Dominic Genovese

Dominic Genovese

The appointment of Dominic Genovese would hardly have been a unanimous choice for most supporters, although a popular ex-player and successful Youth coach at Rockingham Road, many supporters thought the lack of management experience at a higher level would prove too big a hurdle, however the chairman thought otherwise and Kettering Town kicked-off the 2003-04 season in the Isthmian League with Genovese at the helm.

Genovese added several names to his playing squad, notably Gary Butterworth, Paul Fewings, Ian King and Richard Graham, although a four-match suspension for Craig Norman highlighted the necessity for further signings and the pre-season defeat to Rothwell Town in the Maunsell Cup Final, albeit on penalties after a scoreless match, was perhaps another early indication that the playing squad needed strengthening.

Kettering started the new season with a narrow 2-1 home victory over Northwood, new signing Paul Fewings scored the winner and just three days later the Poppies secured their first away win of the new season, another narrow 2-1 win courtesy of a brace from another recent recruit, midfielder Matt Murphy. In their third match, Kettering recovered from an early setback to claim a point in a 1-1 draw at Hornchurch and maintain their unbeaten start to the season.

Just when it started to look like the supporters fears from the surprise managerial appointment were ungrounded, Kettering suffered their first defeat of the season, surrendering a 1-0 lead to go down 2-1 at home to bottom outfit Braintree Town. However, boosted by the return of Craig Norman who scored from the penalty-spot, Kettering bounced back to claim a 2-0 victory away to Thurrock and quickly followed that with a more convincing 3-1 home win over Maidenhead Utd, again Norman showing his prowess from a spot-kick.

An early 2-0 lead in their next match, away to Carshalton Athletic, was eventually surrendered and the 3-2 defeat, after conceding an injury time penalty, clearly rankled the traveling support. A late equaliser salvaged a point at home to Hitchin and a comfortable 3-1 home victory over Bognor Regis Town moved Kettering back up into third in the Isthmian League table, before a 3-1 defeat at Billericay Town and a 3-0 hammering at home to Hayes put a severe dent in the watching Poppies supporters confidence and dropped the club down to 10th position.

Another defeat, albeit narrowly going down 1-0 at Kingstonian, saw Kettering drop to 13th place, but two Craig Norman penalties offered some relief as they safely negotiated their way past St Margaretsbury and through to the 4th Qualifying Round of the FA Cup to face Boreham Wood away. Kettering’s league woes continued with a 2-2 draw at Basingstoke Town, and although a 4-1 hammering of a poor Heybridge Swifts outfit offered some measure of comfort to Poppies boss Genovese, the meagre attendance of just 601 was of little comfort to Poppies chairman Peter Mallinger.

Matters worsened for Genovese when Kettering crashed out of the FA Cup away to Boreham Wood and with it went the 10,000 prize money and what would almost certainly have been another money-spinning trip away to Second Division Blackpool in the 1st Round Proper. Yet another Craig Norman penalty secured 3pts away to Hayes and an own-goal gifted Kettering all 3pts away to St Albans, but a 3-0 hammering at Rockingham Road by Ford Utd only underlined the defensive frailties and another low attendance underlined the supporters disatisfaction with the way the season was now progressing.

It came as little surprise to most that shortly after their latest home defeat, Kettering Town announced that Dominic Genovese was ‘being relieved’ of his First Team duties and would revert back to being the Youth Team coach. Genovese’s early departure had arguably been hastened indirectly by the re-structuring of the non-league pyramid, with only those teams finishing above 14th place being guaranteed a berth in the newly-formed Conference North or Confernce South for the start of the 2004-05 season, Kettering could not afford to fall short.

Genovese was perhaps a victim of his own ambition and bad timing, while the supporters can hardly blame him for wanting to try his hand at First Team management, for the 2003-04 season in particular with the advent of the new non-league structure, the stakes had been raised and the ‘effective’ relegation drop-zone had been set at below 14th place (with the exception of the play-off lottery for qualification to the Conference North / South). A portion of the blame rested squarely on the shoulders of Chairman Peter Mallinger, with many supporters convinced Genovese’s appopintment was effectively the ‘cheap option’, when what the club really needed was a steadying and certainly much more experienced hand at the helm.