Poppies pre-season date for Jersey Bulls
KETTERING TOWN have been announced as pre-season guests of Jersey Bulls on Saturday 18 July.
The Northamptonshire side, who play two steps below the Football League in National League North, will provide Bulls with a good litmus test of their current qualities at Springfield this summer as the Islanders prepare for what could be another promotion push in the ninth tier.
Talks regarding a friendly between the two clubs have been ongoing for some while as Kettering owner Ritchie Jeune has taken a keen interest in the budding fortunes of the Bulls – and with good reason ... he is from Jersey.
Now resident in satellite town Burton Latimer, where Kettering play their home games, Jeune helped save the club from extinction in 2013 and they have rebuilt their way back up the non-league pyramid ever since.
The Jersey-Kettering connection doesn’t stop with Jeune either. Jersey FA president Bradley Vowden’s uncle Geoff Vowden was once player-manager of the Poppies, after a distinguished career at Nottingham Forest, Birmingham City and Aston Villa.
‘It’s an excellent fixture for the football club,’ said Bulls director Ian Horswell.
‘We’ve got an opportunity to plan for pre-season properly this time. It’s important to balance the rest period of the players who will be involved in a lot of football over the summer with the JFA and the Parishes of Jersey. For that reason we are planning on three friendlies on 11, 18 and 25 July against clubs from all different standards.
‘Besides that, the quality of the opposition is excellent but it also gives the team a chance to compete against a Step 2 club [sixth tier]. It’s an exciting opportunity to see where Bulls are in terms of our quality on the pitch’.
Former Manchester United boss Ron Atkinson cut his managerial teeth there, preceding Vowden from 1971 to 1975, with maverick Northern Ireland striker Derek Dougan later taking over and negotiating the first shirt sponsorship deal in English football. Their most successful season to date was 1988-89 when they finished second in the Conference and reached the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Notable former players of the Poppies include England’s Callum Wilson and England legend Tommy Lawton. Paul Gascoigne infamously took the reigns of the club too in an ill-fated spell in 2005 that ended in ignominy– lasting only 39 days.
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