Cobblers versus Milton Keynes on Saturday and the regular debate about whether the match between two sides twenty miles apart can be considered a derby, writes Tom Reed.
True, you have the local element and the distasteful origin of the MK club in consuming Wimbledon and their Dons moniker.
Apart from that, nah. You need history to be part of a derby, the blood sweat and tears of a community building a club from the ground up. Derby matches are passed down through generations, through the tales of fathers, mothers, sons, daughters and cousins. Derby matches resonate as much through memory as the anticipation of matches to come.
You can’t just build a ground and then declare a derby against whatever club you pitch up alongside. It’s like turning up to a party unannounced “Your not invited lads”.
Northampton V Peterborough is a local derby with a rankling going back to when Peterborough ditched Northamptonshire to become part of Cambridgeshire. The way the Posh pronounce the river Nene as “Neen” is simply obscene. It’s a derby rooted in the bovver boy era of the 70’s and the infamous battle of Abington Park where youths from both team turned Northampton’s leafy park into a war-zone. It’s a tit for tat local derby of backstreet skirmishes, transfer raids and smashed up pubs. Northampton fans have never forgiven Peterborough for taking star strikers Tony Adcock and Bobby Barnes when the Cobblers were cash strapped but that is, of course, perfectly acceptable behaviour between two teams that love to hate each other.
You need hate for a derby and there is no hate from Northampton fans towards people that go and watch MK. No hate, just pity.
Sam Foley: Northampton’s ghost-like midfield wonder
Every team has that player who you forget are even there they are so quietly efficient but you couldn’t do without them. Sam Foley is that for Northampton, never short of a 7 out of 10, week in week out, Cobblers’ conduit to keeping the ball moving. The former Port Vale man ghosts through the centre of midfield, all simple passes and short bursts between lines. Foley, is the sort of smart, elegant, technically gifted player that is overshadowed by the flashier flourishes of the likes of Kevin Van Veen. Slowly but surely however he is emerging as one of the first on the Cobblers team sheet. Watch him ghost between the MK midfield on Saturday in their eery stadium.
Under 18’s pulling up trees
It’s easy to criticise the club with the East Stand still uncompleted nearly 3 years after the Thomas/Bower takeover. Yet, Northampton’s Under 18 academy side look very promising and are currently top of the EFL Youth Alliance South East Division. That league includes the aforementioned Milton Keynes and Peterborough, the latter who Town disposed of 1-0 recently.
Scott Pollock, who once played for the curious online phenomenon side Hashtag United score the winner for Cobblers V the Posh and is being talked up as one to watch.
Time will tell if youth promise develops into 1st team starting reality but manager Jon Brady and team deserve credit for the Under 18’s long undefeated run.