Champions! So what now?

sky-bet-league-two-trophy-4x3528-2737037_478x359The title is won and Northampton Town are CHAMPIONS of League Two. Many of us never thought they would live to tell a tale of a championship winning Cobblers side but after a goalless draw at Exeter City we’ve done it and can spend a summer in the sun as a returning force to League One. Although the four draws in a row that sealed promotion and top spot weren’t a showcase of our collective powers, it really doesn’t matter with the joy that followed the final whistles at Sixfields last week and at St. James’ Park on Saturday overflowing across Town fans across the country.

Last night, the Cobblers did get back to winning ways and saw off Crawley Town in a homecoming fit for champions. Again it wasn’t a score line that blows anyone away but it was important to get back to winning ways and to keep this extraordinary unbeaten run going. The proud nature of Chris Wilder and this phenomenal group of players should mean that there’s still plenty to write home about in the final three games of the season. So here’s just a few things to keep us interested as those below us battle to join us in League One…

The 100 point dream

Last night’s victory over Crawley keeps alive the one final dream of this season – for the Cobblers to reach the magical 100 point mark. With nine points to play for, it’s tantalisingly poised with Town eight points away from reaching that particular target. Yeovil Town, Luton Town and Portsmouth stand in our way – Yeovil is certainly winnable with their safety now secure, Luton will bring with them a crowd baying for our blood that should lift the atmosphere on the day when we’ll lift the trophy whilst Portsmouth away on the final day will guarantee a party on the south coast. Pompey may still need points to secure a playoff place on that day as well so if we go into it with 98 points on the board it makes for a fascinating afternoon. First, though, to get there!

The battle for 2nd and 3rd

Just two points separate second and fifth in League Two with Accrington, Oxford, Plymouth and Bristol Rovers battling it out for the final two automatic promotion places. What a great position we’re in to be able to watch that fight unfold in the next couple of weeks and it’s a position we’ve truly earned. The fact that none of the four play each other in the final three games means it’s a case of who holds their nerve best in their own games and it’s becoming a titanic battle to avoid dropping into the end of season lottery. Speaking of which…

The Playoffs

One of the biggest reliefs about sealing promotion is that we’re not going to be involved in the playoffs. With two of the aforementioned sides guaranteed to be in that mix likely along with Portsmouth and a resurgent Wimbledon (who both still have a game in hand) it’s looking like one of the strongest line ups for League Two playoffs in years. Exciting games ahead!

The fringe

We saw glimpses last night of fringe players coming back in to attempt to persuade Chris Wilder that they have the nouse to stay in his plans for League One. The likes of Josh Lelan may be given a big chance to impress before the summer and maybe we’ll even see some younger talent pop up in the last three games.

The crowning of champions

Finally, the Luton game gives Cobblers fans the chance to herald their heroes at Sixfields one last time before the summer and we should be ready for a send-off like no other. It’s looking like we’ll lift the League Two trophy on that day and images from the end of that game will go into the annuls of history alongside the Wembley Heroes.

So there are just a few things to keep us interest in this remarkable season. It’s a chance to properly enjoy our football and enjoy our wonderful club before the summer.

Up the Cobblers!

Rob Dunkley

I was primed and ready on Monday morning to put together a celebratory blog after the Cobblers shot to the top of the League Two table after an enthralling victory at Luton Town. But as I started gathering my thoughts and browsing social media for snippets of information the saddest of news items began to circulate.

Rob Dunkley, known to many Cobblers fans, tragically passed away just hours after watching his beloved Cobblers produce another remarkable performance to rise to top spot. I didn’t know Rob well enough to even come close to putting together the right words but I’ll do my best based on what I did know about one of the most popular and friendliest Northampton Town supporters there was.

As many reading this would have, I first met Rob on an away day. His biggest quality was making you feel like you were best mates within seconds of meeting him and there was a gentle warmth about him that was as genuine as you’ll find on any terrace or pub. From then on, whenever I’d see Rob at home or away games, he’d come over and have a chat and also get talking to anyone else I’d brought along for the day.

Rob was a wealth of information on the match day referee, previous meetings between clubs and everything in between and loved his football club, following them up and down the country no matter what the financial or footballing set back.

More importantly, Rob was a gentleman and a friend to anyone he came into contact with. Northampton Town were lucky to have him. We were lucky to share great highs and lows with him.

Rob was at Kenilworth Road for his final game and he leaves this world with the club and people he was so loyal to not only saved but sitting on top of the league. If there is any solace at all to take from this awful news, it’s knowing this.

There will be a minute’s applause in the 35th minute for Rob during Saturday’s game with Portsmouth.

Rest in Peace our friend xx

THE DEAL IS DONE!!

Kelvin ThomasAs hinted at earlier today, the reports of the takeover by Kelvin Thomas were genuine. Finally, after months of mind games, livelihoods being played with, false dawns and broken promises the deal is done. Kelvin Thomas has completed the agreement with David Cardoza and the club looks like it’s been saved at last. It was an afternoon spent refreshing Twitter as frantically as any period of time since its invention but at around 5pm the details started to come through and Cobblers fans across the board breathed a collective sigh of relief and celebrated as if the team had just won promotion. In many ways, it’s as good a feeling.

In the last couple of hours, Thomas gave his first statement of many that will surely follow this week, saying, via the official Cobblers website:

“We are very pleased that we have an agreement. It has been tough for David and Tony Cardoza because they have been with the club a long time. We still have work to do with the rest of the process but working together with the Council and the lawyers we expect to get everything done in time for Friday.”

“Once again we appreciate all the support and good wishes from fans, all the hard work by the staff and players and thank David Cardoza for his kind words.”

It’s all very brief at the moment but hopefully as more and more unravels in the next few days Mr Thomas will be able to give more details about the ins and outs of any agreement with Northampton Borough Council and their loan repayment, the building/rebuilding of the East Stand and the status of staff and players getting paid.

The Supporter’s Trust have also released a statement this evening that reads:

Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust is very relieved and absolutely delighted that the sale of the football club has finally been agreed prior to upcoming legal deadlines.

In what has been undoubtedly the most testing two months in the history of our great club, the Trust has tried its utmost to ensure that any sale that goes through can allow the club to prosper and recover from the desperate situation it currently finds itself in.

Our interim supporters’ elected director Stuart Taylor has been in regular contact with Kelvin Thomas throughout the last few weeks – and now we are looking forward to sitting down once more with Kelvin and his consortium and holding positive discussions as to how the Trust and the broader fan base can assist the new owners in the task of strengthening the club’s financial position and placing the club in a far more positive light.

We are greatly anticipating hearing more about his plans to move the club forward, and we welcome his statement on Friday that he has agreed to fully include the Trust in the future of the club as part of his agreement with the Council.

It has taken so long to agree to this deal, during which many loyal members of staff have been unpaid and the business of the club neglected by the former chairman.

We therefore take this opportunity to publicly thank those loyal staff for their unstinting loyalty to NTFC and hope that prompt repayment is forthcoming to them in the run up to Christmas.

We have throughout this crisis tried to focus on the need to rescue the club and to work with all parties to achieve this.

Like all Cobblers fans will be, we are relieved that David Cardoza has finally done the right thing and sold his stake on, as a consequence departing the football club.

There is still much work to do, we need to recover our reputation with local creditors, our staff and many others in the football world.

We hope that the East Stand is completed as soon as possible, and we need to work with the Council to assist them in recovering the monies they lent to the club for which NTFC has seen no material benefit.

And we have to reward the incredible efforts of the playing staff and management and continue to support their drive for promotion. Chris Wilder and his staff and players have been a credit to football and we are indebted to them for their professionalism and loyalty.

We now look forward to discussing these next steps in more detail with Kelvin and his consortium members.

It’s clearly been a trying time for the Trust as well as everyone else and I applaud their efforts in fundraising, being as open as possible and working with the new owners in the lead up to this announcement. There now needs to be a much stronger working relationship between the new board and the Trust moving forwards.

What happens now?

Until we know more details, it’s hard to know for sure. The most pressing matter is getting rid of the threat of administration, getting the staff paid and going from there. The staff deserve medals for how they’ve worked on no pay for weeks and should be recognised in some way.

On the pitch, if we can avoid administration then we’re in a tremendous league position and you can only hope that now the backs aren’t against the walls as much we keep up the performances of the last couple of months. We’ve made a fantastic fist of things to get into the top three and it’s going to be a heck of a task to stay in and around those places. With the desire that’s been shown since September, though, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t still be up there come the end of the season.

At the moment, though, it’s all about having a team to support and there are no words for the relief that’s being felt that we can do that and start to look forward again.

Police Investigation

If all of that wasn’t drama enough, police have served a warrant at Sixfields this evening to secure documents relating to the loan from Northampton Borough Council to the club.

The club are said to be fully co-operative with the investigation which we certainly haven’t heard the end of. There are still plenty of people, Cardoza included, who must answer serious questions. He’s dragged the club from pillar to post ever since the news of his sale of the club was announced. Just how much has gone on behind the scenes will hopefully be revealed by these investigations and we can only hope that we finally find out the truth one way or another.

The overriding emotion at the end of a dramatic day is relief. Relief that we will still have a club to support. Relief that a decent group of people will be in charge. Relief that we can go to Crawley tomorrow night and welcome Yeovil on Saturday with the mind set of promotion candidates and not looking back to where minus twelve points would take us down to. And relief that no-one is taking our Northampton away.

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Smith the hero again as solid Town hold on

Hoskins...match winner

Hoskins…match winner

Northampton Town 1-0 Oxford United

When the Cobblers signed Adam Smith after his acrimonious departure from Leicester City this summer, many, including myself, expected him to be playing back up fellow Sixfields bound stopper Ryan Clarke. But after impressive showings in pre-season, the rebuilding job he’s doing with his young career has well and truly rocketed off the ground. Smith is making all the early running in the Player of the Year award and after another superb showing on Saturday in a hugely needed 1-0 win over Oxford United you get the feeling that we’ve got a bit of a gem on our hands.

A penalty save with the Cobblers 1-0 up, but down to ten men thanks to Jason Taylor’s red card for an off the ball incident, was the highlight of the game for Smith but there were plenty of commanding moments including rushing out to block at strikers’ feet, quick reflex saves and a confidence that was lacking behind the back four last season.

Town needed a win like this to lift a crowd that was baying for answers to takeover questions and though the planned demonstration inside and outside of the ground had some effect it was peaceful enough that by the time Sam Hoskins grabbed his own big moment – glancing in his first league goal having come in for Alfie Potter – the focus was on unity and getting back on track.

Hoskins has been on the brink of a start and after last weekend’s disjointed team showing against Dagenham and Redbridge his energy and craft was a clever addition. The attacker is another of Wilder’s summer signings that’s been pretty consistent when he’s played and there’s no reason why he can’t be forcing his way into the reckoning on a permanent basis.

At the other end a strong backline was needed and the short term reinforcements of right back Darnell Furlong – seen playing Premier League football a few months ago – and centre back Shaun Brisley from Peterborough gave a more solid look to the defensive line that had to be strong in the face of a 10v11 second half.

That being said, Oxford appeared not to want to take the game to us and would have been disappointed that once Danny Hylton had the spot kick, awarded for Taylor indiscretion, saved beautifully by Smith just before half time they didn’t create enough to merit a point on a ground at which they blew us away last season.

It was a proper grind of a result and performance but the unity shown throughout was of complete contrast to a week ago when all involved trudged off to analyse where we went next.

That’s still the big question this week with the ‘due diligence’ period coming to an end for the takeover and if there’s still no noises coming from Sixfields in the next few days then the off field murmurs will creep back.

The ground work has been done, though, to ensure that the Cobblers are doing just enough to keep in touch with the rest of the division while the biggest saga at the club in years hopefully comes to an end.

We wait with baited breath…

A mid-summer reflection…

shutterstock_58829962It’s the time of year that, as football fans, we try to grab any sense of the new season starting so this week’s Capital One Cup draw and fixtures release were welcomed with open arms. Now with the players due back in training tomorrow and the first friendly in just two weeks’ time, the process begins again.

The fixtures machine threw up a tasty trip to a celebrating Bristol Rovers on the opening day with the Gas likely to be still on a huge high after their dramatic playoff final win and promotion whilst the campaign ends with a trip to a Portsmouth side who surely have to get it right this season and challenge for promotion.

The cup draw at home to Blackpool is a decent one and it should get the juices flowing on the home front against a side who will likely still be wounded from a disastrous season last time out. The Cobblers’ record in the competition against higher league opposition is impressive and it’s a very attractive tie and an early test of Chris Wilder’s new look outfit.

What the team will look like by then is still up in the air with still no news on one goalkeeper, let alone the two that we need. The thing that’s been impressive about the signings so far is that they either show a bit of guile and/or what appears to be a fighting spirit that’s so crucial to League Two football. Still needed is another Jason Taylor type in the middle of the park for back up and competition and a couple of out and out strikers. I’d love to see us go for another goal scorer in the Rico mould because of last season’s problems when he was injured. The coming days, as we report back, should see a bit more progress on new faces with contracts officially running down at this point in the summer.

It’s been great to have a summer focus on other competitions to keep the appetite going in the meantime and the England Women’s team have been doing a great job with their chance in the spotlight in a year with no major competition from the men’s side of things. Progression further and further in the World Cup could prove to be huge for the women’s game in this country with international exposure hopefully turning in to an increased interest in the national women’s game.

I couldn’t resist dipping into the Under 21s championship and Copa America (go on Peru!) but it’s the fixtures that begin on August 8th that by far hold the key to reigniting the football fuel for good. Won’t be long now…

Obscurity…for now…

D'Ath...one of the key men.

D’Ath…one of the key men.

So that’s that for another season and it’s been another roller coaster ride without the raw emotions of the past few seasons. The Cobblers, for the first time in years, have finished in the unofficial home of mid-table obscurity – 12th place – and considering what could have happened it’s not all bad. After taking in a dramatic final day against a Wycombe side that had to eventually settle for the playoffs it’s clear that Town are well set up for next season but that the core of the squad needs to be supplemented by a stronger supporting cast.

From 1-11 there’s not a lot of positions that need changing. The goalkeeping situation is up in the air with Matt Duke’s imminent departure opening up the role to a fresh face. Duke has been fantastic for us but it’s time to move on with a younger stopper likely to come in. Shwan Jalal looked decent enough but over a full season we’ll need better. Jalal has a chance to prove himself ahead of a decision on his future but I still think we’ll bring in a concrete first choice keeper in the coming months.

I was surprised to see Lee Collins on the list of those not offered new deals. Zander Diamond and Ryan Cresswell are the out and out favourites of Chris Wilder but it would have made sense to have a backup who can also play on either side if needed. It could be a case of high wages and/or the desire of the player to play first team football but he may well be missed in the long term.

The midfield four seem solid enough and the fact that two of them – Jason Taylor and Rickie Holmes – were passed on by League Two rivals seems even more bizarre with the impact they’ve made here. The challenge for Holmes is now to keep his fantastic form going into next season…if he stays fit then we’ll be in with a chance of scoring in most games. The emergence of Lawson D’Ath has been another highlight and it’s hard to believe that he’s only 21 such is the assurance and quality he’s been showing in the second half of the season as the perfect balance to Holmes’ marauding around the opposite flank. Both wingers have set high standards that they’ll now be really in the focus when we kick off again in August.

Up top we could do with at least one more top drawer addition that not only pushes Rico and Ivan Toney but brings a whole new dimension to the attacking options. A big, rough and tumble ‘proper League Two’ striker would do the trick there (no obvious names need to be mentioned!) as well as another goal scorer to add to the mix.

It’ll then be about padding things out with a stronger sense that places in the team aren’t guaranteed. I got the feeling towards the end of the season that if (and of course, when) Rico or Holmes was laid out for a period, we didn’t have the back-up that would realistically be able to come in on a similar level.

Off the pitch, the East Stand drama goes on and on and we’re at least seeing builders returning and picking up tools again so by the end of September there may be something resembling a stand up there. It’s been a hugely frustrating wait but hopefully lessons have been learnt and Sixfields can return to being a four sided venue as soon as possible!

After a year of uncertainty and of nearly slipping into yet another relegation battle, the Cobblers are back on stable ground and a long, long way in front of where we were twelve months ago. The likes of Burton Albion have shown what continuity over a number of years can do for you and if Wilder can get his house in order early again then we may not be lost in obscurity for too long.

The Best yet…

D'Ath...more goals from one of the signings of the season.

D’Ath…more goals from one of the signings of the season.

What more can be said at the moment about the Cobblers and their extraordinary transformation from relegation threatened in late December to the side that’s now the highest scorers in the league, comfortable in mid-table and well and truly firing on all cylinders. After a resounding home win over Newport County came a showcase of how far we’ve come in just one month as a Town side playing for over fifty minutes with ten men produced a staggering 5-1 away win at Accrington Stanley.

It was without doubt the most rounded, confident and dominating win of the season so far and it was made all that bit more impressive by the fact that Ryan Cresswell was given his marching orders in the first half with the Cobblers starting to lose grip on what was a 2-0 lead, halved by the penalty that was converted via a rebound as a result of the dismissal.

I was all set for a backs to the walls performance from there on in and Stanley did make us work for a short period after the break but Town dug in and got a tremendous reward thanks to three more goals, partly handed to us on a plate but partly brilliantly crafted. It was a stunning effort from all involved and means that we’ve gone from being two points from the bottom two on December 28th (after a 2-1 defeat at Tranmere Rovers) to being just seven away from the playoffs by January 31st.

Once again, as has been the case through this whole run, Town relied on bottle at the back, battling midfield displays and goals from a number of different positions and situations. Rico is leading the way and could become the first Cobbler to net the League Two golden boot in years if he carries on this way. Two more at the Crown Ground were added to by the outstanding Lawson D’Ath who also scored twice, and Ricky Holmes.

D’Ath and Holmes have been revelations since cementing their first team places this month and the news that Holmes has signed a permanent deal is a huge bit of business. I can’t remember one game when D’Ath has underperformed and he won’t be with us for long if he carries on the eye catching form he’s currently on.

Everything is really looking up and though we know all too well that things can go to pot as soon as you start to feel that way in football but as we head into deadline day there’s not a lot I can think of that needs changing. Billy Bodin is a decent addition as a squad player who can play in a couple of positions but unless there’s any big injuries – the lack of which also adds to the momentum at the moment – I don’t see a lot changing from a starting eleven that’s not been changed in five games.

It’s still early enough for us to get genuinely interested in the playoffs though it will take an effort just as high as this month’s in the next few weeks for us to register more than just a dream like finale to a season that looked like it was going to the dogs. I have to admit (and can’t hide from it because my words are etched onto this blog!) that I was one of those questioning Chris Wilder a month ago but thankfully he’s proved a lot of people wrong with that huge winter clearance and signings that added heart and desire to a flagging squad.

By the time the home game with Morecambe comes around next week, Wilder may even have the Manager of the Month award threatening to curse him and his rejuvenated players. A month is a long, long time in football!

Let’s try that again, shall we?

Holmes...arrives on loan

Holmes…arrives on loan

It appears, after more damaging defeats, that Chris Wilder is looking to start all over again with a season that’s going further and further south by the week. On the pitch things have been almost as disjointed as they were a year ago with the only shed of light being the start we made that’s keeping us breathing in air for now and the manager is having another throw of the dice that he now has to get right.

Today has seen a mass clear out of loan players with Jordan Archer, Stewart Murdoch, Tom Newey and Ryan Watson and Danny Alfei sent packing back to Swansea City in a cancellation of a loan spell that will leave few tears falling on the Sixfields terraces. It’s a shakeup that’s been needed but Wilder will have to be very careful with his latest intake that are already starting to arrive.

It all started with Jason Taylor’s arrival from Cheltenham Town – a rugged, battler of a player by all accounts who looks likely to take the role of terrier away from Ricky Ravenhill who is also expected to leave Sixfields soon. With that being a straight swap of sorts there’s still plenty of gaps to fill and a right back and striker had to be priorities.

The right back arrived in the form of Brendon Maloney on loan from Yeovil Town this afternoon. He’s a former product of the Nottingham Forest academy and also played for a season with Bristol City so has a decent C.V for a 25 year old. He’s in a prime position of following Alfei and a run of two good games in a row would immediately equal an improvement in that position.

Signing number three was revealed to be winger Rickie Holmes who was Portsmouth’s player of the year last season but deemed surplus to requirements this time around. He’s a winger or second striker and the signing raises one or two questions over the futures of Chris Hackett, Lawson D’Ath and Kaid Mohammed, all of whom he’ll fight against for places in the side. He started out in Southend’s youth team so it’s a nice coincidence that his debut will come against the Shrimpers tomorrow afternoon. I’ve been impressed when he’s played against us so let’s hope the old Sixfields curse doesn’t come into play!

I would think that’s the end of the scramble for now but if Ivan Toney leaves over the next few weeks then we’ll definitely need more fire power.

As for those staying put and trying to dig themselves out of a hole, there’s only a couple who can lay a claim to having considerably helped the cause so far. Marc Richards is trying his hardest to single headedly pull us away from trouble but his goals are being cancelled out for the most part by more defending that’s bringing us back to the dark old days of twelve months ago. We need a period of getting results again, such is the nature of the decline down the table and Wilder now knows that his job is on the line and that this month is going to crucial to his tenure in more ways than one.

If this latest reboot turns into another false dawn then the players may not be the only ones heading for the hills in the early months of 2015.

Season stalling as injuries really kick in…   

Wilder...preparing for old club's visit

Wilder…preparing for old club’s visit

It’s increasingly frustrating as a football fan and in particular as a Cobblers fan when your team threatens to hit new heights, fires on every cylinder possible but then are suddenly halted and early dreams fade away even before the first leaves of Autumn hit the deck. Mid-table obscurity, at the end of the day, isn’t such a bad thing after last season’s brush with relegation but the twitches appear because we’re no longer the underdog and know full well that there’s a good side in there somewhere.

Saturday’s defeat at Cheltenham Town made it back to back league defeats for Chris Wilder ahead of his date with former club Oxford United on Tuesday night and a few things need to change if he’s to come through another big Sixfields night unscathed. What’s stopping us at the moment is the combination that comes when injuries severely throw the plans for a starting eleven.

There’s something very wrong when we get situations like this one – players are pulling up in training, getting injured in warm ups and constantly suffering setbacks en route to recoveries. We almost have a full starting eleven that’s been out of the side for a good amount of time and finding any sort of consistency in those circumstances is nigh on impossible.

So it came to pass that Town were beaten at Whaddon Road despite a couple of glimpses that we might just scrape something from the game. It’s that closeness that makes it that bit more difficult to analyse. If we were losing 5 or 6-0 every week we’d clearly know what was going wrong but with narrow defeats it means Wilder would be even more tempted to make minor tweaks to arrest certain problems.

I can’t name most of the eleven that will turn out against Oxford and they’ll visit with a spring in their step from winning a big game at the weekend against Tranmere Rovers. They’ll also likely play up to stop us from getting any foot hold in the game as well as trying to pry on our weaknesses from set plays.

Saturday’s goals were mainly products of needless free kicks given away and not enough urgency or organisation of the back five. We cannot keep relying on the attacking options at our disposal to keep us a step ahead of the opposition because most sides in this division will know how to frustrate and force free kicks and corners that they know they can threaten with.

At the very top we’re clearly missing Marc Richards’ presence and experience. Alex Nicholls is still working his way back and Ivan Toney is still a bit hit and miss as he grows into his boots more and more. There’s a chance that Emile Sinclair may be back soon to carry some of the burden and to insert a bit of experience in that’s lacking since Rico’s injury.

There’s plenty of nerves starting to build around the club ahead of two games that just about count as derbies. The Luton away fixture is going to ignite a red hot atmosphere on Saturday so we really have to get it right on Tuesday night to avoid going to Kenilworth Road with any added pressure.

It’s cranking up and we have to cling on, step up and rise to this latest challenge.

Communication Breakdown

sixfields

The home game against Burton Albion was supposed to be the day that Sixfields completed the first stage of its new development. When the East Stand had been demolished, the aim (a bit hopeful I know) was to get it back up and in working order by the time the Brewers were in town. The reality is that we’ve got a partly built stand, mass confusion, rumours swirling and, most notably, a lack of proper communication from the club.

The subsequent defeat to Albion yesterday felt like a day to bury bad news and the result on the face of it isn’t as worrying as what’s going on the side of the ground where starlings once swarmed.

I’ll start off by saying that I have absolutely no idea what’s going on with the East Stand other than what I’ve heard from the club about contract disputes and the like. I won’t be spinning any rumours here but what is important is to try and put across the frustration that many of us are feeling. It’s not even frustration at why the builders have dropped tools but the fact that no-one at the club seems to want to tell us straight what’s happening.

The communications department seem to have been on sabbatical for over a year now. Any injury news is kept completely under wraps. Players can be ruled out for months and then appear on the bench or, in the case of Lewis Hornby (remember him?), they can pick up an injury in training and are then not heard of apart from in fleeting mentions once in a blue moon. If a player’s out for months, tells us. If someone’s career is over, tell us. There’s a growing sense that the club is being locked behind the four – sorry three – walls of Sixfields and to the fans that can’t be good.

As a parent I’m constantly saying to my daughter that I would rather her tell me if she’s taken an extra sweet from the pot than lie and say it was someone else. For the period of time that we’re in limbo that relationship is suffering and on a bigger scale this is what’s starting to happen between the Cobblers as a club and its most important cog, the supporters.

We’re supposed to be celebrating twenty years of Sixfields this week and indeed you’ll see your top twenty moments chronicled in the next few days (cheap plug – done). Instead, though, we’re debating what the real reasons are that the work men have stopped their building.

All it would take was an honest and open message from the Chairman. If money hasn’t been paid for reason a or reason b then please just tell us. The longer the issues are stretched out the more damaging it becomes on the relationship between club and fans and that only causes aggravation on the terraces and a drop in performances on the pitch. We’re in a position where the players are actually pretty decent but if everything around them crumbles it’s only a matter of time until they too get disenchanted.

The time is now for the lines of communication to be restored.