Snow stopping Cobblers

Friday 25th January 2013 8:37

Boothroyd: feeling the cold

Boothroyd: feeling the cold

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Northampton FanZoner Tom Reed is beginning to think Northampton will never postpone a game.

Groundsmen are made of sterner stuff in Northampton

In the bleak mid-winter, frosty wind made moan. Earth stood hard as iron, water like a stone. Snow had fallen snow on snow...

And so the Cobblers decided to have a game of football. Yes, with all but two matches of the League 2 programme lost to the January blizzards the super-human Sixfields ground staff somehow made the pitch playable for the visit of Burton Albion. In December, when the U.K was lashed with extreme rains, Head Groundsman Paul Knowles had managed to create a viable surface and allowed the Cobblers to complete the only fixture of a saturated Saturday.

So, Mr Knowles wasn't going to be put off by the mere inconvenience of a level three cold weather alert and an eleven inch accumulated flurry. Instead, the club put out an appeal for fans to congregate at 8am on the day of the Burton match and clear snow from the pitch and stadium surrounds. Amazingly sixty hardy souls pulled themselves from their warm beds to volunteer and do the donkey work that other League 2 clubs had deemed not worth the effort.

There were even rumours that the club had hired a snow plough to clear the backlog which brought to mind the Simpsons episode where Homer starts a snow plough business under the name "Mr Plow".

Unfortunately, this writer was unavailable to donate his time being asleep and only awoke at 11am to find the startling news that the game was on. Seemingly going along with the "if you stage it they will come" approach from the movie "Field Of Dreams", Mr Plow Paul Knowles had done his bit and it was now down to the fans to turn up.

I made my way via bus and with the dirty, sludged up windows could not make out anything of the trip to the ground. God knows if people had dragged themselves from under their duvets or not. On arrival, scores of families with kids were sledging down the steep Sixfields hill, quite oblivious to the fact that there was a game on.

Surely this would be the lowest attendance ever at Sixfields? With the Met Office advising people to only make journeys where necessary and the temperature dipping below freezing, who in their right mind would come to sit outside and risk frostbite?

But in a wintry miracle the Burton fans pulled up in their coach, wrapped up in their yellow and black scarves looking like bees that had made a break from their hive and regretted the decision. They buzzed off to the warmth of the Sixfields Tavern.


In the ticket booths, the usually chipper sales staff shivered and had no answer to the question "why did they have to play the game?" half in jest but also in realisation that the game might take on a Bear Grylls battle against hypothermia.

Somehow, over four thousand people trudged through the snow and ice to this game. You get the feeling that in the event of the Sun burning out and the coming of a new ice age. Paul Knowles would be there pawing at the snow while a band of hard-core Cobblers fans drove their huskies down a frozen Upton Way.

As the game kicked off the whole crowd hopped from foot to foot exhibiting a primeval reaction to the cold. Of course, the Football League had sent the usual over-diligent prats to officiate with the referee's assistant taking an age to check the goal nets and getting a damn good snowballing from the fans in the North Stand.

The referee did nothing to address the blatant time wasting of the Albion goalkeeper whose name escapes me due to brain freeze. Worse still, the man in black Mr Bond, broke cover from being 007 to annoy the crowd with attention seeking lectures for minor offences, which, although full of hot air, did nothing to counter the wind chill factor.

I'm no expert on the effects of sub-zero temperatures on the brain but the freezing conditions seemed to increase the Cobblers' fans disdain for every decision the officials made.

Offside- boo, foul- boo, hand ball-boo, corner-boo life-boo.

Only the half time whistle brought some respite with people huddling in the toilets and warming their numb digits under hand dryers and bemoaning the luke warm £2.00 cups of tea.

Luckily for the Cobblers, after the restart the Brewers didn't look interested in winning the match and played only one up front. This despite Northampton taking a whooping from a very game Chesterfield the week before. Maybe the Burton players feared a worsening of the conditions and were thinking about ideal spots for a snow trench shelter?

They needn't have worried for Paul Knowles was on the phone to the Canadian Air Force arranging for the loan of a Hornet fighter jet to blow snow off the pitch in time for the visit of Rochdale.

Fortunately for fans of a claret and white persuasion, a little colour was brought back to the cheeks with Adebayo Akinfenwa's headed goal on sixty-nine minutes. Bayo couldn't miss really with the hypothermic Burton keeper going AWOL having crawled to the North Stand tea bar in order to buy a restorative hot drink. Reports state that said keeper was found frozen solid after only having £1.20 in his shorts and falling well short of the price of a cup of tea.

Not that this bothered anyone connected to the Cobblers. The game had been completed, bringing much needed cash through the tills and Sixfields resounded with the padded beat of gloved applause for three points. Meanwhile the ground staff performed a ritual snow dance in their underpants, having beaten the elements.

Elsewhere, the Cobblers squad took shelter in an Akinfenwa bear hug and the home fans attached snow shoes, turned left at KFC and plodded off into the wilderness.

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