Cobblers forced off top but still sitting pretty at Christmas…

wilder.gif-470993The run is over and the Cobblers have been knocked out of the Christmas Number One battle at the very last second of the race. But while Christmas Day is usually spent in a state of apprehension, this year we’re staring down at the majority of League Two after one the most extraordinary first halves of the season in recent memory so second place is nothing to shake the proverbial stick at.

It was all going to come to an end eventually, of course, but this defeat doesn’t feel like the end of something but more of a marker as to how far we’ve come when a late defeat to one of the favourites for the title becomes a bitter disappointment. After an, at times, pulsating encounter at Sixfields there wouldn’t be a lot of people leaving the stadium arguing that the two teams on show won’t be there or there abouts in the promotion race in May.

Portsmouth came and gave as good as they got and this was a clear step up from the opposition facing us in the last few weeks at Sixfields. The fact that we hung with them for the majority of the game should be good enough to keep the spirits high ahead of three big games over the Christmas and New Year calendar which will set the tone for the next phase of the season.

Obviously there are still things to work on and another centre back in the January sales with a bit of pace and a calm head – Shaun Brisley’s return from down the road perhaps – would be welcome but you can’t argue with the attacking flair that Chris Wilder’s men are playing with. It’s arguably the most exciting Cobblers sides in terms of attacking intent, attitude and determination that I’ve ever seen. Previous promotions from League Two in 1997, 2000 and 2006 have come about more from graft than guile apart from the odd flashes of individual genius from the likes of Martin Smith, Marco Gabbiadini and, erm, Dean Peer.

This squad has something special and they must be kept together and even added to by a couple in January – it’s not only the best chance we’ve had of promotion in years but the best chance of going up with a squad capable of competing in League One should they all stay together. Injuries or suspensions could, at the moment, cause a few problems, but Kelvin Thomas has already hinted that some back up may be drafted in during the transfer window.

All in all, we can sit comfortably on Christmas Day 2015 knowing that the club is back in safe hands and the team are in a phenomenal position.

So here’s wishing you all a peaceful and Happy Christmas. Thank you for continuing to read – this blog will be 10 years old in June so let’s hope we’re celebrating the same way we were when I started it…with promotion.

 

The Cobblers Christmas Message 2012

“2011 has seen the Cobblers go through six management teams, pick up just nine league victories from forty eight games and face the possibility of going into the New Year in the relegation zone or even bottom of the entire Football League. We’ve also conceded the most goals of any of the top four divisions in the country” (Aloadofcobblers blog, December 2011)

As you prepare to settle down for your Christmas dinners today I hope that all is well in your world. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, the chances are that reading this you are a supporter of Northampton Town. If you are, then welcome to my Christmas message of 2012, if not then we just need to become better friends. Hello and Merry Christmas to you all!

I thought I would send out my random thoughts on all things Cobblers in my Christmas message. If the Queen can do it (don’t ask about my views on monarchy, that’s for another time!) then I can certainly spare some time in this festive period.

Above is an extract from a similar blog I wrote a year ago. It followed a poor start to Aidy Boothroyd’s reign as Cobblers boss that created heightened panic after a 3-2 defeat to Burton at home on Boxing Day. A year late and we’re not only winning games but looking at an outside chance of exiting League Two at the right end.

2012 has been a year of transition for Northampton Town. Boothroyd’s promises that things would get worse before they got better were true but when it did get better it was just in time to save us from the dreaded drop. Sixfields has become the home that we so needed it to be. Teams are beginning to come here with fear again and some have tried to shut up shop early on, showing a change in attitude from where visiting teams were twelve months ago.

Young players have come to the fore with the FA Cup First Round Replay at Bradford highlighting some of the terrific prospects that we have on the books. Lewis Hornby has gone from strength to strength to become a staple of the starting eleven and leading many to compare him with Michael Jacobs who is now flourishing at Derby County.

Goals are also readily available. Alex Nicholls was a surprise hit after signing from Walsall in the summer and setting the bar high in the leading scorer’s charts. His nightmare injury was awful timing but the incident and the gutsy win against Port Vale highlighted a new attitude in the squad. Bayo has picked up the mantle and has once again proved beyond any doubt that he needs to stay at Sixfields. It makes any slight rumour of his departure send panic waves through anyone with a Cobblers persuasion. A new deal needs to be sorted as soon as possible for a man who is becoming more than just a Northampton player and more a brand name and a reason to come to Sixfields. 2012 was the beginning of the #beastmode movement and there’s plenty more to come.

Looking ahead to 2013, we have a good enough squad to compete in the top half of League Two. The problems will lie when injuries hit but even when we went through a shocking run of absences we’ve been able to deal with it well with young and hungry players chomping at the bit to come in and do a job. It’s easy to forget that the likes of John Johnson, David Artell and Luke Guttridge are still to come back into the squad in the New Year. Maybe we’ll even see Nana again!

So there’s  plenty to bring us cheer this Christmas time with a positive outlook on the horizon. If you’re celebrating Christmas or doing something completely different, I hope this message finds you in good spirits. There’s a lot of bad news in the world at the moment and this blog has never meant to be ignorant of any of it but instead provide something mildly entertaining for football fans to read on their rounds of the blogs. Football can provide an escape for many people for a variety of reasons and I’ve enjoyed coming through another year of writing about my beloved team.

My final message, then, is to thank you – yes, you there- for sticking with me during 2012 and making me feel like it’s all worthwhile. I’ll be back after the Gillingham game with a roundup of the two post-Christmas games but for now I wish you all the happiest of times over Christmas and beyond.

Danny