Can we say the first time we met Northampton Town was an eye-popping experience? Oh, looks like we just did. That feisty 2005-6 FA Cup clash is now well and truly behind us, however. And we have since had cause to play the Cobblers in league fixtures. But we can’t say the bad blood had entirely gone away either; two lads getting themselves sent off in a 2010-1 League Two match at their place for us. Still, things are now a lot calmer between us (we think).
Part of that might be down to the fact that distance is normally kept between the two clubs. At least, that had been the case. It’s rare for us to meet in two successive league campaigns. In the most recent examples, it’s been them on the way up. After promotion up to League One in 2020, however, relegation the following season brought them back down to League Two. And, with it, we go again against the Cobblers; hoping to improve our poor record to that point.
The year is 1897 and talk of the internet is something that (we reckon) would get you locked up for being barmy. At the same time looking back on this somewhat Luddite existence, a rumbling occurs in Northamptonshire; a football team comes to life because some teachers are bored. They put forward the name Northampton Football Club. That was binned because the local egg-chasers didn’t like that. So, they whacked a “Town” on the end – and bob’s your uncle. Or should that be cobblers your uncle? No. Probably not. Grammatically, it looks awful.
To start with, the Cobblers competed in the Midland League. We make it sound as if it was a long-term deal – but it wasn’t. In 1901, they signed up to the Southern League and were crowned champions just eight years later. To give them their dues, they were among the strongest team in the competition before World War One. The first campaign back after the conflict, however, was a miserable one. Luckily, it wouldn’t count against them because – in summer 1920 – the club were awarded a place in the Football League’s new Division Three South.
And so that would be the course charted for them in the decades to follow. There were ups and downs, sure; plenty during the 1960s for a start. It even saw the Cobblers climb as high as the top flight of English football. OK, so they only managed one season. But they weren’t exactly cut adrift. Two points was all that would keep Fulham up at their expense. There have also been times when they’ve slipped into the basement division (they were the second-worst team in the Football League come the end of the 1984-5 campaign). Yet, here they remain…
Why do we know the Cobblers?
The 2005-6 campaign saw the Cobblers in the fourth tier – but fighting hard for another promotion. Us, on the other hand, had gone close to joining the Football League; losing to Carlisle United in the 2004-5 playoff final. Despite the divisional gap, the FA Cup Round Two draw pitted us against them. For us, it was a great test. Could we continue our giant-killing credentials? And how would we fare against a side we may well have been playing against as equals had the playoff final gone the other way? Well, the cup draw gave us that test. League bedfellows would have to wait…
You’ll find a decent-sized car park at the ground, which will cost £4 to use. It’s far from the most extortionate car park charge we know about too. There’s a word of warning from the Cobblers, however. They “strongly advise” against using anywhere but official car parks – mainly because you might get a ticket. So, at least they’re looking out for you.
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Northampton train station is closest. But it’s about two miles away from the ground. So, you might wish to grab a taxi to complete the rest of your trip to Sixfields.
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