When Ed Palmer chose Kettering Town as his next destination back in June, after he had been released by Torquay United, he would not have known that he was walking into a footballing disaster zone.
The Totnes-born 20-year-old central defender, who spent time on loan from the Gulls to Truro City last season, was the first signing made for the Northamptonshire club by their newly-appointed manager, the experienced former Cambridge United boss John Beck.
The move gave Palmer the chance to remain a full-time professional at a club with an enviable stadium – Nene Park, the former home of Rushden & Diamonds. Now, though, Kettering are on the brink of following the Diamonds into extinction.
Back in 1979, the Poppies were founder members of what is now the Blue Square Bet Premier, from which they were relegated in April this year. Financial problems meant they dropped down two tiers into the Premier Division of the Evo-Stik League Southern.
Beck and his assistant, Dean Greygoose, left the club last month, while chief scout Alan Doyle had to take over as caretaker manager on the morning of a match – with an exodus from the playing staff making his task almost impossible.
Payments on the club's Company Voluntary Arrangement have been missed and the only remaining director is majority shareholder Imraan Ladak, who led a takeover of the club back in 2005 and famously gave Paul Gascoigne a brief and ill-fated chance to be a manager.
Last Saturday, Kettering were able to field only ten players in a 7-0 home battering by Bashley. Then, on Tuesday, the Southern League stepped in and called off that evening's away game at Leamington. The decision, according to Southern League chairman Ken Turner, was "based on the distinct likelihood that Kettering Town would be unable to field sufficient players in the game". Despite having a registrations embargo put in force last week, Turner also revealed: "A large percentage of their [player] registrations were cancelled by the club on Monday, for reasons best known to themselves."
Palmer had already gone by then, and so had fellow central defender Ben Gerring, a former Plymouth Argyle central defender. Palmer has joined Weymouth, from whom the Poppies signed Gerring in the summer, while Gerring has linked up with Cambridge City. They both left Kettering in late September.
Bideford were due to be the Poppies' next opponents today, but the Devon side have not had to make the trek to the East Midlands. The Southern League has postponed the fixture while the crisis at Nene Park is resolved.
Plymouth Argyle fans who watched the Pilgrims in action during the 2002-03 season may recall Kieran McAnespie, a Scottish midfielder who played four games for Paul Sturrock's side in April 2003.
The former Fulham player has been plying his trade ever since he left Home Park, with – among other clubs – Falkirk, St Johnstone, Alloa Athletic and Arbroath. The 33-year-old joined Stirling Albion in the summer – and last Saturday he savoured one of the best days of his career.
McAnespie played at right-back for Stirling in a 1-0 Irn-Bru Scottish League Third Division home win over Rangers. It was the Ibrox club's first League defeat since they were demoted to the fourth tier of the Scottish game, against the bottom of the table side.
Stirling took an early lead and then McAnespie said: "It was just a case of getting behind the ball and making sure Rangers didn't pulverise us."