It’s been a long, long time since I’ve penned one of these but I think we’re all in need of a bit of a boost (no pun intended!) at the moment. I may be overselling this as the cure to all our woes but after Charles unearthed a spoof look ahead to calendar years of yonder from an old blog of mine earlier this year I thought I’d give it a go again.
So here goes…this is your comprehensive guide to…What won’t happen in 2022…
The Cobblers’ game at Swindon on New Year’s Day is postponed just before kick off as Sam Hoskins stubs his toe on the dressing room door. Swindon fans are apoplectic and try to invade the Cobblers changing rooms in anger. Thankfully, Ian Sampson is there to defend the tunnel and headers them all out of the way. Colin Calderwood is, of course, the last line of defence, and tackles a rough fan who happens to sneak past Sammo, booting them in the air. Guest of honour Eric Sabin – who played for both teams – is interviewed by Tim Oglethorpe in place of the match but the chat ends when Sabin slips and claims a penalty. Ogle shakes his head and walks away.
We finally get back on the pitch with a home game against Crawley Town and a long awaited Sixfields appearance from John Yems. Town win 6-0 thanks to a shock Benny Ashley-Seal hattrick and Yems is furious after the game, refusing to conduct interviews and punching Jon Brady in the face. Co commentator Pete Walton agrees with the referee that no contact was made.
A huge win over the atrocious Forest Green Rovers in mid-January catapults us to within a point of the Vegans before a draw at Chris Sutton United and a 4-1 win over Salford puts us top of the table going into February. Jordan Turnbull gets the Salford goal after best mate Hoskins returns from his stubbed toe and accidentally presents the ball to his best mate.
In the January transfer window, newly rich Newcastle United swoop for hattrick hero Benny Ashley-Seal, paying Town £3 million for his services. The deal comes too late for us to find a replacement, though.
A trip to Walsall begins the month and Ash Taylor lines up against Town for the first time since leaving. In a shocking moment, he’s clean through on goal when, dramatically, his penalty ball finally comes back to earth and clatters him to the floor. Ash claims a penalty and blames co commentator Tony Witter but nothing is given. Later on, Ash is sent off for pushing Ali Koiki and leaves to a jubilant backdrop of Cobblers fans waving and Tim Oglethorpe singing. The Cobblers are too distracted by the events and draw 0-0.
A home game with Newport also ends 0-0 and Town are suddenly stuttering as Port Vale beat us 2-0 and Colchester hold us to a 4-4 draw in a mad-cap game at Sixfields. We end the month by losing 2-0 at Rochdale and Jon Brady takes his squad on a team bonding trip to Abington Street.
A few 50p Lil rumours do the rounds on Twitter but Brady says that the experience was hugely rewarding. Jon Guthrie comes out of it with a new pair of ripped jeans from Next and Jonathan Maxted is overjoyed by finding a rare Wurzels record in a charity shop. Sammo regales the squad with tales of Charlie the Chimp, who used to swing in the window of Gordon Scott Shoes. Aaron McGowan immediately starts a campaign to get Charlie back.
The Cobblers are right back into form at the start of March as a Guthrie header breaks the net in a 1-0 home win over Tranmere at Sixfields. Meanwhile, the club celebrates its 125th birthday in style with a parade of ex-players at Sixfields. Alastair Slowe appears from nowhere to join the parade, Yasser Kasim is seen staring from the back of the line and Richard Hope is included to the surprise of everyone apart from Charles.
We then make the rearranged trip to Swindon in midweek. A hot-blooded affair ends 3-3 with the Cobblers coming from three down to earn a point. Hoskins is the hero after netting a penalty, a header and, ironically, a toe poke.
Carlisle United are brushed aside at Brunton Park 4-0 and we’re lifted back into top three contention. A trip to Stevenage ends in a 1-0 victory thanks to Chris Lines scoring an own goal from 40 yards.
Bristol Rovers are next in town and somehow Joey Barton is still in charge despite charges of stealing penny sweets from Tesco, riding a goat through the middle of Bristol, throwing a Haribo at a fan and voting for the Tories. The Cobblers pounce on the unease by winning 3-0 at Sixfields, highlighted by a Nicke Kabamba overhead kick.
The final game in March sees us take on Hartlepool United and an injury to first choice keeper Ben Killip means that Jonathan Mitchell is back between the sticks for the visitors. Town win 9-0 in Sixfields’ biggest ever victory.
Elsewhere, Justin Lee Collins tracks down the entire line up of Warehouse to record a special version of Sixfields Boys for the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Wembley 1997 win. John Frain signs up at the last minute to provide backing vocals.
We start the crucial month of April with a trip to Mansfield and a controversial 1-0 win has us back in the top three. The flash point comes in the 78th minute as John-Joe O’Toole heads the ball into his own net before getting up and winking at the Cobblers away fans, who sing his name all the way home.
A home draw with Bradford is followed by a trip to Oldham, who have made the surprising move to re-appoint Keith Curle in a bid to keep them up. Town soak up the direct balls and catch them out on the counter with Hoskins curling one home from 30 yards for a huge Good Friday win. Curle is sacked the next day.
A few days later, Town win 2-0 at home against Harrogate Town to leave them level on points with the atrocious league leaders Forest Green.
A trip to Leyton Orient brings back happy memories from 2015/16 and, incredibly, we win 4-0 again with Ali Koiki scoring his first goal for the club and celebrating in the stands with Jefe.
We need just a point in our final home game of the season with Exeter to win promotion and get it with an injury time goal from former Exeter man Jonathan Maxted, who came off the bench when Liam Roberts was sent off earlier in the game. Maxted leaps like a Matt Salmons to head in the goal that takes us back to League One from a Mitch Pinnock corner.
It’s party time on the final day at Barrow but there’s still something to play for. Forest Green need to match our result to win the League Two title but a goal from Mansfield’s John-Joe O’Toole has them chewing nervously on their Veggie Straws, waiting on news from Barrow.
The Cobblers are being held 0-0 until the final five minutes when Kion Etete races through on goal. The away end holds their breath, Tim Oglethorpe’s bottom reaches a squeaking point of no return and Terry Angus is off his seat as Etete rounds the keeper and loops a shot high into the net! The Cobblers hold on and the claret faithful invade the pitch in delight as we claim another League Two title.
Kelvin Thomas is so excited that he promises, on a gin fuelled Facebook Live session with the podcast, to use the £3 million from the sale of Benny Ashley-Seal to add a water park to the East Stand Plans and confirms that the corridor can indeed be named the Dean Peer corridor. Neil falls off his chair in delight and Charles douses himself in gin. A new era has begun…
The work on the East Stand is finally given the green light as NBC and the club finally get together and agree that the water park idea is the best thing since a sliced Ashley Corker clearance.
The summer sees the town buzzing as Jon Brady breaks from tradition and actually stays at the club. Colin Calderwood, however, has his head turned and is appointed the new Nottingham Forest assistant manager. The Cobblers’ hierarchy is devastated but start looking for a new assistant immediately. An eagle-eyed Town fan catches a glimpse of James Whiting and Kelvin Thomas boarding a flight to Sweden…
Meanwhile, Alan Carr joins father Graham on the transfer committee and, surprisingly, brings some fresh ideas to the table. One such suggestion brings in new record signing Ross Stewart from Sunderland after the front man shot his side into the Championship in May. Alan later reveals that he was trying to sign Rod Stewart but that he hopes it all works out.
Elsewhere, Bayo Akinfenwa is drafted in as an advisor to the club after hanging up his boots in the summer and Sean Parrish is offered a “once in a while” contract to come in for occasional coaching roles.
Pre-season begins with the traditional romp over Sileby as the Cobblers win 16-0 at Fernie Fields. Malcolm Christie is a surprise trialist but doesn’t impress and is hauled off after 5 minutes.
The rumour mill is in full effect as the transfer committee works hard to seal deals for Perry Ng, a permanent move for Kion Etete and a surprise return for John-Joe O’Toole.
Pre-season continues with wins over Brackley, Havant and Waterlooville and Bristol Manor Farm before a massive home friendly with Liverpool. Abdul Osman is brought in on commentary and Town produce a magnificent performance to win 3-2. After the game, Jurgen Klopp complains about the amount of pre-season friendlies and the camera catches Ali Koiki mocking him in the background.
The League One fixtures computer throws up a mouth-watering trip to relegated Peterborough United on the opening day. The game is poised at 1-1 until the 83rd minute when Fraser Horsfall appears from out of nowhere to finish from a Postman Pinnock cross. WHAT WAS HE DOING UP THERE?!
Town go on to record three wins from the opening four games of the season and see off Norwich City in the First Round of the newly named Dominoes League Cup.
The biggest news of the month, though, is the breaking of the ground in the rebuilding and remodelling of the East Stand. Jeema is selected as the person to officially open the stand once it’s completed and Neil is overjoyed to hear that the work on the water park will also begin in September.
Chaos hits Sixfields in September as a dodgy workman leaves the tap on and the early stages of the water park building ends in disaster. The East Stand is flooded and the Chronicle and Echo front page leads with a photo of Griff the Griffin’s outfit floating towards the Nene. A serious looking Kelvin Thomas addresses the issue and puts the sole blame on Neil. Neil runs into hiding and takes up a new name of Nelé, relocating to Brazil.
All home games are postponed in September and the bad news hits the squad as well as we lose our three away games.
Once the water has been mopped up, the East Stand building grinds to a halt. The news is not good – it will take up to five years to fully fix this situation.
Our first home game back after Watergate is a clash with Crewe Alexandra, who incredibly stayed up the season before. Dave Artell is concerned about the pitch damage done by the East Stand flood and refuses to let his team play. Crewe are fined and the Cobblers earn a much needed three points by default.
A trip to Plymouth is up next and Matt Salmons is spotted in the away end by the Plymouth massive, who proceed to throw cups of Bovril at him. This causes a stoppage to the game and during the 17 minutes of injury time, John-Joe O’Toole smashes in a winner, running up to Salmons in the stand to celebrate. The Cobblers’ supporters coach is then given a police escort out of Devon.
Michael Appleton’s Lincoln City visit Sixfields next and the Cobblers win again. 1-0 down going into the final five minutes, goals from Jack Sowerby and Kion Etete turn things around. Appleton speaks to the media after the game and laments the fact that his side are the best team in the world and is confused at how they could ever lose.
Defeats at Portsmouth and Charlton keep us in mid-table at the end of the month but the biggest news comes off the pitch as Kelvin Thomas and James Whiting finally get their man. After months of talks, Sven Goran Eriksson is appointed as Jon Brady’s assistant manager. He celebrates by going on a cheeky pub crawl along Welly Road. Sven fever is in the air!
Sven has an immediate impact at the Cobblers as we lose three on the bounce, including an embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of Egham Town. There’s clear tension on the touchline as Sven tries to get involved in game management but Brady is seen shoving him back towards the bench. Sven is not impressed and takes a walk down the tunnel during a home game with Accrington Stanley.
Amazon Prime pick up on the furore and pitch a new “All or Nothing” series based at the Cobblers. They start filming shortly after with Sven as the main protagonist and the cameras going behind the scenes at Sixfields.
The big episode that everyone is talking about comes during an away game at Sheffield Wednesday as Sven protests about Brady by taking a seat with the away fans instead of on the bench. The Town fans, loyal to the main man, turn their backs on the Swede and chant Brady’s name as the Cobblers win 1-0. Brady comes up to the away fans at the end of the game for his traditional fist in the air celebrations before sticking two fingers up at Sven.
Sven hands in his resignation a day later and the “All or Nothing” series is binned.
Meanwhile, the World Cup in Qatar sees a new “It’s All World Cup to Me” podcast being born but it’s banned within three episodes. England reach the final but then stick two fingers up to the world by quitting the tournament in protest, meaning fellow finalists Qatar are handed the trophy in not-at-all suspicious circumstances.
Kelvin Thomas raises the issue with the Amazon big wigs that we have a contract with them to produce some content and, so, a new reality show is born – Assistant Manager Idol. The Premise of the show is to find the next big Assistant Manager with the winner taking their place as Jon Brady’s assistant in the New Year.
Hopefuls from across the country convene at the Derngate for the auditions with young hopefuls including “Mad Dog” Mike Fuller, a duo known only as “Gareth and Valery” and an individual who suspiciously called himself “Seal Nedgerton-Bott.” The rigorous audition process includes a game of “Name That Bench,” a “Pin the nose on the Northampton Clown” competition and simple question of “Would you start Bayo at Wembley?”
The winner is the controversial Nedgerton-Bott who stuns the world (ok, the county) by seeing off the rest of the competition.
On the pitch, the Cobblers beat MK in mid-December with a last-minute winner being met by a returning plastic chair being thrown around the West Stand. On Boxing Day, we move into the playoff places with a 2-0 away win at Oxford United. The final game of the calendar year is postponed due to a measles outbreak in the Town squad.
Finally, there’s abundant joy in one Scottish household as David Sneddon bags the 2022 Christmas Number One with a delightful cover of “Smack my bitch up.”