The perfect week…

Rico...ninth of the season

Rico…ninth of the season

Northampton Town 2-0 Yeovil Town

League Two

Saturday, November 28th 2015

Today could well have been the day that Northampton Town Football Club ceased to exist in its current form. Instead, following the passionate speech from Chris Wilder just over a week ago, the relief and joy of the subsequent takeover being complete and three league victories, the outlook has changed quicker than in any other seven day period in our history. Wilder has overseen the entire nervous, desperate and unsettling process impeccably and his reward should now be an extended deal at the very least. What he does have is a squad on the up and a short term future that is now as exciting as it’s been for many years.

Saturday’s victory over rock bottom Yeovil Town is a hugely important step in the upcoming journey. A wet and windy afternoon against a side bereft of confidence and results is a trickier obstacle than it seems on paper, especially with the Cobblers’ track record in exactly the same circumstances. The fact that we came out on top – even if the passionate home support were expecting it – shows yet another side to this group of players that are making themselves heroes as every week passes.

Town struck first on the counter attack with Alfie Potter releasing Lawson D’Ath through the middle. There was still plenty to be done but the midfielder rounded the keeper to slot home and a vital foothold was taken on a scrappy game. The second came mid-way through the second half with the latest in a long line of combinations involving Nicky Adams and Marc Richards that are becoming regular features. Rico finished for his ninth of the season and it was always going to be a long way back for the Glovers from there.

To their credit, Paul Sturrock’s men created a few chances that reminded us how fragile a lead can be no matter who you’re playing in this division but the Cobblers held firm and managed to close out the game impressively without really imposing much else on the visitors.

For a brief five minutes during that second half, results elsewhere meant that we were top of the league outright and though we weren’t eventually afforded that cherry on top of the cake we did end the day – and head into a big FA Cup weekend – joint top with Oxford United and Plymouth Argyle.

It’s a massive few weeks coming up with Northwich’s visit in the cup followed by a local derby at Luton and a top of the table clash at home to Portsmouth. Fellow promotion chasers Accrington Stanley also come to Sixfields before the calendar year is up and we’ll know a whole lot more about where we’re at by the time 2016 begins.

The tests come thick and fast but there’s no reason at all as to why these good times can’t continue to roll – the talent is there, the desire is there and, most crucially of all, the future is there. A week ago it didn’t look possible…right now the only way we’re looking is up.

Is it safe to talk about the football again?

O' Toole - winner

O’ Toole – winner

Crawley Town 1-2 Northampton Town

It’s been weeks since the hot topic of conversation has been on the astounding efforts of the Cobblers players on the pitch but today may be the start of a period to once again focus on what now looks like a genuine promotion challenge from the Cobblers.

After more fantastic news hours before kick-off at Crawley in that over £10 million worth of debt will now be taken from our shoulders and placed on the development surrounding Sixfields it was easy to be in an attitude of celebration no matter what the result last night.

As it was, Town produced yet another resolute performance that leaves us level on points with second placed Oxford United and within two points of leaders Plymouth Argyle. Crucially, we’re now eight points clear of eighth place and suddenly the future that looked so threatened a week ago is starting to look very bright indeed.

Assuming that all takeover paperwork is completed in good time, Town will go into the weekend knowing that whatever the result against rock bottom Yeovil Town, we’ll still be in the top three by the time the FA Cup weekend rolls around.

It’s thanks to a victory at Crawley that highlighted two sides to this unified Cobblers side – part clinical and part determined. Looking comfortable at 2-0 up by half-time – through a Joel Bryrom follow up header from a missed Marc Richards penalty and a fine strike from distance from John-Joe O’Toole – the Cobblers were reduced to ten men with half an hour to play which completely changed the course of the match.

Brendon Maloney was the man given his marching orders for bringing down Shamir Fenelon in the area and Simon Walton converted the resulting spot kick. There followed a final third that saw the type of frantic defending and last ditch tackling that’s become a staple of this squad. The fear was that with a deal for the club now close to being complete the players may drop slightly in their efforts but this was a huge step to proving that we’re not only a squad who fight when the chips are down around them but one who have loftier ambitions to stay in the promotion hunt through an exciting looking winter programme.

With Plymouth and Oxford both dropping points it was a massive result to cling onto all three points and the stage is now set for a celebration of a future being sealed this Saturday against Yeovil.

We can’t be counting any chickens about the result but the atmosphere should be red hot in the home ends as we reach the 20 game mark with the real possibility of going top of League Two. The fact that that’s the headline of the night is a hugely welcome relief.

Is it too soon for the #EIEIEIO hash tag? Indeed not…I’m pretty sure we’ve earned the right to bring it out of retirement…


Kelvin ThomasAs hinted at earlier today, the reports of the takeover by Kelvin Thomas were genuine. Finally, after months of mind games, livelihoods being played with, false dawns and broken promises the deal is done. Kelvin Thomas has completed the agreement with David Cardoza and the club looks like it’s been saved at last. It was an afternoon spent refreshing Twitter as frantically as any period of time since its invention but at around 5pm the details started to come through and Cobblers fans across the board breathed a collective sigh of relief and celebrated as if the team had just won promotion. In many ways, it’s as good a feeling.

In the last couple of hours, Thomas gave his first statement of many that will surely follow this week, saying, via the official Cobblers website:

“We are very pleased that we have an agreement. It has been tough for David and Tony Cardoza because they have been with the club a long time. We still have work to do with the rest of the process but working together with the Council and the lawyers we expect to get everything done in time for Friday.”

“Once again we appreciate all the support and good wishes from fans, all the hard work by the staff and players and thank David Cardoza for his kind words.”

It’s all very brief at the moment but hopefully as more and more unravels in the next few days Mr Thomas will be able to give more details about the ins and outs of any agreement with Northampton Borough Council and their loan repayment, the building/rebuilding of the East Stand and the status of staff and players getting paid.

The Supporter’s Trust have also released a statement this evening that reads:

Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust is very relieved and absolutely delighted that the sale of the football club has finally been agreed prior to upcoming legal deadlines.

In what has been undoubtedly the most testing two months in the history of our great club, the Trust has tried its utmost to ensure that any sale that goes through can allow the club to prosper and recover from the desperate situation it currently finds itself in.

Our interim supporters’ elected director Stuart Taylor has been in regular contact with Kelvin Thomas throughout the last few weeks – and now we are looking forward to sitting down once more with Kelvin and his consortium and holding positive discussions as to how the Trust and the broader fan base can assist the new owners in the task of strengthening the club’s financial position and placing the club in a far more positive light.

We are greatly anticipating hearing more about his plans to move the club forward, and we welcome his statement on Friday that he has agreed to fully include the Trust in the future of the club as part of his agreement with the Council.

It has taken so long to agree to this deal, during which many loyal members of staff have been unpaid and the business of the club neglected by the former chairman.

We therefore take this opportunity to publicly thank those loyal staff for their unstinting loyalty to NTFC and hope that prompt repayment is forthcoming to them in the run up to Christmas.

We have throughout this crisis tried to focus on the need to rescue the club and to work with all parties to achieve this.

Like all Cobblers fans will be, we are relieved that David Cardoza has finally done the right thing and sold his stake on, as a consequence departing the football club.

There is still much work to do, we need to recover our reputation with local creditors, our staff and many others in the football world.

We hope that the East Stand is completed as soon as possible, and we need to work with the Council to assist them in recovering the monies they lent to the club for which NTFC has seen no material benefit.

And we have to reward the incredible efforts of the playing staff and management and continue to support their drive for promotion. Chris Wilder and his staff and players have been a credit to football and we are indebted to them for their professionalism and loyalty.

We now look forward to discussing these next steps in more detail with Kelvin and his consortium members.

It’s clearly been a trying time for the Trust as well as everyone else and I applaud their efforts in fundraising, being as open as possible and working with the new owners in the lead up to this announcement. There now needs to be a much stronger working relationship between the new board and the Trust moving forwards.

What happens now?

Until we know more details, it’s hard to know for sure. The most pressing matter is getting rid of the threat of administration, getting the staff paid and going from there. The staff deserve medals for how they’ve worked on no pay for weeks and should be recognised in some way.

On the pitch, if we can avoid administration then we’re in a tremendous league position and you can only hope that now the backs aren’t against the walls as much we keep up the performances of the last couple of months. We’ve made a fantastic fist of things to get into the top three and it’s going to be a heck of a task to stay in and around those places. With the desire that’s been shown since September, though, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t still be up there come the end of the season.

At the moment, though, it’s all about having a team to support and there are no words for the relief that’s being felt that we can do that and start to look forward again.

Police Investigation

If all of that wasn’t drama enough, police have served a warrant at Sixfields this evening to secure documents relating to the loan from Northampton Borough Council to the club.

The club are said to be fully co-operative with the investigation which we certainly haven’t heard the end of. There are still plenty of people, Cardoza included, who must answer serious questions. He’s dragged the club from pillar to post ever since the news of his sale of the club was announced. Just how much has gone on behind the scenes will hopefully be revealed by these investigations and we can only hope that we finally find out the truth one way or another.

The overriding emotion at the end of a dramatic day is relief. Relief that we will still have a club to support. Relief that a decent group of people will be in charge. Relief that we can go to Crawley tomorrow night and welcome Yeovil on Saturday with the mind set of promotion candidates and not looking back to where minus twelve points would take us down to. And relief that no-one is taking our Northampton away.


Wilder’s plea the perfect timing – now get this deal done!


I’m not sure what else can be said that’s not already been about this whole sorry saga but I was primed and ready – following yet another heroic performance by players living on the edge at Notts County on Saturday – to write something that would try to capture the mood once again. Then came Chris Wilder’s post-match interview that did my job for me. It’s unlikely that you’ve not heard it by now but here it is if not:


It’s very clear now if it wasn’t already that Wilder is one of the few that is actually ‘in the know’. He’s kept quiet and acted with extraordinary dignity for months now but on Saturday it was time for that barrier to rightly be broken.

Wilder’s words reflect how everyone is feeling a thousand times more than I could ever try to do but also gave us an insight into the Kelvin Thomas deal that’s hanging by a thread. The offer is clearly there and is a good one. Four local businessmen (Barry Stonhill, David Jackson, Barry Hancock and Brian Binley) have put together what Wilder calls the ‘rescue package’ and are likely waiting in the wings to get something done should the Thomas deal fall through.

David Cardoza basically holds the football club’s future in his hands and the time is now to stop messing with people’s livelihoods, agree a deal and get as far away from Northampton as possible. A petition has begun online and has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures as of today:

Chris Wilder’s passionate message on Saturday may yet be the biggest turning point in the sale of the club. No longer can Cardoza sit behind made up deadlines, fob anyone off or try to hide the facts. Wilder is one of the probably few people that has seen the proposal and it’s absolutely right that he’s come out and said what he knows.

His players and staff are performing miracles and all deserve to be at this club for years to come if and when this gets sorted out. This situation isn’t about league positions but to be third in the table in the midst of all this is sensational.

Now, though, is the time to make sure that the long suffering staff members are able to feed their families. Mr Cardoza, you are playing with people’s livelihoods and you know what to do to make that stop. If you truly do care as much about the future of the club as you say, you will get this deal done NOW.

Edit: Northampton Chronicle and Echo are reporting that a deal with Kelvin Thomas could be done TODAY. The words ‘promise’ and ‘David Cardoza’ don’t mean a lot any more but it’s something to cling on to (and refresh Twitter all afternoon for.) Please let this be it! 

What this means – summed up in 90 minutes.


If ever Northampton Town and, in particular, prospective new owners needed a case study of what this football club means to so many people then Saturday’s gutsy, passionate and thrilling victory at League One high flyers Coventry City came at the perfect time. The Ricoh Arena, awash with over 2,500 Cobblers fans, can’t have been expecting what was to come on an afternoon that could well be mentioned in the same breath as THAT night at Rotherham and THAT life or death experience at Shrewsbury Town.

Maybe in terms of what it means in the grand scheme of things it won’t end up having similar effects but the feelings behind a win like that, on prospectively a last ever away game for the club, cannot be underestimated. Live or die, this one will be with everyone who was there or who was following from afar for a very, very long time.

From the moment Marc Richards headed in to make it 2-1 at the end of a frantic first quarter of the game the Cobblers faithful – who had shared bucket collection duties with some terrific Coventry City fans before the game – sung as if it truly was the beginning of the end of Northampton Town in their current form.

If Kelvin Thomas and the consortium he’s representing was watching on from somewhere he would have seen exactly what the club is to us. It’s meeting with friends, family and strangers to share in the trials and tribulations of THEIR local team. It bonds us, it breaks us, it divides us yet brings us together again in times of ultimate highs or dreadful lows. Thomas would have seen a sea of claret that’s come to the fore whenever a big game comes along, especially away from home. He would have seen a team that wasn’t being paid a week earlier pull together and produce a performance of heroic proportions. And he would have seen unity from every single person involved.

That’s what the powers that be need to draw on in any arguments, debates and discussions over the next few days. This is more than a football club, a whole lot much more than a business.

It’s a life time of memories, one of which was etched into hearts and minds on Saturday. This now becomes THAT day at Coventry.

Round Two…

Next up, presuming that we make it through the next week still in business, is a handy home game against either Boreham Wood (struggling in the Conference Premier) or Northwich Victoria (third in the Northern League First Division). It represents a cracking chance of making it through to a potentially huge tie in the Third Round but of course nothing can be taken for granted. Just making it to that game at the moment will be a success!

Wednesday saviour?

Murmurings around the Interweb today have seen strong rumours emerge that a deal for completion of the takeover could happen on Wednesday. Paperwork to defend the club in the High Court needs to be in by Friday so I only hope and pray that this becomes a reality. It may be one final bit of hope to cling on to but it’s all we have!

Kelvin Thomas or bust?


A couple of weeks on from my last post and Northampton Town edge that bit closer to D-Day and the winding up hearing on November 16. What we now know is becoming a little clearer, though once again conspicuous by his absence in any form (even his usual propaganda videos) is Mr Cardoza.

It’s emerged that Kelvin Thomas, formerly of Oxford United is leading a consortium and has agreed a deal to take over the club but the huge sticking point is the £10.25 million loan that needs to be sorted out with the council. With every passing day comes more meetings, more frantic clamouring for back up plans and the nerves at the heart of the club reaching breaking point. It’s looking more and more like it’s either this consortium, with a new deal with the council, or the end.

That’s how serious this is and the council, as Tony Clarke has said this week, simply must lodge an objection with the High Court and call for an adjournment at the very least on November 16.

In the meantime, the Trust is doing all it can to plan for all eventualities and have, as you would have heard by now, set up a fighting crowdfunding campaign here:

I ask for ANY football fan passing this blog, clicking on it by accident or finding it through whatever means to consider donating. The funds will be needed no matter what the outcome is and it’s been overwhelming already to see supporters from up and down the country leaving messages and money in support.

Any business can also get involved in sponsorship options here:

It’s not only been the fans chipping in with former players getting in on the act. Bayo Akinfenwa is auctioning his signed shirt from his first ever hat-trick here:

Mark Bunn, who came through the ranks here is setting up his own fund:

Added to that, fans are auctioning everything they can part with in order to help out and the show of strength by supporters everywhere is a sign of unity that should show anyone involved behind the scenes just what this football club means to us.

We’re not going away without a fight and wherever we are over the next few weeks, that claret fire inside of us all will be the one constant that can never be put out.

A final note to sign off with is to send condolences to the family and friends of Mr Brian Lomax who sadly passed away this week. Brian was one of the founders of the Northampton Town Supporters Trust, the first of its kind on its formation, and was one of the key figures in helping the club in its darkest of times. Above all of that, he was a Cobbler through and through and though I didn’t know him personally the tributes being sent out this week by those who did paint the picture of a gentleman, a pioneer and a friend.

Brian’s final battle cry was read out by his daughter Emily at the home game with Stevenage and he put it better than I can ever come close to doing.

The Darkest Hour?


On 6th March 1897, a group of school teachers gathered at the Princess Royal Inn on Wellingborough Road with local solicitor AJ ‘Pat’ Darnell to form Northampton Town Football Club. It’s up to the imagination to think of what sort of conversations were had that night but I’m taking a punt that most of it was about the town not having a professional club and how it needed one. Players were rounded up, plans were made and the town (teyn) was given something that it could treasure and hold on to as their own, something to unite communities and make the everyday man, woman and child dream vicariously through a bunch of blokes on a field.

THAT is football. What’s happening on this darkest of days some 118 years later is not.

That meeting in 1897 set the wheels in motion for what would become years of battling, a season in the sun, a rise and decline that could only happen to us, a decapitated but beloved ground (greynd), new horizons, a centenary Wembley moment for the ages, promotions and subsequent yo-yoing between the bottom two divisions and stand out victories against the odds, not just at Anfield.

Once again – THAT is the sort of thing those founders would have envisioned. What we now have is the actions of a few people who a) have got themselves in a complete financial mess and b) continued to put out messages along the lines of “ah, it’ll be alright by next week/two weeks’ time/next month” threatening to destroy 118 years of history thanks to mismanagement of what has sadly become a business. When I saw this morning’s latest revelation that HMRC have launched a winding up petition against the club for unpaid taxes, it felt like not just my own heart being ripped out but the heart of our football club being grabbed and tossed over the shoulders of men in increasingly sweaty suits.

I’ve followed this club since around 1990-1991 so came into things at a difficult time yet fell in love with the football, knowing little of what was going on behind the scenes. I was lucky enough to be born in good time to witness the two Wembley finals and all that followed. I was drawn to local heroes like Andy Woodman, Ian Sampson, Ray Warburton, Sean Parrish and the one and only Neil Grayson. It makes this year around 25 years of following the club.

That’s a small chunk of its existence and everyone reading this will have their own special memories and histories. That also means that there’s generations and generations before them who have watched their own memories unfold. Children who despaired at George Best running riot grew up to take their children to see the glorious 1987 Division Four winning side and then those children took their own wide eyed young ones to witness Scott McGleish head us into League One in 2006.

Is any of this going through the minds of the people making the big decisions at this very moment? Mr Cardoza – are you waking up every day trying everything you can to save the club that have brought all of this to the people of this town and beyond? Or are you waking up thinking about your own future?

This might seem overly dramatic but we’re in serious territory now, if we weren’t deep in it before. The moment you see the letters HMRC you know something is seriously up. This is very different to dealing with a local council who can be talked around. They most certainly won’t hesitate in taking us to the cleaners. And I’m sorry Mr Chairman, but spinning things out for another week where you can have breathing space isn’t good enough.

It’s interesting to note that Cardoza continues to release statements AFTER news has been revealed by a third party like the council or HMRC. Had his hand not been forced, would we all have been left to find this out by ourselves? He’s got himself into one heck of a hole no matter how comparatively small the amount we owe HMRC is. The council will now have no choice but to up their own efforts in recovering the £10.25 million that was due to be paid back by today.

Once again some of the most loyal and passionate supporters, who pay into the club week in and week out in numerous forms, are left to play a waiting game and to get strung along for another week while behind very closed doors the future of a football club created by people who just wanted to give the town a club to call their own is hanging by the tightest of threads.

The heroes

What has to be said in the middle of all of this is that the players and staff have been nothing short of heroic. As all around them collapses the Cobblers somehow won 3-2 at Wycombe, genuine League Two title contenders, and then again at home against Hartlepool to make it six unbeaten in the league. Chris Wilder and the players who are producing incredible results with this backdrop deserve so much more credit and coverage (I know this is ironic being at the bottom of this particular blog entry!).

We’re currently – and stress the word currently with the real possibility of docked points – sit just two points off a place in the top three of the division with a squad that has come together and put everything else out of their minds. It seems to have had a unifying effect and long may that continue because if we do come through this they’ll be ready for whatever’s next.

Somehow, we must find joy in following the battle on the pitch – it’s the only thing that can suspend our worries for ninety minutes at a time.