Longtime Cobblers fan Andy Roberts takes a peek into Northampton Town’s chamber of horrors…
You can probably remember where you were and what you were doing when JFK was shot, when Princess Diana died in a car crash and when the UK last won the Eurovision Song Contest.
But only those born before the Second World War can probably remember where they were on the day when apparently the largest sunspot ever was recorded.
Dateline: 8 April 1947. And what, you may be asking, has this got to do with the Cobblers?
Well, on that date a very long, long time ago, the Cobblers were hammered 8-0 at the County Ground by Walsall in the Football League.
The Cobblers have trawled some horrible depths in the intervening 70 years but at no point during that period of time did they actually manage to lose by six goals or more at home in the league.
Until of course very recently – 7 October 2017 – when those Pirates from Bristol Rovers pillaged six goals without reply at Sixfields.
Manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink admitted to being shell shocked, only a month or so into his reign.
It could honestly have been 10 goals and counting for Rovers that afternoon. The Cobblers were that dreadful.
There have been some rough old Cobblers home games over the years but it is difficult to recall one as spineless and dispiriting as this one.
In the context of the club’s current position and its realistic aspiration – backed by a good chunk of Chinese investment – this may even have been the lowest of the low.
Below are some other home horror shows, one for each decade, that readily spring to my mind.
- Northampton 2 Swindon 6 (1968) – this was before my Cobblers time but I can imagine this result will not have gone down well at all. Swindon, the other team from the County Ground, were big rivals in the late Sixties. A defeat as part of the slump which followed the one and only season in Division One.
- Northampton 2 Manchester United 8 (1970) – the last occasion a Cobblers side had lost by six goals at home, in the FA Cup when a certain George scored six of the Best. Beaten though by a side three divisions higher, to give this result proper context. The result that defines Northampton Town for all the wrong reasons.
- Northampton 0 Wrexham 4 (1985) – okay, I didn’t feel well that night. And it was only four goals. But it was Wrexham, and no English club likes to lose at home to the Welsh. Enter the dragon, and all that. If you think it is bad now, 1984 and 1985 were truly dire years for Northampton football. Two weeks later, only 942 turned up for a home game against Chester (0-2).
- Northampton 0 Bury 5 (1995) – the manager was the no-nonsense Ian Atkins but even he had it tough before building a successful team in his own image. The Shakers took the Cobblers to the cleaners and repeated the scoreline at Gigg Lane six weeks later. Atkins publicly lambasted several of his players and said that for several of them time had run out. He was true to his word.
- Northampton 0 Wycombe 5 (2003) – you know something must be up when little Wycombe can trot up the road to your manor and go home with a 5-0 victory. Some good names in that losing Cobblers side that day. A horrible performance and indeed something was up – manager Kevan Broadhurst lost his job and was replaced by Terry Fenwick as the club went into new ownership. That went well!
- Northampton 2 Shrewsbury 7 (2011) – the Cobblers had parted company with manager Gary Johnson earlier in the week and caretaker boss David Lee was in the hot seat. For one game only, as it turned out and what a game to have on your managerial CV! The Shrews ran riot and seven goals for a visiting side remains a record at Sixfields, although the old Wimbledon once managed the same as the went Wombling free in a pre-season friendly.