There’s certain times in a successful season that you look back and point to as moments when you started to believe that it would be ‘our year’. In 1997, a run of high scoring home wins in January, including a couple in deep snow, in 2000 back to back 1-0 wins at far flung Carlisle and Darlington to rescue a flailing promotion bid and 2006’s win at London Road featuring that slip by Sean St. Ledger. If we’re looking back in May having secured promotion, this last week could well be reflected on as a similar milestone.
Winning at Plymouth last Tuesday night took the campaign to a level not seen by an entire generation of Cobblers fans. Saturday’s effort at Dagenham simply reinforced the feeling that even the most pessimistic Town supporters now must have – that belief is running through the entire club that this is a season like no other.
Gone are the injury time turn arounds, gone are the missed chances, gone are the unlucky bounces and the false dawns. This squad has something very, very special and anyone that knows me knows that I don’t have this much optimism about the Cobblers easily! We’re brimming with confidence, playing some outstanding football and digging in when we need to. It’s a feeling of invincibility that has to end sometime but there’s every confidence that when the run does come to an end that it won’t last long enough to pull us away from the promotion hunt. After all we’ve been through as a club since the start of the season it’s just incredible.
Every player is doing their bit but having Ricky Holmes back is adding that bit of extra quality to an already blossoming squad. The way he’s taking his goals, the runs he’s making and the little touches that create space are making him the main man, however long he’s on the pitch for. It’s a big thing to proclaim but Holmes is having the type of influence that Martin Smith used to have and (whisper it quietly) may even have that little bit extra. Having the likes of Rico and James Collins ahead of him and the energy of the likes of Sam Hoskins, Lawson D’Ath, Nicky Adams and Alfie Potter alongside him it’s one of the most exciting front lines we’ve ever had. With Rod McDonald now coming into his own, Adam Smith pulling off his own miraculous stops and the back unit now as solid as they’ve been, it’s a team to be proud of and one that’s capturing the imagination of the town once more.
Added to the league form is the small matter of an enormous FA Cup replay at Milton Keynes on Tuesday night. Around 7,000 Town fans are travelling and with the carrot of a home game with Premier League champions Chelsea hanging in front of us, it’s got all the feel of the 2004 epic at Rotherham United. It’s obviously still a massive task but with a backing like that, it can be done.
Just as I run out of things to say when things are awful, the football is rubbish and the manager is clueless, it’s odd to be here thinking what more I can now say about the ridiculous form and performances of my team and the staff who have steered them to the edge of glory. The next few weeks will enable us to see things even clearer but it’s hard not to just sit and take it all in for now.
Bring on more of the same!