a-side, I’m much more of a spectator these days, but I enjoy watching sport as much as I enjoyed playing it.  

At the 2015 General Election I met with Ritchie Jeune to talk about his vision for the club. I also stated publicly that bringing KTFC back to Rockingham Road would be one of my top priorities for the town if elected (please see: https://ketteringonlinenews.wordpress.c ... en-agenda/) and would be so again in 2017.  

I remember watching matches at Rockingham Road on a Saturday afternoon, and walking up Britannia Road on the way back home to the house where my parents still live now, just in time to hear the other results come in from across the country. I want children in this town to have the opportunities in making those same special memories that I had. Furthermore, from a Green perspective, returning to Rockingham Road makes even more sense – why knock down a great football ground, when we have a football team looking for a football ground?

I think that a local football team is fundamental to the character and identity of a town and would 100% be behind securing the Poppies a permanent home in Kettering and, as long as supporters want that home to be Rockingham Road, I will support them in that fight.

Rob Reeves
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate for Kettering


Dear Karen

As you perhaps already know I have spoken publically to give my support to the idea of Kettering Town FC moving back into Kettering on more than one occasion, and you may remember managed to get the leader of Kettering Borough Council to agree to hold talks with the club to see if there was any help they could offer.

I understand that the football club is a massively important part of our local community and part of the town’s history and culture, and as such an asset to the town itself. If elected to be Kettering’s MP I would offer to meet directly with the club to offer any help, support or influence I could, as well as continue to work with local politicians of any party and others to try and help bring about a move back to Kettering which is something as a local resident myself I strongly wish to happen.

Kind Regards

Mick Scrimshaw

Dear Karen Lewis,

Thank you for taking the time to ask the Lib Dems about our views on both local sport and the Poppies.  

To try to place a value on local sport would be near mission impossible; it is more a case of how impoverished our communities would be without it.  To try and imagine any local community deprived of their local sports teams and clubs is to take out a core part of that community.  Local sports and their clubs are often a focal point in our villages, towns and cities across the country and the growth and popularity of a places' favorite team has so often gone hand in hand with the prosperity of an area.  So deeply connected are local sports to their communities that for many people if they were to imagine a quintessential English village green on a summer’s afternoon the local cricket team would feature.  The grit and determination of our children, and parents on the sidelines, in Saturday football leagues up and down the country is as much a part of growing up here as Little League is in the USA.  Whilst our town and city amateur boxing clubs full of budding Antony Joshua’s epitomize that 'never give up' attitude these islands are famous for.  Local sports clubs however are not just a place people go to take part once a week or so in their favorite sport, they are so much more than that.  They are a hub of a community that so often transcends generations and social divides, they bring people together in a way that other groups cannot and in many ways they become a home from home and the 'family' you choose.  I know my own family has a rather special place for a cricket team, the cricket team in question has had its ups and downs over the decades it isn't the highest scoring team in the country, or even the county but for us it is like an extended family.  3 generations of my family have played for them at one point or another and if they can't be found on the pitch they can be found supporting the club in other ways whether that is socially or fundraising for community projects.  My family’s commitment to their local cricket team is the same as 100s of thousands of families’ across the UK who have a special connection to their local sports team.  It is that 'special connection' that makes our local sports clubs so much more than a place you go to just watch a game.   Like Kettering Supporters Trust local sports supporters everywhere help raise much needed funds for the communities they know and cherish. So when you ask about what value would someone place on local sport it isn't that easy.

The Poppies current position of having grounds outside of Kettering is something the Lib Dems have and do actively campaign on.  Our view is that that Kettering town deserves to have its team back and playing on a ground that will work into the future. We don't just support the Poppies on match days, like some others we have supported the Poppies in trying to get grounds back in Kettering, only to have proposals turned down by the Conservative majority Borough Council.  As an important local issue that deeply affects not only Poppies fans and supporters but also the towns of Kettering and Burton Latimer we will continue to fight to bring the Poppies back home.  As you have said in your email you 'believe Kettering Town FC to be a genuine asset to the constituency’, we do as well.

Kind regards
Suzanna Austin

Liberal Democrat Parlimentary Candidate Kettering Constituency

* As we were unsure whether or not our email had reached Philip Hollobone, a paper copy of the letter was sent to his home address, and a text message was sent to his mobile number, in order to give him a fair chance to be able to respond. In response to the text message, Philip did call us back. He said that he was unable to email a response at this time, as his account was shut down during the election, but he would happily answer any questions if we asked them over the phone. We therefore asked him the questions contained in the email, and here is a transcription of that response:


"I place lots of value on local sport - all sports, including Rugby, Hockey, Cricket, Tennis, and others that I can't think of off the top of my head. I also place lots of importance on supporting the club, the Trust, and I believe another supporters organisation in finding a solution to the ground situation. You will remember that I recently supported a motion at Kettering Borough Council, which was amended and improved by the Conservative group, to hold talks regarding the potential solutions. This amended motion received cross party support."


We have sent the link to this page to Philip in order that he can comment on the accuracy of the transcription, and offer any further comments he may have.