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In praise of Jon Brady, the considered Aussie with a Bear heart and a playoff dream still alive

Tom Reed reflects on being won over by Aussie Cobblers manager John Brady

Jon Brady was born in Newcastle, Australia that is, and he ain’t no Magpie but a Cobbler.

His youth football club down under was the beautifully titled Adamstown Rosebuds but now he’s found his place in the Rose Of The Shires. 

Brady’s face isn’t the easy expression of the laid-back surfers on Newcastle beach in New South Wales, his is the grizzled visage of too many games down the flank at Nene Park and on the Cobblers’ training pitches at Moulton.

He would fit in, in the Bear public house in Northampton town centre, quietly spoken, considered, not one to suffer fools gladly but liable to raise a wry smile in the right company.

Brady got the Cobblers job just a week after they’d been relegated from League 1 at Blackpool in May 2021. It was through no fault of his own but the emotion ran clean and true through the adopted Northamptonian as, for once, his measured approach gave way with tears welling in his eyes like beer in the drip trays of the Bear.

“It’s so raw right now for me. I’ve given everything I’ve got for this football club, I’ve given it all the hours under the sun, pushed my family aside for this”

The Cobblers had been through the John Scarrott funfair season of merry-go-round managers, ending up with Keith Curle, whose football, although partially effective, was jarring for Town fans who were playing better stuff on the racecourse on a Sunday.

A pragmatic Brady didn’t change things massively, but alongside behind-the-scenes upgrades saw a team develop that the shoe army could buy into. 

Colin Calderwood in as assistant, the vastly experienced ex-Spurs defender who had won promotion with the Cobblers in another life as manager. Marc Richards in to support, a lower-league legend of a forward who could still probably do a job now.

The holy trinity of Pinnock, Appere and Eppiah brought in for their technique and ball moving ability which came to a head at Leyton Orient, where the O’s were smoked in front a Cobblers faithful on the lash in the capital.

There have been missteps along the way of course, for this rookie Football League manager who was booking the hotels himself and various other workaday tasks when boss of Brackley.

A couple of dubious substitutions and some harsh words about youth product Scott Pollock which may have been better left unsaid. Some fans have questioned his tactical ability at League level but he’s ridden it out like those last winter waves in Newcastle and now Town are one game away from Wembley.

That’s the way to look at it for Cobblers, who although 2-1 down from the League Playoff Semi Final at Field Mill, are still very much in the tie. John Gayle at Bristol Rovers showed us that.

While pressure-cooked opposition managers and strangely obsessed fans of opposition teams have been covering anxiety with loud voices, Brady has kept his council.  

If Northampton Town do make Wembley and do the business under the arch then it’ll be just rewards for a team and a gaffer who’ve suffered a Brinks Mat level robbery of automatic promotion.

Yet, if they do fall short, it will be sad on a sporting level but no-one will hold a grudge after this fine season polished with dignity, stubbornness and trust felt emotion of a boss who quietly shoulders everything like those old face labourers and scaffolders who enjoy their pints at the pubs in town if you know where to look.

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