Paul Gascoigne

Paul Gascoigne

Kettering Town manager from Oct 2005 – Dec 2005.

Paul GascoignePaul Gascoigne arrived in a blaze of publicity akin to the signing of another ex-England favourite Tommy Lawton, almost half-a-century earlier.

‘Gazza’ brought with him ex-Arsenal midfielder Paul Davis and the duo took over the running of the first team, with Gascoigne taking over as manager and Davis taking over as coach.

Kevin Wilson was offered the post of Director of Football, but once the dust had settled on the announcement, Wilson decided he wanted to continue in football management and reluctantly departed Rockingham Road.

Gascoigne’s first match in charge of Kettering brought a media circus to Rockingham Road to witness a 1-0 victory over Droylsden, courtesy of a Christian Moore strike an hour into the action, and a crowd of just over 2,000 spectators.

The following Saturday Gascoigne, who was an FA Cup medal winner, got his first taste of Cup action as manager of a non-league club when Kettering hosted Conference National outfit Stevenage Borough in the 1st Round proper.

A large crowd of 4,548 watched an entertaining match which led to the exit for Poppies, going down 3-1 with soon to be Poppy, Anthony Elding scoring the killer third goal for Boro.

An emphatic 4-1 victory over Stalybridge Celtic at Rockingham Road the following Saturday appeared to look like the former Newcaste Utd, Spurs and England midfielder had settled into his new role well, but behind the scenes all was not well.

Three away matches in-a-row against the league’s struggling teams brought a total of just two points and some of the magic brought about by the arrival of Gascoigne started to wear off as Kettering dropped off the pace in their campaign for a play-off place.

A brief respite in the shape of a narrow 1-0 FA Trophy victory at home to Gainsborough Trinity courtesy of a Neil Midgley strike raised the hopes of the supporters that the team was just going through a difficult period. However, off the field, Gascoigne was going through an even tougher battle and his short tenure would end with almost as much drama as his arrival.

Kettering’s next match, away to Barrow, turned out to be Gascoigne’s last match in charge of the Poppies. Another lack-lustre performance led to a 3-1 defeat and the supporters beginning to think something was definitely going on behind the scenes at the club.

Their suspicions turned out to be correct, as a bust-up between chairman Imraan Ladak and Paul Gascoigne (the reasons for which were covered in depth by the scandal hungry media) led to the latter being sacked as manager, just 39 days after taking charge.

Ironically, former manager Kevin Wilson returned to take over where he’d left off with the arrival of Gascoigne and the supporters were once again left to reflect on another dramatic, albeit fairly brief chapter in the history of Kettering Town Football Club.