A Daventry man who has done it all in grassroots football was recognised for his 50 years of service to the beautiful game at a Northamptonshire Football Association ceremony last week.
London-born Kenneth Barton, 76, first moved to Northamptonshire in 1966, living with his wife Jo in Wellingborough, where he was involved with Raybestos and Nova Casuals.
Six years later he moved to Daventry where he founded Tamar Youth – which would later become Drayton Grange FC – and his involvement with the youth club is perhaps what he’s best known for.
“I really did enjoy Drayton Grange because over 25 years a lot of lads played for me, from the under-12s through to the under-15s,” said Mr Barton, who was chairman for 25 years and is now the club’s honorary president.
“That’s only four years, but their children are now playing for the Grange’s younger teams, which is brilliant.”
Drayton Grange was founded for the children living on the estate, and it ran a weekly tote draw which Mr Barton would always attend.
“One of the managers once asked me ‘are we a social club or a football club?’
“I said we’re a mixture of both, we’re a community club because of where we play and the amount of people who contribute to our tote.
“It’s good of us to be able to help people in the area other than the football, and that’s the way I look at it.”
Also on the list of Mr Barton’s achievements is the creation of the Daventry & District Sunday Football League in 1975, along with Ken Wilson.
The league grew in popularity over the years, boasting four divisions at one point, but eventually declined and Mr Barton, who chaired the league until last year, thinks TV might have played a role in this.
He said: “There’s so much football on TV these days that people, in my opinion, tend to get together on Sunday to watch the games rather than play. Gradually we lost teams and we ended up with just one division.”
To date one footballer has emerged through the ranks at Drayton Grange to become professional, which shows how difficult it is to make it at a higher level, but some did continue playing after leaving the youth team.
Martin Aldridge, who sadly died after a car crash at only 25, played professionally for Northampton, Oxford and Blackpool.
Mr Barton said: “He is the only one we have had play professional football. But some of our youngsters have graduated to play for Daventry Town and Kettering.”