You know Northampton Town. They’re the team who won promotion to League One in an empty Wembley Stadium, before then being relegated back to League Two in the behind closed doors season of 2020/21, only to then miss out on automatic promotion on the final day of last season because Bristol Rovers somehow managed to beat Scunthorpe United 7-0. Yeah, that Northampton Town.
This season, we will be going ‘onboard’ with Cobblers fan and EFL enthusiast, Ryan Percival. In his column ‘Talking Cobblers’, Ryan will lift the lid on the ups and downs and the ins and outs of supporting a club like Northampton, whilst also sharing his thoughts on some of the other goings on in the EFL. If Cobblers’ 22/23 season is anything like their 21/22 season, then we’re in for one hell of a ride!
My time supporting Northampton Town
Born and bred Northampton, I’m a Cobbler. Always have been, always will be.
It seemed the natural thing to head to down to Sixfields with my mates when we were growing up, and we’ve been going ever since.
It was home and away every week for a good few years. John Frain in the 93rd at Wembley in 1997, champagne poppin’ to promotion with Scott McGleish up top in 2005/06, and promotion again ten years later with Chris Wilder and Alan Knill at the helm of the ship that is now referred to as HMS P*ss the League.
They are, hands down, some of my life’s best moments.
Now I’m older and have other commitments, it’s as and when. But a couple of times a month, for sure.
After all, you can’t beat an away day, can you? And there’s something very special about seeing the same old faces week-in week-out. Brilliant.
That’s football for me. Good friends, good days out and, regardless of the result, it’s the same old faces. All in it together. The highs and the lows.
Talking of lows, the final day of last season was lump-in-the-throat stuff up at Barrow.
But regardless of what happened on the most dramatic of last days, it was a highly successful campaign for the club.
A completely new management team, led by boss Jon Brady, and a totally new squad. That brought to renewed on-field energy, when it could have easily gone the other way, and Brady and co deserve huge credit for finishing fourth.
Towards the end of the season, we seemed to find our rhythm. When we thumped Leyton Orient at their place – what a day, by the way – I thought we could win the league.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. We did all we could, winning 3-1 at Holker Street on the final day. But Bristol Rovers enjoyed their fairytale finish with a 7-0 win over Scunthorpe, and credit to them. No sour grapes from me at all, that’s football. And I love it.
If we rewrite history for the minute, had (P) in our Twitter name for the summer months, and then made the signings we have made during this close season, I’d be happy.
So the fact we’ve made these signings while still in League Two means I’m chuffed.
But does that ultimately mean we’ll be among the division’s front runners again? The positive side of me says yes, top three (P); the pessimistic Cobbler that’s been drilled into me over the last 20+ years says mid-table fodder.
The stand-out signing has to be that of striker and five-time promotion winner Danny Hylton. Six years at Luton, 62 goals, cult hero status…
We’ve been crying out for a talismanic striker for a good few seasons. Please Danny, be good.
In midfield, the addition of the ponytailed Ben Fox from promoted Grimsby Town looks a smart one – he was a stand-out player in the National League Play-Off Final – as does the defensive signing of Sam Sherring from Bournemouth.
Sherring will partner Jon Guthrie at centre-back, replacing the departed Fraser Horsfall, who left for Stockport County.
The Guthrie and Horsfall combo provided 17 goals last term, form that saw them both named in the PFA League Two Team of the Year. While that goal figure isn’t likely to be hit again, I’m confident Guthrie and Sherring will form a good defensive partnership.
Depth was also an issue last season, when injuries struck as the season wore on. While we’re still fairly light going forward, the additions of Tyler Magloire (Blackburn Rovers), Akin Odimayo (Swindon Town), Harvey Lintott (Gillingham) and Ryan Haynes (Newport County) mean we look to have more options at the back.
That may lead to a change in shape at times, too. We all need a plan B, or even C, and we didn’t seem to have that last time around.
Last season’s goalkeeper Liam Roberts was the other player to make the PFA’s best XI for 2021/22, but he has joined Middlesbrough and been replaced by Lee Burge.
Burge certainly has EFL pedigree, playing 160 times for Coventry City, before 66 appearances for Sunderland, so definitely looks like a more than adequate replacement.
The final mention goes to Mitch Pinnock. On his day, the bloke’s a magician. If he’s still as confident as he was when last season came to a close, he’ll be delivering once again as the postman.
My prediction for 2022/23: Sixth.
The next instalment of ‘Talking Cobblers’ will be available soon. In the meantime, you can follow Ryan on Twitter – @RyanPercival
(Photo Creds – Ryan Percival)