Sunday, 18 December 2011

Northampton Town - Sixfields Stadium


Northampton Town FC
Sixfields Stadium
Northampton
NN5 5QA

01604 683700






Ground Number: 34
Saturday 7th November 1998
Northampton Town 1-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2




TEN FACTS ABOUT NORTHAMPTON TOWN

1:  The club was formed in 1897 and is nicknamed 'The Cobblers' - owing to the town's history in shoemaking.

2:  From their formation until 1994, the club played at the County Ground, sharing with the local cricket club. It was a strange venue and on that I wish I'd visited, however, I was too young. When it closed, it had a tiny seated stand holding just 350 but large amounts of terracing with a capacity of 9,500. They moved to Sixfields in 1994.

3:  The club spent the first couple of years playing friendlies before joining the Midland League for a couple of seasons at the turn of the 20th century with two third-place finishes. They moved on to the Southern League, winning the title in 1909.

4:  Following the expansion of the Football League, Northampton Town joined Division 3 South in 1920. They've remained a league team ever since, though they remained in the bottom tier until 1961. A kamikaze 1960s saw the club shoot up the leagues, reaching the top tier for a single season in 1965-66. They finished second-bottom and were within a few points of staying up. That remains their best ever season, though they did tumble back down to the bottom-tier by the end of the decade. They came close to being relegated out of the Football League in 1994, however, Conference champions Kidderminster Harriers' ground was deemed unsuitable for league football.

5:  In the FA Cup, Northampton Town's record progress is to the 5th Round. They last reached that stage in 1970, losing 8-2 at home to Manchester United. The game is famous for maverick George Best scoring six goals in the game, despite a heavy drinking session the night before the game. In recent years their record has been less than stellar with them losing 1-0 at non-league Stourbridge in 2016.

6:  The best run in the League Cup has been the Quarter Final, the club losing to Plymouth Argyle in 1965 and at home to West Brom two years later.

7:  Over thirty-five players have played for both Wycombe Wanderers and Northampton Town. The most notable from Wycombe's point of view is our record appearance holder Steve Brown, Mickey Bell, Scott McGleish and Frank Fielding.

8:  Record appearance holder for the Cobblers is Tommy Fowler who made 552 times between 1946 and 1961. Top scorer is Jack English with 143 goals between 1947 and 1959.

9  Famous Northampton Town fans include basketball star, Shaquille O'Neill. Graham Carr, father of comedian Alan Carr managed the club between 1985 and 1990.

10: The town of Northampton is famous for shoemaking and has a population of 212,000. Famous people from the town include comedian Alan Carr, Blue Peter presenter Peter Purves and 'Steps' singer Faye Tozer.

  


MY VISITS

The first time I went to Northampton's Sixfields Stadium, we didn't actually get in the ground until near the end of the game but watched most of the game from the hill behind the ground. The reason was not extreme money-saving, instead, it was the fact that the clutch cable on my Dad's car broke and as a consequence all the gates were closed when we got there, 20 minutes after kick-off. That game ended in a 1-1 draw, with defender Nicky Mohan got our goal with a shot from the edge of the area.

I'd have to wait another four years for my next visit, but things didn't really go much better this time. The season had started well under Lawrie Sanchez and mid-February saw us make it into the playoff places following a win at Bournemouth. Sadly, we were thumped 4-1 at home to Blackpool in the next game and the season, and indeed Sanchez's time at Wycombe never really recovered from there. A record of two wins in eleven games saw us head into the game in 12th place. but even so, we dominated and were 1-0 ahead at the break thanks to a Gavin Holligan goal. It all looked set for a rare moment of joy, but we collapsed in the second half after sitting far too deep. Long-haired midfielder Chris Hargreaves was brilliant that day and he sparked the comeback on 51 minutes, following up with a header after Marco Gabbiadini's shot hit the bar. Another goal from Hargreaves, plus further strikes from Jamie Forrester and Chris Carruthers (the latter who would have an infamous few days spell with us without playing a game) made it a poor afternoon for the travelling Chairboys.



Finally, we got a win at Northampton and what a victory it was. January 2003 had seen a period of better form but despite being in Division 2, both sides were out of the FA Cup and played a league game on Third Round weekend. Wycombe were 2-0 up at the break, thanks to goals from Jonny Dixon and Michael Simpson. Dixon went off injured but it was winger Stuart Roberts who had replaced him who grabbed the headlines with a second-half hat trick. I remember a couple of incidents - the Northampton keeper Chris Thompson thinking that our 'Thommo' chants were for him when in fact they were for our central defender Andy Thomson. Also, the Northampton tannoy men blasting out 'Tragedy' by Steps as the after match tune.




My next three visits ended in uneventful draws, though there was a wonderful moment of fan unity on our 2010 visit which ended in a 1-1 draw thanks to goals from Andy Sandell and Kevin Thornton. All four sides of the ground rose to chant 'The referee's a wanker' in unison after the man in the middle managed to upset both sets of fans. I made one further visit in 2015. Wycombe had enjoyed an eventful season the year before, only staying up on the final day of what was a terrible season. This season was completely different though and we went into the final day with a chance of automatic promotion. Though we won 3-2 in a dramatic game, other results went against us and we were consigned to the playoffs, ultimately losing in the final at Wembley to Southend United. You can see the story of the afternoon in my video below. For whatever reason, I didn't do a blog at the time, so this is being typed in January 2020, nearly five years after the event, whilst also updating details about my previous entries.



THE GROUND

SIXFIELDS has a capacity of just under 7,800. The only stand that has changed at all since they moved in sometime in 1994 is the East Stand which is to the right-hand side as you look from the away end. This is now a half-built 1,900 capacity stand, it's unfinished nature thanks to financial issues. It replaced a stand of a similar size in the first half of the 2010s and was meant to have executive boxes and the like. Behind both goals are similar stands, holding 800 each, one of which is given to away fans. Legroom is pretty tight from what I remember, but views are good. The one remaining stand dwarfs the rest of the ground with over 4,000 capacity and houses the majority of the Northampton vocal support.


The food in the ground is the usual bland and overpriced fare. Around the ground is Pizza Hut, McDonald's, KFC and TGI Fridays food-wise, plus a couple of pubs - The Sixfields Tavern (home fans only) and The Walter Tull. There's also a bar at the ground called Carr's Bar and this allows away fans in apparently. If you are coming from the town, there are plenty of good pubs including the Merrie England which does real ales, real ciders and food. There's a shop and a programme stall at the ground and overall the friendly home fans make the ground a decent visit, despite it being a long way from the town centre.     

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