The 1960’s : More League scalps fall to Poppies in the FA Cup
The start of a new decade also brought about new fortunes for Kettering Town. They finished the 1960-61 season as Southern League Division One Champions, scoring 100 goals in the 40 league games and were once again promoted straight back up into in the Premier Division. The player/manager at centre-half was England and Portsmouth legend Jack Froggatt and between the posts was one of the Poppies supporter’s favourite goalkeepers, Ted Smethurst.
Team: Maurice Marston, Quigley, John Storey, George Armour, Ted Smethurst, Jack Froggatt, Jimmy Morrow, Sammy Savage, John Ritchie, Bernard Shaw, Hughie Morrow.
That season also saw another good run in the FA Cup, which ended in a 4-2 defeat away to Reading in the 2nd Round in front of a crowd of 12,477 with the Poppies’ goals scored by Walden and Morrow. It’s also interesting to note the attendances during that cup run totaled 38,218, which over the seven ties was an average crowd of 5,460.
Another good season followed with a creditable 7th position in the league accompanied by another good cup run, this time Swindon Town fell victim to the Poppies in an excellent 3-0 victory at Rockingham Road after a 2-2 draw at Swindon in the 1st Round. However the 2nd Round again proved the stumbling block and neighbours Northampton Town ended the Poppies’ run with a 3-0 away defeat.
After a 5th place in 1962-63 the club again found themselves back down in Division One the following season after finishing 21/22 in the League, but once again the FA Cup provided the highlights (notably under then caretaker manager Tommy Lawton) with a 1st Round Replay 3-2 away victory over Millwall after a 1-1 home draw. By now the 2nd Round exit stage was becoming very familiar and Oxford Utd provided the opposition and narrowly defeated Kettering 2-1 away.
Millwall gained a measure of revenge when they dumped Kettering out of the FA Cup the following season by the narrow 1-0 margin at the 1st Round stage and Kettering began the steady process of reclaiming their Premier status with a 12th position in Division One at the end of the 1964-65 season.
A steady 9th placing in 1965-66, followed by another rebuilding season which saw the club score 105 league goals and climb to 5th position in Division One coincided with relatively poor showings in the FA Cup. But the immediate priority was the return to the top-flight of non-league football and a runners-up spot in 1967-68 was enough to gain them promotion to the Southern League Premier again.
The 1968-69 league season saw Kettering finish in a steady 9th place, but it was once again the FA Cup that provided the season’s excitement as the Poppies reached the 3rd Round stage for the first time in their history. Entering at the early 1st Qualifying Round stage, six wins later, including a 5-0 home thrashing of Dartford in the 2nd Round, and Bristol Rovers awaited Kettering in the 3rd Round. A 1-1 draw in the first game and Bristol were brought back to Rockingham Road for the replay, but after a narrow 2-1 defeat by Rovers, Kettering’s historic run was sadly ended.
As the decade drew to a close, notable mainly for the club’s gallant FA Cup exploits, the 1969-70 season saw the Poppies in 15th position in the league and a 1st Round Cup exit losing 2-0 at home to Swansea Town. The almost inevitable relegation the following season was (in hindsight) tempered by the fact that the Poppies were about to enter one of the most notable and high-profile decades in the club’s history.