November would be a month of more disasters on the pitch but some relief off it as we were finally separated from Gary Johnson’s regime. It wasn’t to be a happy divorce with the two games that preceded Johnson’s exit epitomising his eight month reign at Sixfields.
The first was an all-out attacking set up at Gillingham which, to be fair, the Cobblers were actually unfortunate to lose at the death following a stirring fight back. The Gills, though, tore us apart early on with Frank Nouble making a mockery of Ben Tozer at right back and terrorising him for most of the game. That led to Jo Kuffour scoring a first half hat-trick. In between times, Saido Berahino pulled one back for the Cobblers but there was still a mountain to climb in the second half. Kelvin Langmead shot us back into contention though and Berahino rammed in a first time effort from a free kick to pull things back to 3-3 before a massive turning point. Bayo Akinfenwa was clean through on his old stomping ground and had headlines in his sights but pulled his shot over the bar. Inevitably, the Gills went on to snatch it with a second penalty of the game which Danny Kedwell converted.
Johnson was on borrowed time and going into the FA Cup First Round clash with Conference side Luton Town you got the feeling that it was do or die. And so it was that Adam Watkins’ eightieth minute goal was the one that ended Johnson’s time at the club, knocking us out of the cup with a whimper. Rumours were flying around from the minute the game ended up until Monday morning when the announcement came that the manager was gone.
The outgoing boss then appeared in the national media saying, basically, that it was the fans’ fault that he was sacked with our high expectations and all! After the way he left the club it wasn’t the best way to make peace with some members of the claret faithful, some of whom had stuck with him over the previous months.
Anyway, onwards and upwards and a home game with Shrewsbury Town was next up with Johnson’s assistants Dave Lee and Andy Holt taking temporary charge. With my stag do on the agenda for that weekend I thought it a good idea to invite a group of mates up to Northampton to take in a game before hitting the glorious lights of Northampton’s bars. On that day and night I was dressed in a huge white beard (during the match), a Father Ted outfit and as Supergirl but none of that was anywhere near as embarrassing as watching the Cobblers surrender to a 7-2 hammering at home. I’d rather not relive that match again so here’s a photo of me in a beard instead…
Dave Lee was duly sent on his way and Tim Flowers would have a go at being in the hot seat for the big trip to fellow strugglers Plymouth Argyle the following weekend. Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse, Argyle – at this point the league’s bottom club – smacked in four goals in the first half through Simon Walton, Nick Chadwick, Will Atkinson and Ashley Hemmings. Yet another unmitigated disaster with Bayo’s goal in stoppage time barely registering with those brave souls who had made the journey to Home Park.
So four defeats, a cup exit, three managers and sixteen goals conceded. November 2011 could well go down on record as the worst month in Cobblers history and boy did we need something to turn the season around. Luckily, December would see us find an answer and although it wasn’t with immediate effect we would at least have some stability by the time Big Ben took us into 2012…
Highlight of the month: Gary Johnson’s departure.
Lowlight of the month: Every single match in the month had its own!
Player of the month: The long suffering Cobblers fans