|Nickname(s) The Cobblers|
Ground Capacity 7,798
Manager Justin Edinburgh
League EFL League One
|Ground Sixfields Stadium|
Website Club home page
Arena/Stadium Sixfields Stadium
Chairman Kelvin Thomas
|Full name Northampton Town Football Club|
2015–16 League Two, 1st (promoted)
Location Northampton, United Kingdom
Northampton Town Football Club /nɔːrˈθæmptən ˈtaʊn/ is a professional association football club based in the town of Northampton, Northamptonshire, England. The team play in League One, the third tier of English football. They hold the record for the shortest time taken to be promoted from the bottom tier to the top tier and relegated back down to the bottom again, in the space of nine years.
- Inter war period
- Rise and fall
- 1970s and 80s
- Worrying times
- The Sixfields era
- Records and statistics
- Current squad
- PFA Team of the Year
- Cult Heroes
- Board of directors and ownership
- Current management team
- Managerial history
- County Ground
Northampton were formed in 1897, after meetings between the town’s schoolteachers and local solicitor A.J. Darnell. They play their home games at the 7,724 capacity all-seater Sixfields Stadium, having moved in 1994 from the County Ground which they shared with the owners, Northamptonshire County Cricket Club. The club’s main rivals are Peterborough United, a rivalry which has endured since the 1960s. Other recent rivals include Rushden & Diamonds and Oxford United. The club's colours have traditionally been claret and white. The club nickname is "The Cobblers", a reference to the town's historical shoe-making industry.
In 1919–20, the first season after the war, Town conceded a club record 103 goals. Nonetheless, the club was allowed to join the Football League for the following season, in Division Three (South). 1922–23 saw the club become a public company and 8,000 shares were released at £1. The season produced a record crowd of 18,123 against Plymouth on Boxing day and gate receipts for the first time exceeded £1,000. 1923–24 started with the club raising £5,000 to build a stand with a players' tunnel underneath and also improved terracing in the Hotel End. The following season saw the formation of the supporters' club. In 1925 the club's first foreign transfer took place as William Shaw was signed from Barcelona. A new ground record was set for the F.A. Cup third-round replay with Sunderland, 21,148 turned up to see the Cobblers lose 3–0. However, disaster occurred at the County Ground during December 1929, when a fire destroyed three stands, with damage valued at around £5,000. Only one stand was saved although this was charred. The source of the fire was thought to be in the away dressing room; the Cobblers had earlier entertained AFC Bournemouth reserves. By August 1930, the stands were rebuilt.
In 1932–33, the club created history when brothers Fred and Albert Dawes both scored in an 8–0 win over Newport County. The latter finished the season scoring 32 league goals and even scored all four in a 4–0 win over the Netherlands national football team while the club was on tour. In 1933–34, the F.A. Cup fifth round was reached for the first time courtesy of a fourth round win away to Huddersfield Town who, at the time were top of Division One. The Cobblers lost to Preston North End 4–0 at Deepdale, setting a new ground record of 40,180. In the three seasons prior to the breakout of World War II, the Cobblers finished seventh, ninth and 17th respectively in Division Three (South). In the final match prior to the war, they travelled to Dean Court and lost 10–0, the club's record league defeat. During the war the Cobblers had the record for the first transfer fee received during the hostilities when Bobby King was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a substantial four-figure fee.
Rise and fall
Northampton were promoted three times in the five years 1960 to 1965. Starting the 1960–61 season in the Fourth Division, they reached the First Division in 1965–66, their only season ever in the top division of English football. They were then relegated back to the Fourth Division over the next five years, playing in the bottom tier again in 1969–70. During their top-flight season they earned a double against Aston Villa and victories at home over such luminaries as Leeds, Newcastle, West Ham, and Blackburn,were the only team they finished above in the table.
1970s and 80s
In 1970, they lost 8–2 to Manchester United in the FA Cup fifth round. Six of the goals conceded were scored by George Best, who received the match ball (signed by Northampton players) as a reward for his performance. For the first time since becoming a league side the club had to apply for re-election in 1971, they finished the most favoured club with 49 votes. In the 1974–75 season, future England International Phil Neal was sold, after 200 games in all competitions for the Cobblers, Liverpool bought Neal for a then club record of £65,000, whilst playing in the same side of another future England International, John Gregory. Finally during the 1975–76 season, the club finished 2nd in Division Four and were promoted behind champions Lincoln City. They did this without losing a home game and having every regular player scored during the season, including the goalkeeper, Alan Starling, who netted from a penalty in the penultimate home game against Hartlepool United. In 1976–77, the club were relegated back to Division Four, the season started with ex-Manchester United assistant manager, Pat Crerand in charge, however he resigned in the new year. No new manager was appointed, instead a committee was formed consisting of the chairman, the coach and three senior players. Prior to the start of the 1979–80 season, George Reilly was sold to Cambridge United for a then record of £165,000, he had been the club's top scorer for the previous two seasons.
New floodlights were installed in time for the 1980–81 season, but they failed during the first match against Southend United and the game had to be abandoned. The club struggled in the bottom half of the Fourth Division for the first half of the decade, however 16-year-old Aidy Mann became the club's youngest player. In 1984–85, the lowest ever league attendance was recorded at the County Ground where only 942 people turn up to watch the Cobblers lose 2–0 at home to Chester City; this was also the only ever league attendance under 1,000. In the same year, The club managed what seemed like a major coup when they appointed Tony Barton, who had won the European Cup with Aston Villa two years previously, as manager. Barton's only season in charge proved severely disappointing however, as the club were never outside the bottom two, and health problems forced Barton's resignation near the end of that season. Success was achieved under Barton's replacement, Graham Carr, who brought in several players from the non-league in addition to a number of quality league players to finish eighth in his first season in charge. The 1986–87 season saw Northampton win the Fourth Division championship, gaining a club record total of 99 points and scoring 103 goals, 29 of them to Richard Hill, who was transferred in the summer to Watford for a club record fee of £265,000. The club adjusted to life in Division Three quickly and just missed out on a play-off place despite finishing sixth. Important players such as Trevor Morley and Eddie McGoldrick were sold and the team fell back down to Division Four in the 1989–90 season.
The 1990s began badly, with the club relegated to the Fourth Division at the end of the 1989–90 season. The following season began well as the club looked on course to return to the Third Division at the first attempt. They were top of the table in February, but fell away and finished mid-table. Things then got even worse and the club went into administration in April 1992, with debts of around £1.6 million. Ten players were sacked and youth players were drafted in to make up the numbers; results did not improve. These events sparked the formation of the Northampton Town Supporters' Trust, which has a share holding in the club and a representative on the board of directors. This was the first such instance of a supporters' trust taking over a football club.
The club needed to win the final game of the 1992–93 season to avoid being relegated to the Conference. Over 2,500 made the trip to Shrewsbury Town and saw the Cobblers win 3–2, despite being 2–0 down at half-time. The 1993–94 season got worse for the Cobblers as they finished bottom of the Football League for the only time in the club's history. Relegation was only escaped due the Conference champions, Kidderminster Harriers, not meeting the necessary ground criteria. The club eventually began its move to Sixfields.
The Sixfields era
Northampton Town started a new era when they moved to Sixfields Stadium and there was a capacity crowd on 15 October 1994, when Barnet were the visitors in a 1–1 draw. Martin Aldridge, who later died in a car accident, was the first player to score at the new stadium. The change of ground did not change the club's fortunes and they finished 17th, despite being buoyed by Ian Atkins taking over as manager from John Barnwell halfway through the 1994–95 season. After two more seasons, in 1996–97, Atkins lead the Cobblers to Wembley for the first time in 100 years, where they beat Swansea City 1–0 in the play-off final in front of 46,804 of whom 32,000 were Northampton supporters. John Frain scored the winning goal from a twice-taken free kick deep into injury time, adding to the club's centenary celebrations. The 1997–98 season also saw another Wembley play-off appearance, this time in the Division Two play-off final, which was lost 1–0 to Grimsby Town in front of a then record 62,998 crowd. Over 40,000 of the crowd were Northampton supporters, which is still a record for the most supporters taken to Wembley by one team. Northampton were not able to progress from the previous year's success because of long-term injuries to 16 of their players during the 1998–99 season. The team was relegated to Division Three, despite being not losing in the last nine games of the season. However, there were some promising results such as a 2–1 aggregate win over West Ham United in the League Cup. The 1999–2000 season saw the club bounce back to Division Two, finishing in the third automatic promotion spot. Ian Atkins left the club in October following a poor start to the season; his assistant, Kevin Wilson and coach Kevan Broadhurst took joint charge for the rest of the month. Wilson, the former Chelsea player, was appointed manager at the start of November, going on to win two manager of the month awards.
The following season started promisingly, with players such as Marco Gabbiadini and Jamie Forrester pushing the Cobblers towards a play-off place before the club eventually finished in 18th place due to a large number of injuries in the second half of the season. Kevin Wilson was sacked in November 2001, to make way for his assistant Kevan Broadhurst, who steered the Cobblers from relegation to a remarkable survival with a game to spare after losing only one home game from mid-January. The next season was the worst since the early 1990s, both financially and on the pitch. Early on they were forced into a 'Save our Season' campaign to keep afloat until the end of the year. It was required after the collapse of ITV Digital and much publicised takeover attempts by John Fashanu and Giovanni Di Stefano had failed and left the club with huge debts. They were taken over by a consortium run by Andrew Ellis, who sacked Broadhurst in January 2003, when Northampton were struggling at the foot of the division. He was briefly replaced by former England player Terry Fenwick who was sacked after a winless spell of seven games. This was, at the time, the eighth-shortest managerial reign in English football history. Martin Wilkinson, the new manager lasted little longer, being dismissed in October 2003 in favour of former Scotland and Tottenham Hotspur defender Colin Calderwood. Calderwood led Northampton to the play-offs in his first season, where they were knocked out in the semi-finals by Mansfield Town after a penalty shoot-out. In the 2004–05 season, Northampton finished seventh, again in the play-offs, where they were defeated by Southend United. Following this, the manager made substantial changes to the squad, bringing in experienced players such as Ian Taylor and Eoin Jess, and they enjoyed a successful 2005–06 league season. On 29 April, the Cobblers clinched promotion to Football League One, with a 1–0 win at home to Chester City. On 30 May 2006, Northampton announced that Calderwood was leaving to join Nottingham Forest as their new manager, and he was replaced by John Gorman on 5 June. On 20 December, Gorman resigned due to "personal issues" with the side 18th in the table, with Ian Sampson and Jim Barron briefly taking care of first team affairs. He was replaced by former Southampton boss Stuart Gray on 2 January 2007. The Cobblers were relegated from league one on the final day of the 2008–09 season, after suffering a 3–0 defeat away at Leeds United and other results went against them.
Northampton caused an upset in the third round of the 2010–11 Football League Cup, knocking out Liverpool at Anfield. The game was drawn 2–2 after extra time, and the Cobblers beat the team 69 places above them 4–2 on penalties, the winning penalty being scored by Abdul Osman at the 'Kop End'.
Ian Sampson was sacked as manager on 2 March 2011 after a poor run of form saw the Cobblers fail to win in eight games and sit in a disappointing 16th position in League 2. Sampson’s last game in charge was a 2–3 defeat against Burton Albion, the manner of this defeat ultimately costing him his job. Sampson’s sacking brought to an end a 17-year association with Northampton, and his commitment to the club has guaranteed his status as a legend in fans' hearts.
David Cardoza moved quickly and Gary Johnson was unveiled as the new manager on 4 March 2011. The appointment was greeted by unprecedented approval, so much so that Johnson stated his decision to join the club was partly down to the support for his appointment of a club forum.
Somehow however things didn't go so well under Gary Johnson, the club slid further down the table in League 2 and only just avoided relegation at the end of the 2010–11 season.The beginning of the 2011–2012 season was no improvement for the Cobblers and the embarrassment was only further heightened after a loss to Luton Town on 12 November 2011 in the FA Cup first round. Gary Johnson left the club on 14 November 2011 by mutual consent.
In December 2011 Northampton appointed ex-Watford manager, Aidy Boothroyd, as their new manager. After drafting in players, such as Ben Harding, Luke Guttridge and Clarke Carlisle, Boothroyd managed to keep Northampton in the league and in the summer set about transforming the club into a club with promotion ambitions. He signed high-profile players such as Clive Pratt, Alex Nicholls, Chris Hackett and Joe Widdowson and made Sixfields a fortress in the opening months of the campaign. On 18 May 2013, Northampton reached the League 2 play-off final, losing 3–0 to Bradford City. After a poor start to the 2013–14 League Two season, Northampton found themselves at the foot of the table and as of 21 December they had only won four games. Boothroyd was subsequently sacked.
From the start of the 2013–14 season, Northampton shared their Sixfields Stadium with Coventry City with the West Midlands club going through a protracted dispute with the owners of their previous home, the Ricoh Arena in Coventry.
On 27 January 2014, David Cardoza appointed former Oxford United manager Chris Wilder as the new manager of the club on a three and half year deal.
In October 2015 HM Revenue and Customs issued the club with a winding-up petition over unpaid taxes. (See Sixfields Stadium)
In February 2016, Northampton Town broke their club record of eight successive wins by beating Wycombe Wanderers 1–0, extending the winning run to nine. The season was successful and resulted in promotion to League One on 9 April. A draw at Exeter combined with Oxford United's defeat at home to Luton Town meant that they clinched the League 2 championship a week later on 16 April. The Cobblers went on to play their first season in the third tier of English football since 2009.
Records and statistics
Tommy Fowler holds the record for Northampton Town appearances, having played 552 first-team matches between 1946 and 1961. Centre half and former captain Ian Sampson comes second, with 449 games. The record for a goalkeeper is held by Peter Gleasure, with 412 appearances.
Jack English is the club's top goalscorer with 143 goals in competitive matches between 1947 and 1959, having surpassed Teddy Bowen's total of 120. Bowen's record had stood since September 1931, when he overtook the total of 110 goals set by striker William Lockett in 1930.
The highest attendance at the County Ground of 24,523 was on 9 March 1965 in an important relegation battle in the First Division against Fulham. It is unlikely that this record will be broken unless redevelopment takes place at Sixfields. The record attendance at Sixfields is 7,798, for an EFL Cup match against Manchester United on 21 September 2016.
Current squadAs of 1 February 2017.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
PFA Team of the Year
The following have been included in the PFA Team of the Year whilst playing for Northampton Town:
The following were chosen by fans as the favourite club heroes in the BBC Sports Cult Heroes poll in 2006.
- Andy Woodman
- John Frain
- Dave Bowen
Board of directors and ownership
ManagersUpdated 13 May 2016.
Current management team
Below is a list of all permanent managers of Northampton Town since its foundation in 1897.
Northampton moved to the county ground in 1897, sharing it with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club from 1905. The main stand was situated alongside Abington Avenue and was a covered stand with seating to the rear and terracing to the front. The stand survived until 1985, but following the Bradford City stadium fire, it was deemed unsafe and demolished, leaving only the terracing. This was then replaced by a small temporary stand nicknamed the ' Meccano Stand ' by fans. The other two stands were at the ends with the Spion Cop, which only reached the goalposts, usually used for away supporters and the Hotel End for the home supporters. In 1965–66, the only time that Northampton Town were in the top flight of English football, the county ground saw its highest attendance 24,523 against Fulham on 23 April 1966. The ground also saw Northampton's lowest ever attendance in the Football League, a crowd of 942 for the 1984–85 match against Chester City. The last game to be played at the ground was a 1–0 defeat by Mansfield Town on Tuesday, 12 October 1994.
The club moved to Sixfields Stadium in 1994. It is a modern all-seater stadium with a capacity of 7,653 and award-winning disabled facilities. The stadium plan is simple with the west stand seating 4,000, opposite the smaller 1,000-capacity east stand known as the Alwyn Hargrave stand after the Ex-Borough Councillor who helped the stadium become reality. At either end are identical stands that are the same height as the east stand, the south stand usually for away supporters. (Against Chester City on 29 April 2006, the stand was split and supporters segregated to allow the maximum number of home supporters to witness the club's promotion to League One.) The north Stand is known as the Dave Bowen stand, after the manager that took them from the bottom to the top flight of English football.
Adjacent to the stadium joining onto the back of the East Stand with its own small stand is the training ground but its main purpose is for athletics for the local club Rugby & Northampton. It also holds Northampton schools athletics finals.