Candyfloss or Cobblers?

Wednesday 26th September 2012 21:13

Akinfenwa: has thighs like a buffalo

Akinfenwa: has thighs like a buffalo

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FanZoner Tom Reed weighs up the attractions of watching Northampton or the local funfair.

None of the fun of the fair at Sixfields

The people of Northampton weren't stuck for things to do on Saturday with the Cobblers and Saints at home and a funfair operating out of Sixfields' North Stand car park. But the leisure choices offered by the Las Vegas of the East Midlands weren't enough for one young fan who screamed at his father "I want to go back on the bumper cars" as he was dragged towards the Northampton stadium.

Alas, the dodgems would have been a far more entertaining option than the Cobblers v Chesterfield match and I can imagine the lad's dad squirming in his seat as the harsh realities of indoctrinating one's offspring into the ways of the Cobblers hit home.

In 1994 there was a memorable on pitch riot between fans of Northampton and Chesterfield but this time, the misdemeanours of fans could not even be relied upon to spark some life into the game. Most sat in silence as the scrawny September sun shone with empty promise and the funfair waltzers built up a spin in the distance.

Having watched League 2 football for too long, I know that most teams in the basement divisions are exactly the same. The better ones have one, maybe two half-decent strikers and that's usually enough to power a push for promotion.

Unfortunately for the Spireites, although their passing was far from crooked, their forward line, shorn of Marc Richards and over reliant on an ageing Jack Lester proved toothless. Lester played against Northampton in the 1998 play-off final which may explain his creaking gait.

At the other end, Cobblers' buffalo-thighed Adebayo Akinfenwa, returned to the Northampton line up after a terrifying two-game spell on the bench and while his hold-up play was typically astute, his exertions counted for little. Bayo's forwards runs are so sapping in energy that it is distressing to see his team mates waste them with lax play.

By half time, with the game scoreless, Akinfenwa sweated like he'd been watching Shakespeare. His strike partner Alex Nicholls, perhaps being consumed by a rebalancing of the universe after a storming five goals in his first five games, seemingly lacked the will to make penetrating runs and instead stuck close to his opponents like a child eying seats in musical chairs.


Even Drew Talbot, Chesterfield's whippet winger (who has made running himself into the ground into a profession) scratched his head as to why his exertions were coming to nothing. But, then again, with the pace of the game sub-plod he could safely save his efforts for battles to come. Aidy Boothroyd's men have taken to cryogenic ice chambers after recent games and Cobblers fans wondered if they had thawed out in time for this one.

The second half carried on in the same heavy-legged manner of the first. Why did the players need to stop for water breaks every five minutes when the temperature was roughly twelve degrees? Why did the Chesterfield players fall into the foetal position whenever they bumped into Akinfenwa and why did the Spireites fans sing that their side "was by far the greatest team the world has ever seen?"

Unless the marker for being by some way the greatest soccer side to grace the earth is drawing nil all with Northampton Town, in which case Chesterfield have some competition from Rochdale, Brackley and Newport Pagnell reserves.

As the game limped to its conclusion and the Northampton fans headed for the exit, the Cobblers won a last gasp free kick just outside the Spireites' box. For a second, I feared a crush as the departing home fans rushed back in to greet a winning goal. In reality, the majority didn't even hear the official blow for the free kick, they were away into the low sunshine, tutting in that resigned Northamptonian way, ready to sit in the traffic jams of the town with everything and nothing to do.

At the funfair, a father bribed his son with endless dodgem rides to mask the tears of a child threatening to tell mummy about being forced to watch the Cobblers. Don't cry laddy, I know your pain.

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