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Tuesday 10th December 2013 ko 19.45

Southern League Division One Central



Att 234

Entry £8

Programme £2

Badge £2.50

Sometimes its obvious you’re driving to somewhere ancient. The A505 north from the A1 is more or less dead straight, as it follows the Roman road, Icknield Way. When the road intersects with Ermine Street, now the A10, you’re in Royston. The crossing of the two old roads was marked by Roisia’s cross, which eventually was corrupted into Roisia’s Town, then Royston. Sadly all that remains of the cross is the footstone.

Garden Walk is the typical suburban non-league ground tightly hemmed in by the semi-detached houses. There’s even signage urging players to desist from retrieving stray footballs from the gardens! As ever the clubhouse was as warm as the welcome, and I soon found myself exploring the nooks and crannys; the wooden stand on the far side needs to be seen to believed, a vision that is part shelter, part decking area.

The club coped admirably with the bumper attendance that Kettering brought with them. The Poppies came as close to folding last season without actually doing so as any club I can think of. Their troubles left them with a mountain of debt, and no home, but they’ve moved into Burton Park Wanderers’ Latimer Park click here for my visit there, after sharing at Corby Town’s Steel Park while Latimer Park was brought up to Southern League standards.

They had an interesting player too, captain Steven Kinniburgh. The Scots left-back started his career at Rangers, before moving south to Oxford United. He was a little unlucky to be released in 2012 and since then has turned out for Telford, Bedford United and Kettering whilst starting his own business involving football for 2-6 year-olds.

He remains a class act on the pitch, and the goal less scoreline was a fair reflection on a game where the defences had far too much guile for two sets of forwards who rapidly ran out of ideas. Both sides had early goals disallowed, Kettering’s Louis Hamilton’s strike for offside, and Royston’s Mitchell Bryant converted Carl Edwards cross, but it was difficult to see which man was offside. It was a marginal call at best.

From then on the game got increasingly physical, and referee Richard Hart is to be congratulated on keeping 22 players on the pitch and issuing only 4 yellow cards. The game was watchable, and in the end I got the impression that Royston were slightly the happier side at the end, based on the passage of play.

As for me I was happy to warm-up in the car, and go and find a restorative coffee!