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Non League Football Under The Microscope

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Eastbourne Borough fans celebrate - August Bank Holiday Monday 2003                                Photograph by Sam Hicks

Rothwell Town FC

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Cecil Street
Rothwell
Kettering
Northants
NN14 6EZ

Telephone: 01536 710694

Website

Nickname: The Bones

Main stand ... and floodlight

Near goal with social club behind

‘Scatching Shed’ on far touchline, showing the slope

Far goal

Rothwell Town’s idiosyncratic Cecil Street ground has been in use since 1896, and during that time has seen several changes. The notorious sloping pitch for example, which now drops about eight feet from the near goal to the bottom left hand corner, ran at right angles to its current position until around WW1.

The ground however, is one to be visited and enjoyed whilst the opportunity still exists. Rothwell are planning to relocate, albeit only a couple of hundred yards, as soon as the legal documentation is complete and any planning obstacles are overcome. Rather than opt for something grandiose however, the plan is for something appropriate to meet the current needs of the club, with the potential for a relatively straightforward and cost-effective upgrade as and when required.

Originally, one side of the ground, and the land behind it had been sold off for housing development and the plan was for a partial redevelopment on the existing site. More recently however, plans have escalated to the extent that the Bones will move to a new stadium built on land just beyond where the far goal currently stands.

Redevelopment will mean the end for the flat-roofed wooden main stand, which stands on the half-way line. No doubt many ground-hoppers will be sorry to see it go. The structure is not as old as it appears, having been built around 1960 (with financial assistance from neighbours Kettering Town FC). With the dressing rooms underneath (including an old-style sunken bath), it provides an elevated vantage point. It is however, impossible to get a clear view of the action due to the presence of one of six floodlight pylons positioned right in front of it. Surely the worst positioned floodlight anywhere in English football!

For those interested in such things, the floodlighting system was purchased in 1982, and came from a building site owned by McAlpine’s near to the town.

The very first stand (built in 1924) at the ground stood on the opposite touchline, before it was destroyed by a fire in 1959. Today, a covered shelter (“The Scratching Shed”) occupies that part of the ground, and is actually one of a pair that originally stood where the current stand is now.

There is fairly basic but effective cover at either end of the ground. steelwork for the cover behind the near goal apparently came from nearby Irthlingborough Diamonds re-built Nene Park ground (now home to Rushden and Diamonds FC).

There were originally plans for the existing social club to act as the shell for a grander replacement behind the near goal. Clearly however, a brand new building will now be required.

The current building is comfortable enough although it’s worth noting that on the two occasions I have visited the ground, there has been no hot food available. With this in mind, visitors may consider popping into the Rowell Charter pub en route. Although it looks as though there are a fair number of pubs in the town (pronounced “Rowell” and not “Rothwell” by the way), the Rowell Charter is the first one encounters on entering the town.

Redevelopment of old grounds is becoming a fact of life these days, but one hopes that the new Cecil Street will retain some of the character that the existing ground undoubtedly has.

Incidentally, Rothwell Town are known as “The Bones” after a collection of … er, bones, located in the town’s parish church. It is thought that these may be from soldiers killed at the nearby Battle of Naseby on 14 June 1645, during the English Civil War.

Ground details
Capacity: 3,500
Seats: 264
Floodlights: Yes.

Directions
At the town centre roundabout, turn into Bridge Street (right if northbound, left if southbound) then take the third left into Tresham Street. The ground is at the top on the left.

By rail
Kettering (BR) 3 miles