Kettering Town 4 Aylesbury United 3 match report: Steve Kinniburgh makes sure Kettering go down fighting

The Calvin Report: Non-League Day sees thriller down in eighth tier but winners may not survive the week

If this was the end, after 141 years, Kettering Town obeyed theatrical tradition and left them wanting more. Victory, surreal, uplifting and entirely appropriate, was sealed by captain Steve Kinniburgh two minutes from the end of what the High Court may decree is their final fixture.

"Let's hope it is the first of many more wins," said an optimistic soul over the public address system as part-time players, a collection of strangers assembled in the shadow of adversity, fell into each other's arms. "Keep the faith."

They will be forced to seek a new club if Kettering fail to overturn the winding-up order issued due to a disputed debt of £58,000 owed, with savage irony, to a shell company representing an extinct club, Rushden & Diamonds.

Calor League Division One Central, the eighth tier of English football, has never seemed so alluring. Kettering's recent history might have been a catalogue of mismanagement, alienation and false hope, but the collection buckets were full to the brim with banknotes.

Ken Samuel is 61 this month and was first taken to watch Kettering by his father at the age of two. He was initially mollified by a steady stream of sweets, but as he grew up, football, and Saturdays spent in the old wooden stand at Rockingham Road became one of the pillars of his life.

He saw Tommy Lawton's team win the Southern League in 1957. Ron Atkinson, all barrel-chest and bravado, did the same in 1973, when the development of his managerial alter-ego began to accelerate. Derek Dougan, entrepreneurial, aggressive and articulate, defied the FA in 1976, when they became the first British club to play with a sponsor's name on their shirts.

By that time, Samuel had progressed from the Junior Supporters' Club, to play on the wing for the reserves. He has since painted the ground, mended the fences, and made the teas. He has overseen the catering, edited the match programme and worked as an unofficial scout.

He's now a director, without the airs and graces that title implies. "I do anything and everything I can to keep the club going. This club has given me some good times and some sad times."

Every home game involves a round trip of 160 miles. "I always want to go back. It is a form a love, I suppose. It gets into your blood. I've lived away for 37 years now, and if the club goes the town will die a little.

"Why fight to save it? There is a sense of identification. People care. They rally around in times of distress. We've had people from all over the world donating over the last three days. A fiver, here, a tenner there. It all adds up."

The spasm of sympathy even involved Graham Reid, chairman of yesterday's opponents Aylesbury United. He offered his services, as an insolvency expert, for free. Dunstable Town donated a proportion of gate receipts from their midweek home game against Kettering.

Dean Thomas, Kettering's sixth manager in three seasons, reported for a four-hour shift in his day job, as a timber salesman, in Wolverhampton at 7am yesterday. He drives 60,000 miles a year and is wary of spending too much time on football.

He has only two contracted players. The rest are essentially free agents, who could walk away on a whim. None earn more than £100 a week, a sum which tends to be swallowed up in petrol. He recruited four new players for yesterday's win.

"There's an old saying in non league, 'come for a fiver, go for a fiver'," he said. "Players at this level have to trust the manager. It has obviously been a traumatic week, and all I can do is be honest with them. They know I will be straight with them. I'm not going to fabricate anything.

"It is difficult to get them here, because other managers and players are telling them 'why bother? They'll be out of business soon'. All I can hope is they see the potential of the place, and the size of the fanbase. I still believe."

If Non-League Day was supposed to offer a stark perspective it succeeded on every possible level. There are two separate rights of way across the Latimer Park pitch and notices warn dog owners to "scoop your poop".

Aylesbury goalkeeper Jack Sillitoe, who can charitably be described as rotund, was inevitably informed he had eaten all the pies by fans in a marquee behind his goal. He was beaten twice in the opening 10 minutes, by Rob Foster's near-post header and a crisp shot on the turn by Ashley Fuller, but Aylesbury led 3-2 on the hour, through goals by Steve Hatch, Jack Wood and Keith Williams.

Substitute Lewis Wilson equalised before Kinniburgh, who missed a penalty, "released so many conflicting emotions" by scoring the winner from close range. Samuel, like the rest of the 743 crowd, was drained.

"I've brought my son and daughter here, just as my dad took me," he said. "My wife hosts the boardroom. I met her through the club. It has been a family experience, in more ways than one. If we go out of business, it will tear a massive hole in our lives. If the worst happens, at least we've gone out with a win."

Kettering Town (4-4-2): Horton; A Deeney, Logan (Newman, 85), Piercewright, Fox; Hamilton, D Deeney, Kinniburgh, Fuller (Muzvimbiri, 63); Thorpe, Foster (Wilson, 63)

Aylesbury United (4-4-2): Sillitoe; Reynolds, Hatch (Allen, 89), Wood, K Williams; Baines, Armstrong, G Williams (Grace, 46), Smyth; Blackett, Acheampong (Field, 73).

Referee Graham Kinnear.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
News
Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge show their newly-born daughter, their second child, to the media outside the Lindo Wing at St Mary's Hospital in central London, on 2 May 2015.
news
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before