It only feels like yesterday that I was taken out on a school project to make sketches of Northampton’s new football stadium being built on the west side of town. I’d only just been introduced to the Cobblers towards the end of the County Ground days so to be moving to a new, all seater stadium seemed exciting and fresh for a group of us who were getting into the beautiful game at the time.
Time and again since then we’ve made the trudge back up the bank moaning and full of frustration but those times are made completely worthwhile when something magical happens at our home ground. Twenty years have now passed since the first game at Sixfields so it’s a good time to look back and reminisce about those historic and memorable moments and matches.
I recently set up a poll on the blog, asking Cobblers fans for their top moments and can now reveal the top twenty as voted for by you…here’s to twenty more years!
Today I reveal numbers 20-11 with numbers 10-2 tomorrow and the big winner looked at in detail on Wednesday, the 20 year anniversary…
#20 – 27/10/12: Cobblers 2-0 Port Vale – Town win it for Nicholls
This was one of the more bittersweet Sixfields victories in recent times. As Alex Nicholls raced through on goal, rounded Chris Neal in the Port Vale goal and tapped in the latest in a long line of goals at the start of the 2012/13 season, John McCombe clattered into him and put him out of action for what was eventually almost two years before the striker returned to training this summer. It was a horrific moment made even worse by the behaviour of Vale fans who berated Nicholls as he was being treated and carried off the pitch but the way the team rallied around and battled out an eventual 2-0 win thanks to Louis Moult’s well taken goal just before half time was outstanding. Truly a day that we “won it for Nicholls.”
#19 – 25/11/08: Cobblers 2-1 Leeds United – Bignalls’ big moment
Leeds United would be a thorn in our side in the 2007/08 season for the most part with an 5-2 FA Cup replay win and a 3-0 victory at Elland Road that would see us relegated on the final day of the season but this was one of the better nights of that particular campaign. Liam Davis fired Town in front before Jermaine Beckford pulled it back to 1-1. But then came a moment that young loanee Nicholas Bignall would never forget as he rose to meet a late corner to nod in the biggest goal of his career and to create a much needed positive memory from the 2008/09 season. Bignall has never risen to such heights since and now playing for Basingstoke Town in the Conference South.
#18 – 02/05/13: Cobblers 1-0 Cheltenham Town – Playoff Semi-Final First Leg
The Cobblers had battled to reach the League Two Playoffs in 2012/13 thanks to a run of home games just like this one. Cheltenham came to town having just missed out on automatic promotion and with two wins over us already in the league season. The only goal of the game came when Bayo Akinfenwa’s power held the ball up and led to Chris Hackett being sent away on the right and Roy O’Donovan clipping in his third goal in three games. Hearts were in mouths when Paul Benson missed a good chance to level but the Cobblers held out and this was a major step on the way to Wembley.
#17 – 19/02/02: Cobblers 2-1 Peterborough United – Forrester downs the Posh
One of only two wins over the old enemy at Sixfields in its lifetime (the other coming in the Football League Trophy) came in this season of survival under Kevan Broadhurst in Division Two (League One). Jimmy Bullard put Posh in front with a stunning free kick after just two minutes but goals from Sam Parkin and Jamie Forrester turned the game on its head before half-time and a solid second half confirmed the first ever Sixfields win over ‘Boro.
#16 – 01/02/11: Cobblers 6-2 Crewe Alexandra – Six-Fields!
This was one of the nights where everything went in and one of the more extraordinary in Sixfields history. Ian Sampson was attempting to turn around an inconsistent first half of the season that had been partially excused by the win at Anfield in September and was still trying to put together a run of form. This night was completely out of character as Crewe, going well in the league, were completely blown out of the water. Ajay Leitch-Smith actually put Crewe in front before Shaun Harrad levelled and after Michael Jacobs’ free kick snuck in there was no looking back. Dean Bowditch headed home, Andy Holt made it four and Abdul Osman’s long range effort made it completely safe at five.
Up until this point, Town had never scored six at Sixfields but Billy McKay netted that landmark goal for 6-1 before a late consolation from Crewe’s Antoni Sarcevic. The victory would put us into the highest league position that we would be at for the rest of the season as a run of draws, Sammo’s sacking and Gary Johnson’s flirt with relegation had us all on the edge of our seats.
#15 – 01/05/04: Cobblers 3-2 Bury – We only need ten men!
The final home game of that epic 2003/04 season saw the Cobblers face a must win encounter with Bury as we chased a playoff place in League Two. Colin Calderwood had turned around the fortunes of Town since being named manager the previous October and along with that cup run had brought us to within touching distance of the top seven. Bury didn’t read the script and took the lead through John Cartledge before Martin Smith equalised. The Shakers went into the break on top, though, thanks to Dave Nugent’s goal and looked to be comfortable when Eric Sabin was harshly sent off for the Cobblers. But Marc Richards set up a thrilling finish by levelling and Derek Asamoah broke through as time stood still to fire in the winner with fifteen minutes to go. One the more forgotten games but one that will stick with me for the emotions around that season and the roller coaster ride that was summed up in one manic afternoon. Town would go on to miss out in the playoffs after more drama over two legs against Mansfield Town.
#14 – 16/09/14 – Cobblers 5-1 Hartlepool United (League Two)
The most recent game in the list, this was a joyous Tuesday night at Sixfields. The Cobblers fell behind against the Monkey Hangers earlier this season but Town came storming back to produce the result of the campaign so far. As soon as Marc Richards had levelled from the spot the momentum was with us and Kaid Mohammed netted a brace before half time. The rout was complete after the break when Lawson D’Ath made it four and Richards put the cherry on top for five in our biggest home win for well over three years.
#13 – 15/03/08: Cobblers 4-2 Swansea – Six goal thriller edged by Town
Swansea came into this as League One leaders with the Cobblers looking for an unexpected playoff push under Stuart Gray. This was arguably the best squad that we had assembled in many a year with young blood like Mark Bunn and Luke Chambers lining up next to top drawer signings Mark Little, Daniel Jones, Bayo Akinfenwa and Poul Hubertz and after games like this there was sense of genuine hope for the future. Hubertz scored twice in a superb first half that saw us 3-0 up inside twenty five minutes. Jason Scotland made it 3-1 before the break but Danny Jackman had us safely home with a Cobblers fourth. Scotland scored again late on but it wasn’t enough on a magnificent afternoon for Gray’s troops.
#12 – 25/04/98: Cobblers 1-0 Fulham – Peer’s moment of glory
A crucial match towards the end of the 1997/98 season where Fulham were going for automatic promotion and the Cobblers were in the midst of sealing a second successful playoff campaign. Fulham brought their newly inherited ‘money bags’ of a squad to Sixfields and even installed cameras to beam the game back to Craven Cottage but it was a sell-out Sixfields who would roar Town home thanks to what is arguably Dean Peer’s finest ever individual Cobblers moment as he netted the only goal in front of the North Stand just before the hour. A point at York a week later set up the Playoff Semi-Finals where we would meet Bristol Rovers. (Something tells me you’ll be hearing more about that later too!)
#11 – 25/01/04: Cobblers 0-3 Manchester United – Ronaldo and co strut their stuff
When the FA Cup Fourth Round draw was made in January 2004, the Cobblers were in deadlock with Rotherham United and were about to face the Millers in a Third Round Replay at Millmoor. When we heard that the winner of that game would take on Manchester United at home it immediately gave us an even bigger reason to go to the then-Championship side and win. And win we did, coming from behind in thrilling fashion to set up this memorable afternoon at Sixfields.
The first meeting between the sides since the famous 8-2 defeat in the 1970 FA Cup ended predictably with a United win but featured Cobblers keeper Lee Harper saving a Diego Forlan penalty after two minutes, a young Cristiano Ronaldo performing step over after step over and a good fight from a confident group of Town players. I remember queuing for six hours for a ticket to this and the atmosphere of the day was special enough to make it worthwhile. A day when the loyal Cobblers faithful were rewarded even if we did lose out in the match itself.
Check back tomorrow for more top Sixfields memories!