, if you will) club in Northampton
, in the east Midlands
. Due to the town's shoe-making tradition the club is nicknamed the Cobblers
, opening the door for over a century of hilarious gags and headlines along the lines of "what a load of cobblers". Helpfully, this is also the name of the club's unofficial fanzine
Ground: Sixfields Stadium (capacity 7653, average attendance 5000)
Manager: Martin Wilkinson
Local rivals: Peterborough United, Rushden & Diamonds
To be honest, Northampton is one of English football's more anonymous sides. They have just been relegated to the third (and bottom) division of the Football League, after two dismals seasons in the second.
In recent years they have actually played in two Wembley play-off finals, bringing crowds of around 40,000 to London, but most of these people have since returned to the woodwork, and for the average league game they struggle to get a turnout of 6,000.
On being formed in 1897 they gained election to the Football League remarkably quickly, but have spent most of their subsequent existence as a middling-at-best (awful at worst) lower division side. Their best run occured during the mid-1960s, when they reached the old First Division with breathtaking speed, and then dropped all the way back to the old Fourth just as quickly.
In the early 1990s they were in acute financial trouble and were almost relegated from professional football, becoming something of a national joke in the process. They recovered (the joke club these days is Carlisle), and have spent the subsequent years moving back and forth between the Second and Third Divisions, the bottom two (of four) in English professional football.
In early 2002, it became known that the directors would be prepared sell their stakes to outside interests if it was to the club's benefit - like most Football League clubs, Northampton's finances are far from secure. At first the prime candidate was the celebrity and former footballer John Fashanu, but he dropped out and the takeover then seemed set to be carried out by the lawyer Giovanni di Stefano, a man rumoured to have a rather dubious financial past, and who was distrusted by many supporters. In August 2002 he was about to effect a takeover for £600,000, receiving 60% of the club's shares, when he suddenly lowered his offer to £50,000 for 25% and was turned down. Like Fashanu before him he left the proceedings, and the club was eventually taken over by a less high-profile group of bidders.
In January 2003, after a run of poor results (five defeats in seven league games, including 4-0 and 5-0), manager Kevan Broadhurst was sacked. His replacement, former England international and Portsmouth manager Terry Fenwick, lasted just seven games; the club is currently managed by Martin Wilkinson. Survival in the Second Division proved impossible.
1963: Champions, old Third Division
1987: Champions, old Fourth Division
1997: Play-off winners, new Third Division
Current players of note:
Paul Trollope: Welsh international midfielder, the club's only current capped player.
Marco Gabbiadini: Experienced striker with over 200 career goals, top scorer in 2002-03.
Derek Asamoah: Exciting and popular Ghanaian forward, perhaps the club's most talented player.
Players of note if you're not a Northampton fan:
No such luck.