Northampton Town – the Ned Flanders of the Football League?

by Mike Moore

Friday, June 17th, 2011

Will Gary Johnson's Northampton Town be swelled by an influx of new fans come next season?

How willing would you be to switch your allegiance to another team – one based 15 miles away?

Most fans would be recoiling in horror at this prospect, but for one team’s supporters, it could be the future. I wrote last week about the crisis affecting every football fan’s favourite-monikered team, Rushden and Diamonds, as they were expelled from the Conference and now face the epic task of reclaiming their former status from the Zamaretto League. But it seems that, for their season-ticket holding fans at least, they could still be in with a chance of watching league football next season.

This is due to the incredible news today that near neighbours Northampton Town have offered Rushden season-ticket holders the opportunity to exchange their season tickets for a Northampton season ticket with no extra cost. The club are also offering a free return bus to Sixfields collecting from the Diamonds heartlands of Wellingborough, Rushden and Irthlingborough for the first 3 home league games of the season, and also staged a bucket collection at the recent England C game at Sixfields to raise money to try and help their local neighbours.

Such neighbourly love is extremely rare in football these days – witness the enmity shown by Aston Villa fans to Alex McLeish this week – and should be applauded. The statement released by Cobblers chairman David Cardoza states that this is, ‘a genuine offer to those supporters who will have a void in their weekends this coming season to allow them to come and watch League football at their own prices’.

Interestingly, according to the Northampton website, season tickets at Sixfields cost only £50 more than their Nene Park equivalent. It remains to be seen as well whether the Cobblers, who flirted with relegation last season before the appointment of Gary Johnson, who has now set about rebuilding the team, are an attractive proposition for former Diamonds fans.

Most of us, when we were younger, probably supported more than one team – often hankering after a Manchester United, Liverpool, or Arsenal, the so-called ‘glory supporters’, whilst also rooting for our local team, only for the latter to eventually win out. But surely any true fan could not accept such a possibility. AFC Wimbledon fans have proved a golden example to many, sticking with their club through the incredible turmoil they suffered, and finally being rewarded last month when their team regained their league status. If Rushden do survive the coming months, their fans will surely stick with them.

So it seems that this offer only makes sense though if Rushden fail in their bid to be accepted into the Zamaretto League and thus cease to exist. The club gained an extension for their debts last week and are battling to stay afloat, but with the possibility of no team to follow in the near future, the fans may have to do the unthinkable and support another team. As Cardoza said, however, the offer may just prove tempting to those fans who might have a void in their weekend schedules come August.

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  • Mike Moore

    P.S. No offence meant to any NTFC fans with regards to the Ned Flanders link – he ‘s just the paragon of neighbourly kindness!

  • Adam

    Hi-Diddily-Ho Football Fans!

    It seems an honest gesture from David Cardoza, and it will help Northampton Town out as well.

    Rushden will probably reform in the Zamaretto D1 Central (moving an existing side to the D1 South & West where there is a vacancy after the resignation of Almondsbury Town FC) but what I have heard is that Kettering want to move into Nene Park and merge with Rushden. I’m not sure that either Kettering or Rushden fans will appreciate a ‘Northampton County’ type team, but with Kettering facing ground problems of their own it could well be inevitable.

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