Graham Carr

Graham Carr

Kettering Town manager from September 1992 to May 1995.

Graham CarrFollowing the sacking of Dave Cusack the administrators appointed Graham Carr as Kettering Town’s new manager. Carr was already fairly well-known to the Poppies supporters, having been successful at Northampton Town in the late 80’s, before moving onto Blackpool for a brief spell.

Carr took over the reigns in late September 1992, his first ‘official’ match in charge saw the visit of Wycombe Wanderers to Rockingham Road and after Kettering’s 4-0 thrashing in front of 3,021 Carr was left in no doubt what a difficult task he’d taken on. With the club in administration there was no hope of any cash injection to help boost his weakened playing squad and over the course of the season he’d come to rely heavily on bringing in loan players.

Kettering continued to struggle at the foot of the table and recorded only one league victory during Carr’s first seven GMVC fixtures in charge, a 2-0 home win over Stafford Rangers with both goals coming from the Poppies’ own prodigal son, Frankie Murphy, re-joining the club for a third spell. Carr’s men fared no better in the FA Trophy, crashing out 4-1 to Bromsgrove Rovers after a replay, but a narrow 2-1 victory over local rivals Corby Town setup an FA Cup 1st Round encounter away to Gillingham and a chance for glory.

Kettering’s patched up team were comfortably matching the League outfit until an appalling tackle on Poppies keeper Andy Beasley left him lying on the ground as the Gills striker rolled the ball into an empty net. The referee incredibly waved away all the protests and the goal stood, poor Beasley was stretchered off with Ian Docker having to don the gloves as a stand-in. Kettering eventually went down 3-2 with the Poppies goals coming from Richard Hill and Phil Brown.

Back in the Conference, Carr’s efforts began to reap rewards and a 5-0 demolition of Slough Town at Rockingham Road sparked a revival with just one reverse in 11 matches through the festive period beginning to ease the club’s relegation worries. Among the many loan players to pass through the dressingroom doors at Rockingham Road during that season, two goalkeepers, Fred Barber and Jurgen Sommer were certainly among the more noticeable.

Barber kept the supporters entertained during his brief spell at the club by his strange habit of wearing an ‘old man’ rubber mask during the warm-up period before matches. While on loan from Luton Town, the USA-born keeper Sommer, played arguably his best game for Poppies in the 2-1 win at (eventual champions) Wycombe Wanderers in front of 4,430 at Adams Park with Phil Brown and David Hodges on the mark for the Poppies in a virtual cup-tie atmosphere.

Another point-gathering run in the final eight league fixtures saw Kettering beaten just once, 2-1 in their final home game by Kidderminster Harriers, but another win in their final away match at Dagenham and Redbridge saw the Poppies finish in a fairly respectable 13th position. A remarkable achievement by boss Graham Carr against a backdrop of probably the most turbulent and darkest period in the club’s history and with the help of a grand total of 53 players (including 8 different goalkeepers!) used throughout the course of the season.

Just two clubs were eventually relegated that season, with Welling Utd managing to cling on desperately to their Conference survival, while Farnborough Town and Boston Utd were the unlucky clubs going in the opposite direction to champions Wycombe Wanderers, then managed by Martin O’Neill.