Tommy Lawton 2

Tommy Lawton

Kettering Town care-taker manager from Oct 1963 April 1964.

Tommy LawtonWhen Wally Akers was forced to resign as Kettering’s manager, an ex-Poppies managerial legend returned and took over as care-taker for the remainder of the season, namely Tommy Lawton.

Lawton took over well into the season, but once again worked his magic as Kettering drew Millwall in the First Round of the FA Cup and then managed to earn a very creditable 1-1 draw at Rockingham Road. Millwall scored after 10 minutes, but then sat back and with the Poppies pressuring their visitors defence, Brian Snowdon put the ball past his own keeper (Alex Stepney, who of course ended up at Manchester Utd) to make it 1-1.

The replay at the Den brought a dramatic victory for the Poppies when two goals from George Armour and a header from Barry Daldy saw them edge out their illustrious hosts (then in Division Three of the Football League) and went through to the 2nd Round by a narrow 3-2 scoreline.

Lawton was delighted and despite all the noted highs of his legendary playing career, declared; “I’m proud of these boys. This is one of my happiest days in football. They gave the lot. In fact our goalkeeper, Ted Smethurst, played throughout the second-half with concussion.”

In the next round Kettering were drawn away to a Fourth Division outfit, old foes Oxford Utd, with Ron Atkinson playing wing-half for the U’s. Kettering played fairly well but lost out 2-1 at the final whistle, with Lawton extremely upset when the referee disallowed what appeared to be an excellent Kettering goal. “We were absolutely robbed. Our winger Derek Hogg got the ball in his own half, went past two players and flashed it into the net. But the ref, incredibly, had given offside. I ask you .. I was so livid. It would have put us 2-1 up.”

Lawton’s care-taker manager stint never conjured up the excitement or performances of his previous tenure and the club struggled very badly in the league. Kettering’s cup exploits may have given the supporters some hope, but ultimately their league campaign ended in disaster. With not one single away victory all season, the Poppies only managed to finish above Hinckley Athletic in the table and were subsequently relegated from the Southern League Premier Division.