For any football fan, playing on the turf of your team is a dream come true. But not many will ever get the chance to kick a ball on their own field of dreams, let alone play a game against legends of the club’s past. But for a lucky few, the dream became a reality last week as the Shoemakers, the Cobblers fan’s team, took on Northampton Town legends at Sixfields. For Mark Kennedy, part of the fans’ team, it was an unforgettable night. Here he explains the evening when fans faced up to the legends…
How did it feel walking out at Sixfields alongside the legends that you’ve watched from the stands?
I felt a little nervous at first but very excited. My last Sixfields experience was playing in a sponsors team where we didn’t really know each other but this time around we all knew each other really well and buzz was amazing. To line up in the tunnel alongside the legends is awesome though, you could tell how much they were looking forward to the game. I have worked with Sammo and Sean Parrish through my work’s sponsorship of the youth team and it is a pleasure to know them and the passion they have for Northampton Town and their roles within the club. The banter on the pitch was great as well.
What was it like playing on the hallowed turf of Sixfields?
Before the game we all went for a walk about on the pitch in our suits and when you stand on the centre spot, the goals seem quite close. However, when you start playing on it you find it a very different story. First of all, the appearance is deceptive and the pitch is massive and secondly the ball rolls so much faster on the turf. It certianly beats the Racecourse or some of the shabby pitches we have played on in other parts of the country. Hearing the crowd chanting and cheering you on is a great experience and you have to try and stop the goose bumps and concentrate.
Highlight of the night?
I cannot single this one out really as the whole experience was amazing. The legends and backroom staff were brilliant in the way of their spirit and banter, the crowd were great cheering us on and the pre and post-match build up and run down was perfect. One thing that stands out for me I suppose would be the gratitude of the Shoemakers lads at the end of the game for the night. Being part of giving the team a dream experience is a special feeling.
How jealous were your Cobblers-supporting friends of you getting to play at Sixfields against the likes of Razor and Sammo?
It was tough because there are quite a few people that would love to be a part of the team and we have to limit our numbers unfortunately. We get loads of requests for people wanting to join the team to play week in week out and we have to turn people away at times as we sometimes have too many people as it is. The lads who played have dedicated themselves to the team for a number of years, leaving at silly hours to travel to places like Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Crewe and so on, so they really deserved the experience. We didn’t really encounter any jealous mates, in fact most people really wished us well.
Did you get a sniff of a goal?
We play a 3-5-2 system in the team and I play on the right side of midfield. I suppose defending is my stronger point but I do like to get forward when I can. My last goal was over two years ago now so I am happy to get in the other box and occasionally have a shot so I was delighted to have two half chances at Sixfields. The first was a half chance when the ball dropped between myself and Nick (Randall) and we both sort of connected at the same time but the keeper made an easy save. The other chance was a header from a half cleared effort but I couldn’t get enough power to trouble the keeper. Oh yes, I did bury the ball in the net during the pre-match kick about but I don’t suppose that counts!
Who was the best player on the Legends side?
Sean Parrish certainly still has a good touch and moves the ball really well and trying to get the ball off Sammo is a task. Eddie McGoldrick played for the Cobblers over 20 years ago and is still pretty useful as well. Again it hard to answer and say who really stood out because we were playing against ex-pros and people who know the game and not fellow fans who have turned up for a kick about on a Saturday morning before they go to the match. The two Football in the Community lads were very hard to catch and physio Stuart Barker plays some good stuff as well.
And the man of the match for the Shoemakers?
Everybody played exceptionally well throughout the game but our keeper Matt Cockerill made some quality saves on the night so I would have to plug for him. It is easy for a keeper to come into the firing line in a big game situation and make stand out mistakes but Matt dealt with everything thrown at him. Many fo the crowd picked him afterwards too.
**Above photo courtesy of Pete Norton**