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Gripped by the Cobblers: Time to bring Williams and Roberts back

Viva the homegrown revolution, writes Tom Reed

There was panic on the pitch at Carlisle for Steven Pressley’s Cumbrians after they had been toasted by a Scott Pollock scorcher. The 18 year-old had put in a fine 55 minutes the previous Saturday v Salford lads club but stepped up his performance with a fine goal.

Pollock, the hashtag kid, sent a rising first time left-footed thunderbolt past Adam Collin to deliver the magical 176 travelling shoe army into raptures. They are probably still driving home now thinking about Pollock’s power-whack. Sam Hoskins even scored too. What a night.

It begs the question why homegrown Pollock had played only 6 league minutes prior to Saturday?

This is a player with serious game-changing trekkers and a natural ability for find space. Instead, Curle has favoured a 33 year-old Chris Lines who is surely coming to the end of his career. It gets to the crux of the use them or lose them debate about homegrown talent in general and specifically Northampton’s trophy winning youth teams.

The club were all over the homegrown aspect of the win, as Wootton boy Pollock lined up alongside Kings Heath lad Shaun McWilliams. And so they bloody well should be, it oozes a local feel good factor that playing journeymen just doesn’t. By playing Pollock you’re developing not just a homegrown asset but an English one too and such talent comes with a transfer premium. 

The 1950’s line of sending youth talent to the North West Premier Division Miners League Watch Your Kneecaps Lads Division 2 just doesn’t take into account the progression potential of playing on EFL pitches with better refs (snarf) and the Cobblers faithful behind them. 

Moreover, it’s not just what a manager sees in a player such as Pollock but also watching higher level scouts who may be looking for an altogether different brief than a lower league manager. Exeter City are hot on this aspect and have sold homegrown players for bundles. It’s not as if we want our good young players to be sold for a packet but we’d be unwise to not see their transformational potential with regards transfer fees.

Across the county, local football writer Jon Dunham was beside himself with the performance of Morgan Roberts on loan to AFC Rushden and Diamonds. What do you expect with a League 2 player on loan to step 7 of English football, of course he’s going to stand out a mile. Give Roberts League 2 minutes and then if needs be you’ll give Conference clubs clues as to why they should take such talent on loan, not just ghost players ratting around on subs benches or hidden away at Moulton.

Bring Roberts and Jay Williams back, trust them and play them as a former Cobblers youth player said on Twitter this week and the benefits will be multiple for this football club. A pretty pathway means nothing if its got a closed door at the end of it, Curle has wrenched it open but it needs a door wedge.

Redevelopment red herring and Sixfields space

Another week goes by with the Chernobyl-esquel East Stand sitting as a shell. “Just get it finished” yelp exasperated Cobblers fans like Brexit enthusiasts unsure what the final deal will even be. When Cardoza was first mooting the idea, it seemed like a game-changer but that ship sailed and 150 odd extra seats and a few executive boxes aren’t going to alter Town’s direction of travel much.

What the club does have is space, behind the North, South and East Stands to deliver a modern fan experience and ratchet up the turnover.  There’s space in the North section to deliver one of the best safe standing home ends in the country and bring the Hotel End back to life, albeit bang up to date. Behind the East Stand a state of the art fanzone modelled on the one getting plaudits at Brondby in Denmark, a proper space for the Sixfields Sounds DJ who is doing excellent stuff and some fine Phipps beers.

A double tiered away end could have an away fan area like the outside fanzone at the Saints. If a wider land deal is a no-go then you have an athletics track to build on. Exeter built their fine new stand via some student flats. Why not consider something similar at Cobblers and get the University’s sports science students on the ground at Sixfields with accommodation and some hybrid training pitches?

The Trust are proposing the creation of an infrastructure foundation using multi-directional funding including sponsorship and crowd-funding to build a decent stadium we can pass on to our children. It would be nice if the club could bury a few hatchets and get together to work on projects that the supporter base and wider community can actually bring a lot to.

These are areas where the club should also be putting some focus, rather than finishing an exceedingly poor East Stand of Cardoza’s bungled making.

Promotion aspirations, a building season and the Keith Curle Hokey Cokey

First a Panama hatted Keith Curle was talking about his desire to get a promotion on his CV. Now it’s a building season for Town after Cobblers were trounced by Scunthorpe. Just a little lesson for Keith that you can’t mention the P-Word to Cobblers fans and then downgrade expectations whenever it looks like we’re going through a rough patch. There’s far too many nonsense interviews in the local press where staff and players tie themselves up in knots. Just let the on pitch action do the talking. The fans are more than capable of working out if we have a side of promotion potential or look like relegation fodder. It’s the former currently, thank god.

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