Wednesday 13th May 1998, probably the greatest night in Cobblers’ history while at Sixfields. Cobblers defeated the odds of a 3-1 aggregate deficit to beat Bristol Rovers in the Second Division playoff semi-final to reach Wembley. The atmosphere that night at a sold-out Sixfields was raucous with Town not taking no for an answer all over the park and if the Cobblers players and fans can draw on that kind of energy again tonight, Derby County can be rolled over.
Ian Atkins’ underdog Cobblers drew on real characters in 1998 with goals from Carl Heggs, Ian Clarkson and Ray Warburton thumping Ian Holloway’s Rovers. The comparisons with Town’s current crop are there too see, Cobblers played 5 at the back to cane Rovers (Keith Curle’s go-to formation) while Charlie Goode is reminiscent of Warburton in both stature and leadership. For James Hunt see Alan McCormack, for John Gayle see Vadaine Oliver. If anything, this Cobblers side is better than the 1998 version so if Town can draw on the Atkins era grit with some game-changing technique, they can strike a knock-out blow to a Derby side who are by no means having their own way in the Championship.
So, let’s forget “Wayne Rooney’s” Derby and back a Cobblers outfit that’s about being a team unit and has been all season. County might have a bigger stadium and a few more trophies but Town fans are just as passionate about the Cobblers as Rams’ fans are about Derby. Time to bring back the spirit of ’98 when Sixfields rocked and the shoe army sucked the ball into the net by turning the atmosphere up to 11.
“Power football” Ian Atkins called it that night v Bristol Rovers and Keith Curle’s men can bring the force tonight.
Safe standing solution not far away as fans come out in support
There was a strong reaction for the safe standing open letter we sent to the club this week from the Standing At Sixfields Campaign group. Near on 150 fans co-signed the letter with many more offering their support for the installation of safe standing at Sixfields. It’s clear that there is demand for safe standing at Sixfields as there is all over the country with a glut of clubs thought to be looking at installation over the summer. With all the preparation work, Cobblers are well placed to be at the front of the queue rather than the back.
The club has said there was some concern that the Cobblers may lose some fans if safe standing was introduced to the Sheinman (North) Stand but that needs a little more looking at and we are confident that a solution can be found to ensure that fans get a fair choice to stand or sit safely at the Cobblers. For arguments sake you could in theory rail seat the North Stand and still provide seating opportunities in that area for those that would rather sit or simply can’t stand. There are plenty of different options and the Standing at Sixfields group looks forward to some positive dialogue with the club in the coming weeks, who in fairness have been open minded about the whole issue.