End of an era as Gilligan and Crowe get set to leave…

Today saw the end of a certain age of Cobblers players as the longest serving player in the current ranks, Ryan Gilligan, was told that he and Jason Crowe will be released in the summer. The duo are the last remaining players (Crowe albeit after a return to the club) to have been involved in the last promotion season back in 2006.

Gilligan is the more curious case of the two having had a strange old time of things since signing from Watford in 2005. Starting out as a striker, he made a good start to his Cobblers career and played a big role in that promotion including an important winner in the 1-0 win at Wrexham and that dramatic equaliser at Grimsby Town that prevented the Mariners from joining us in League One.

Moving back into midfield from then on, Gilligan found some good form and his battling style earned praise and a new contract at the end of the following season. After a difficult relegation season, he returned to form in League Two and scored eleven times in the 2009/10 season. It was during the following campaign that things started to turn.

A rumoured falling out with management saw Gilligan fall out of favour and he was loaned out to Torquay United for a brief period. Gary Johnson didn’t see him in his plans either on his appointment and Gilligan’s return and another loan, this time at Newport County, followed at the start of this season.

So it was fairly inevitable that once Aidy Boothroyd didn’t include him in his squads at this end of the season that Gilligan’s ties with the club would finally be coming to an end. It’s a shame for a player that I’ve always thought had something to offer. It’s not for me to speculate over what did or didn’t go on behind the scenes so based on Gilligan as a player it’s a shame that he couldn’t rediscover the form of old and make a comeback in time for the run-in.

There has to be room freed up though and Crowe was another obvious one to be told that his services won’t be needed. His return to the club where he became a popular figure – enough for us to lord his reappearance earlier this year – became short and we’ll have to remember him by his previous incarnation at Sixfields.

Those glory years of 2006 seem like decades ago now but as the final two stalwarts of that side depart, it’s time to close the book on that chapter of our past and look to what is hopefully to be a fine follow up. Unless Pedj Bojic fancies coming back…