So Ian Sampson has departed Sixfields after a season of more ups and downs than even we as Town fans are used to. A run of five straight draws that ended with last night’s defeat at home to Burton Albion brought about the end of the road for a man who has made Sixfields his working home for the last 17 years.
The shock on this Wednesday afternoon is that a man has been discarded for a league position that is safe enough but apparently not good enough for the future thinking of the board. In under a year, Sammo has gone from signing a new deal following an excellent second half of last season to being shown the door and we can only now pay tribute to a man who has been Mr NTFC for as long as I’ve known.
In his playing days, Sammo never put a foot wrong to my knowledge. A centre back with not a great deal of pace, he made his short comings up in passion and pride in wearing the claret shirt. At London Road, Peterborough in the year 2000, Sammo’s finest hour came when he struck the winner in a 2-1 derby win that will live with us forever. A few years later and he was pulling on the shirt he loved for the final time in that incredible Playoff Semi Final at Field Mill, his 499th appearance for the club.
Going straight into the club’s coaching set up was a logical step and the defender soon became the youth team coach, reserve team manager, assistant manager and then first team manager. It makes it an even more painful departure to chronicle an unmatched loyalty to one team that in this day and age is not something you generally find.
As to this season, it was fitting that Sammo got one final night of emotion and celebration, at Anfield where he led his troops to a remarkable victory on penalties. That night alone will mean his stint as manager will stand out to fans of the future.
For the rest of the season, well it can be argued that some players have let their boss down in certain things, some decisions have gone against him but that’s for another debate. For now, we can only celebrate an iconic figure of Northampton Town Football Club.
A last niggle is that he never got to say goodbye to his fans and the ones that stuck by him, saw his passion for the club and loved him to bits, particularly through the nineties and the revival of the club from nothing through to two Wembley show pieces.
In terms of a manager, I can’t even begin to think who’s going to come in to replace him but believe me, there’s some hefty, hefty boots to fill.