Flourishing Once Again, Paul Has His Poppies In Bloom

If you were once given the keys to the chairman’s Aston Martin just for winning a National League match, you may struggle to find a bad word to say about football.

But Paul Cox has perspective at the moment. This enforced downtime from the game we all love could be something altogether more permanent.

Back in February 2018, the now Kettering manager left Guiseley - and he came very close to leaving the game for good.

Disillusioned and downbeat in part at his own under-performance in the task of keeping the Lions in Non-League’s top flight, he almost quit football for good after being given the elbow.

Poppies fans were thrilled that he parked the biggest of career decisions.

“It was my fault, I had failed,” he said. “There were some other factors that came into my thinking but I didn’t want to be in football management any more.

“Fear is a horrible thing, but I considered calling it a day totally. I had made mistakes, so I went to the US to have a look out there at what was on offer and stayed for a while.

“I think the biggest of those was not taking time out after leaving Barrow. I should have spent a period out of the game and reflected on that time, got myself together and ready for my next challenge.

“I actually needed to re-cleanse myself. I didn’t and it went wrong.

“Football is a monster within us. The passion just never goes, but sometimes passion takes over logic. I eventually decided I would have another go at management and I’m so pleased that I did.”

He’s not the only one. It helps when you’re at a club who already know you, wearing the Kettering shirt more than 100 times over two spells.

Crucially, he had a year out to act as fuel to throw everything he could at reviving the Poppies who were already wilting on their National League North return.

Cox has seen all sides of the game, earning the keys to the boss’ £80,000 motor after Mansfield beat Barrow 8-1 back in 2013 on their way back to the Football League.

It was a period when they so nearly rocked Liverpool - and when Championship clubs were sniffing around the former steely defender.

But he wasn’t prepared for what he saw when he first walked into changing room at Latimer Park.

“It was tough - I have never seen a dressing room as low or lacking in confidence as they were at Kettering,” he said. “Nearly every person to a man was down and deflated.

“That was clearly the first thing to get to the bottom of. We had to get them believing again, and we did.

“We had to work hard, very hard. I’m a glass-half-full guy and I needed to be!

“We got them kicking and screaming over the line really, but getting up the table, out of trouble and getting wins on the board was a big thing. It created a connect with the fans.

“People have forgotten just how big a club Kettering could be. I was there when we just missed out on promotion to the Football League, and there is an energy here to really get the club going again.

“It took me back to when I was managing at Eastwood. I want to recreate those days and want to make some real memories.”

Of course when that is, nobody really knows.

“We are all going to look at the game very differently when this is all over, we will for a number of years - don’t expect things to go back to normal for a while,” Cox warned.

“Clubs will be putting in place a lot of new procedures, and some may really struggle to come through it - that’s a fact, the game could really change.

“But let’s hope that everyone stays fit and healthy and one day in the near future we can get back to worrying about football results and not this virus.”

Where next?

Better Times Ahead For Bradford Says Committed Bower Mark Bower says there’s a plan in place to make sure Bradford (Park Avenue) do not suffer again next season.
Seb Got Wimbledon Roaring On Their Road To Redemption Imagine going on to play for your club after standing on the terraces every week as a child. Then imagine playing your part in a fabulous promotion season.