All this week on our dedicated Cobblers Twitter feed @NQNTFC we have been talking about Northampton Town’s all time best skilful players. Forget tracking back and defending, we asked for your picks of players that could waltz through the opposition like Pele in Escape to Victory. The tricksters, the technicians, the maestros, the players you’d pay to watch. And you delivered. I’ve put the best into a team that would take some stopping.
Chris Wilder is a natural standout to manage this Cobblers side, full of the most skilful players to ever wear the claret and white. Wilder, the leader of men who got his 2015/15 Cobblers side to 99 points and the title, most of the season unpaid. Wilder would have the nouse to weave so much talent and so many egos together into a unit that will walk all over the opposition. Wilder’s our man and this side is going on to European glory. You’d want him after a few bevvies like when he got promoted with Sheffield United to expand his mind and get this best out of these mavericks. Groovy.
Some would say a fluid 4-3-3- is the go-to setup for a team of such talent but do you really need 4 defenders for a team that is going to go through the opposition like a hot knife through Anchor Spreadable? The answer is obviously no and it’s time for the much fabled 1-4-5 formation to be unleashed. 1 defender, there to do little more than nonchalantly mop up and effect wave after wave of deadly attacking surges from an unstoppable attacking lineup.
Goalkeeper: Andy Woodman
Let’s face it this fella is going be there to look pretty as the team is going to do the business at the top end of the pitch. Was going to go for Peter Gleasure for his ability to play sweeper keeper and unleash counter attacks but Woody gets the nod for being a cool dude. He’ll probably wear sunglasses for this like he did on the Cobblers victory parade on the market square in ’97. Let him have a Stella too, he won’t be needed much.
Centre-Back: Gabor Gyepes
We’re only going with 1 defender and Gyepes is your man. Signed by Stuart Gray in 2008 the Hungarian was a sheer class act, beautifully balanced and read the game like Puskas. He’d glide around in front of Woodman and move the ball on with elan. No-one would get near him. He was a bloody Hungarian international, a Hungarian international! Ok, have calmed down now.
Left Midfield: Martin Smith
Martin Smith’s a football genius. Need we say anymore. Well a little bit, Mackem Smith turned up in the early 2000’s with a touch of old school class, just a well balanced, very good footballer and would provide some killer assistance to his David Copperfield level of magic team mates. His middle name is Geoffrey which is an added bonus.
Right Midfield: John Hodge
Quite simply the best winger Cobblers have ever had despite, as one fan put it, “being shaped like an egg”. Hodgy was mega at all the old-fashioned wing work of getting the ball up the pitch, stepovers, drag-backs, dropping the shoulder he had it all on his locker. A crowd pleaser, Hodgy would put chances on a plate and watch the goals rain like the jackpot at Vegas.
Centre-Midfield: Efon Elad
You cannot underestimate the buzz when Elad turned up to the County Ground in the early 90’s, the Cobblers were truly crap and this fella was supposedly a “Cameroon international”. Whether he was or not was a moot point as the “bottle of fizzy pop” as he was described by manager John Barnwell waltzed his way through defences like a mix of Forest Gump and Roger Milla. The rumour he turned up to Ritzy’s nightclub in a bomber jacket and shorts only adds to this man’s legend. He could run this team on his own. The man, the myth.
Centre-Midfield: Kevin Thornton
Some might say a centre-midfield of Elad and the mercurially skilled Irishman Thornton may be a bit porous but let’s not pretend the opposition would ever get the ball. Thornton came into Ian Sampson’s side and was a class apart, being able to shift the ball between both feet and slalom through opposition boxes. Thornton of course was one of the stars of “that night” at Anfield shushing the Kop as Town beat Liverpool.
His potential in this team to run towards opposition boxes is enough to strike fear into opposition bosses. Be afraid, be very afraid.
Wide Left attack: Michael Jacobs
Cobblers have produced some good homegrown players over the year but skills wise, Jacobs is up there. Beautifully balanced and with that cocky edge you need, “Crackers” scored a couple of worldies V Shrewsbury at Sixfields (look them up) the second a glorious negotiation of a tricky pitch and then a long range top corner curler that would have braced the Maracana. He’s in without question.
Wide Right attack: Hildeberto Pereira
Was it real or was it a dream that Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was once Northampton boss and he signed a kick-ass Portuguese winger called Pereira? Who knows but we think it’s true that Pereira looked like the new Ronaldo as he burst onto the scene at Sixfelds. Would he last a match without getting send off? What the hell was he doing in Northampton? So many unanswered questions but this lad had the skills to pay the bills.
Left Attack: Ricky Holmes
Ricky Holmes scored one of the all time great goals in the whole world at Leyton Orient. Watch it and tell me it wasn’t the truth. Messi is an alien but Holmes was a gift from god. Guaranteed to score from long range probably 3 or 4 a match in this team. Eat that.
RIght Attack: Trevor Morley
You could probably pick 2 or 3 from Graham Carr’s “Champagne Cobblers” team for this skilful lineup but Morley was the one. Morley ability to drift around the final third and maintain a first rate 80’s blow dry and he went on after Cobblers to have a good career at Man City and West Ham. Realistically going to bag for fun is this lineup.
Centre Forward: Poul Hubertz
No need to overload this team with strikers as the ball is going to be walked into the net more often than not. But Danish nutter Hubertz is an easy pick and able to score all sorts of goals. His over-head kick v Forest remains a standout for a tall forward. If anyone in this team even thought about dropping back, Hubertz would be screaming at them to bomb on. Still no idea how he ever ended up in Northampton but oh so glad he did.
Unfortunately his career was cut short by injury but Stratford was the one that Cobblers fans of the 70’s say was mustard. A proper talented player who would add another layer of wizardry to this outstanding outfit.
Somewhat reigned in by the direct style of Keith Curle it’s clear that Pollock has skill to spare. Just get in there Scott, forget about defending and do your stuff. Handy with a toilet roll too if you see his Isolation Challenge video.
Marin Pozgain & Lumbardh Salihou
No-one knows what these 2 Austrians were like as they never really played after being signed by Gary Johnson but the rumour is they could do some tremendous keepy uppies so they are in on that basis. This team is basically the Northampton Harlem Globetrotters.
Northampton Town best ever skilful team:
Hodge Elad Thornton Smith
Pereira Morley Hubertz Holmes Jacobs