My enduring memory of Marc Richards doesn’t come from where you might think. When most people think of Rico they recall the astounding four goal salvo at Macclesfield – he could even have left Moss Rose with five that day had it not been for an incorrect disallowed goal – in a game that saw him finally dust off the bad luck that had plagued his first season with the Cobblers. Instead, when I think of the man who made a return to Sixfields yesterday my fondest reminiscence is actually a game that took place two weeks later.
The KC stadium, Hull City (yes, that same Hull City who line up in Saturday’s FA Cup Final!) was the venue and the Cobblers were coming back from a poor start to the season under Martin Wilkinson to lie on the brink of the playoffs under the new regime of Colin Calderwood and John Deehan. In fact, after this game we actually harboured hopes of a late run to the top three but though that didn’t quite materialise we did secure a playoff spot and that epic dual with Mansfield Town.
To stand any chance of keeping up the pace we needed to get something from the KC from a Hull side flying high in Division Three (League Two). Any sort of result would have been a huge achievement at a side back on the rise in their shiny new stadium but what we got that day was one of my favourite ever away days. A huge army of Cobblers fans had travelled, buoyed by Rico’s heroic hall at Macclesfield and a 2-1 win at home to Oxford the following week.
Richards took just two minutes to send us into delirium with an unstoppable strike from all of thirty yards that arrowed into the top corner of Boaz Myhill’s net. It wasn’t just that goal that stands out from that performance – the team showed tremendous guts and togetherness to come back again once Hull had equalised. Eric Sabin struck twice to give us a 3-1 half time lead and though City hit back again for 3-2 in the second half the Cobblers held on for a huge win. Richards led the line with style that day and was a perfect foil for Eric Sabin for the remainder of the season.
His second season didn’t work out well with injuries plaguing any chance of cementing a legacy with the club but after yesterday’s announcement that Rico is coming back after signing on a free transfer he’s got a second chance to shine at Sixfields. His stints at Barnsley, Port Vale and Chesterfield have all produced goals and he should provide some of the younger strikers valuable help in their development whilst still hopefully banging them in on the pitch.
After waiting twenty seven games for his first goal in his last spell here, though, let’s hope Rico gets going a bit quicker this time!