What, someone might be asking, has happened to the Poppies this season? (Poppies are Kettering Town F.C., the football club I support – they appeared in a couple of posts earlier in the year).
On the field, things are going well, thank you – we are third in the table and are through to the second round of the F.A. Cup, with a high profile tie tomorrow at home against Leeds United. I have obtained my tickets (at ruinous expense) and may report back if I get time (and I get back in one piece – though I don’t suppose it’ll be like that).
Off the field, however, things are looking bleak. I won’t go into the whole sorry imbroglio in any depth here – for the latest developments, according to the Kettering Evening Telegraph, try this, but the basic facts are these. During a previous financial crisis, in the late seventies, the club had to sell the freehold of their ground (which they’ve occupied since the beginning of the 20th century). The new freeholder (a Mr. Pickering) allowed the club to continue using the ground on a thirty year lease. The lease is now coming to an end and Mr. Pickering wants his land back to build houses on.
Poppies go-ahead millionaire Chairman Imraan Ladak managed to broker some kind of deal with Asda to build a combined football ground and supermarket complex on the outskirts of town. Kettering Borough Council, however, have refused planning permission, so the club (for the umpteenth time in my memory) are on the verge of extinction (or – worse – a merger with Corby).
The local MP, the noted expenses miser Philip Hollobone, having undistinguished himself a few days ago by asking the following question in Parliament
“Rugby has Twickenham, football has Wembley, and now volleyball has Kettering. Would the Minister like to congratulate the English Volleyball Association on choosing Kettering for its national training and competition centre, which opened at the weekend?”
(Volleyball?) has now attempted to redeem himself by asking another question in the House about the Poppies’ new ground, and inviting the Minster for Sport to attend the Leeds Match (So that was the shady-looking individual queuing up for tickets last Saturday).
Obviously I have views on several of the ishoos raised by this matter, but I won’t bore you with those at this point.
This situation has prompted the folks who run the club’s fan forum to replace the usual bit-at-the-top (whatever the technical term is for that) with this –
(The KBC on the Reaper’s scythe refers to Kettering Borough Council).
This isn’t the first time that a Kettering artist has made a connection between a personification of death and Poppies. One of the most striking paintings on display (usually) in Kettering’s Alfred East Art Gallery is this, by local artist T.C. Gotch (it’s called Death the Bride) –
Wikipedia provides a decent summary of Gotch’s career T.C. Gotch.
The Alfred East Gallery is well worth a visit, if you happen to find yourself in Kettering for any reason (though, apart from the football and Wicksteed Park, I’m struggling to think of many reasons why you might do so). It has only two smallish rooms, one of which is used for temporary exhibitions, usually by local artists, so not much of the permanent collection is on display at any one time. They do, though, have forty-odd works by Gotch, a similar number by Kettering’s other best-known artist, the eponymous Alfred East, and bits and pieces by the likes of Lowry, Hoyland, D.J. Watkins-Pitchford (the author “BB”), Wyndham Lewis, Charles Ricketts and a crayon drawing by Toulouse-Lautrec.
It also has a substantial collection of works by George Harrison (the “Kettering hairdresser-poet”). “Wet evening in the Ouse Valley” is a picture of his I particularly look forward to seeing on a future visit.