Date: Saturday 15th August 2009
Match: Kettering 1 AFC Wimbledon 2 HT: 0-1 Att: 1,746
Thomas 74: Kedwell 9, 66(pen)
Additional: Entrance £18 (stand) £14 (terrace), Programme £3, Hamburger £2.80, Hot drinks £1.00
Rockingham Road in pictures
Rockingham Road (or the Elgood’s Brewery Arena as it is attempting to call itself) has seen football in three centuries. They have played there since 1897. Kettering Town (founded 1872) has a very illustrious history in non-league. Founding members of the Football Alliance in 1979, they remained there for thirty years, finishing in runners-up spot four times. They have also reached the first round of the FA Cup 41 times.
Of the more unusual facts about Kettering is that they were the first team to play with a sponsor’s name printed on their shirts – Kettering Tyres, in 1976. This was against FA rules at the time and they were ordered to remove the wording, even after the impertinent compromise suggested by Kettering of putting just Kettering T. The second unusual fact is that they were the first club to have their floodlights engraved with their initials.
The ground is to the north of Kettering, easily reached from the A14 and A43, with plenty of on-street parking very near without the infuriating NO MATCHDAY PARKING signs or threats to tow you away or Residents Permit Parking only. There weren’t even middle-aged men in their living rooms shaking their heads.
It started quirkily enough with the entrance for seated away fans being a corrugated iron door (more hole than door, though) in the back of the stand. Going in it was like entering an Uncle’s shed or Anderson shelter, an overpowering musty smell with odd bits of masonry and tools everywhere. This dusty junk yard had an old iron stairwell leading up to the seats.
The seating area was modern and the stand enormous for non-league and held 1,800 seats. It reminded me a bit of Brunton Park, with a massive dominant stand towering over three small sides. The side of the stand even went beyond the touchline as does Carlisle’s. The away standing was a sloping bit of terrace behind the goal. There was a low covered terrace the opposite side with an uncovered home terrace behind the goal.
As Leek Town fought back to 3-3 from 3-1 down I saw a very good game, with both teams playing well. Kedwell for AFC Wimbledon scored a lovely header from a cross after 9 minutes. A penalty after 66 made it 2-0 and they held on, despite Kettering’s 74th minute strike.