25 years on from Northampton Town’s first visit to Wembley Stadium – and our first win there – in the Division 3 Play Off Final, It’s All Cobblers To Me speaks to some of the legends of that era.
This time we’re speaking to the man who won the game for The Cobblers. It’s the one and only John Frain.
So sit back and reminisce with one of our heroes ahead of the Wembley Anniversary event that we’re hosting on May 20th. Click here for ticket details.
Cobblers legend. Need we say more?! Born in Yardley, Frain played for just 3 clubs during his football career, mostly at left back: Birmingham City, Northampton Town and Moor Green. Frain’s biggest moment came in the 93rd minute of the 1997 Division 3 Play Off Final, where he scored the only goal of the game to send 32,000 Cobblers fans into raptures.
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Speaker 1 (00:10):
Good afternoon and welcome to Wembley. Grayson is clear. He’s got Parrish with him and it’s hooked away by Edwards. Dean Peer is on for Northampton town as a replacement for David Rennie. Hunter poised to take yet another long throw. Sampson’s forward. Warburton’s in there. Lee. He’s won a free kick, right in front of the penalty area. Frain. Charged down by Coates. Frain again. And he’s done it!, What a marvelous goal from John Frain!
Charles Commins (00:47):
Hello and welcome to It’s All Cobblers to Me. I’m Charles Commins, and this is another of our special episodes dedicated to the 25th anniversary of Wembley 97. Joining me for today’s episode is a man who needs no introduction to Cobblers fans of all ages. I would suggest his name is written into folklore. Thanks to one very special moment in the 93rd minute of the very match we are celebrating 25 years of. So let me welcome the one and only John Frain to It’s All Cobblers To Me
John Frain (01:20):
Evening Charles, pleasure to be here.
Charles Commins (01:22):
It’s great having you on John. Thanks so much. Wwe’ll get to that magical moment at Wembley as quickly as we can, but first off, I just wanted to take you back to your, I suppose, to the beginnings of your career. So starting out at Birmingham City, where of course you spent just over 10 years, tell me about the start of your career, John. How did you go about becoming a professional footballer?
John Frain (01:50):
Yeah. I, played football for the various teams like you did back in those days, school team, your Sunday team, uh, you did district team, um, and if you’re good enough, you got to county, uh, and then lots of, you know, if, if you’re doing well, clubs come and watch you from the age of 12, 13, 14. Um, I was fortunate enough to have a few clubs come to watch and invite me for trials Birmingham, uh, Aston Villa and Leicester City when I was about 13, 14, but Birmingham, um, sort of bent over backwards to accomodate me and then really made an effort and made you feel that they really want you to be part of their setup. And it was a bit of a no brainer for, for myself. So I signed schoollboy forms when I was 14 at Birmingham, uh, left school. And a month later, you, you start your apprenticeship.
John Frain (02:38):
Ron Saunders was my first manager. I had 18 months in the youth team, made my debut when I was 17, in the old first division. And that was against Newcastle. Peter Beasley, Paul Gascoigne, one of the best memories I have from my playing days, we got absolutely hammered 4-1. Peter Beardsley was just on a different planet over the two, three next coming seasons, sort of cement myself in the first team. I, I had 11 fantastic years at Birmingham, you know, not all great cuz the club’s in a bit of a situation at the moment. And um, back when I first started out, it was in a similar vein really, you know, it was a, a real struggle in the early days, the club struggled the owner left and there’s a lack of resource a lack of investment in the club. So just some dark days, it’s not until you, you finished really, you look back over your, those periods of your career, where you have to take things as a, as a whole and not little isolated moments where, you know, things didn’t go so well. So, but now I was very fortunate to play for that club.
Charles Commins (03:35):
You won the association members cup in 90/91 and then the following season, you got promoted outta division three. So that’s 91/ 92. So I’m presuming that that would be the equivalent now of league one.
John Frain (03:50):
That’s right. Yeah. Yeah. 91. Um, Lou Macari was, we had a big turnover of managers in the three, four years before. So, so Lou Macari, uh, came, I think in the October, November of that season, maybe a bit, a little bit later and we had a good run to the Leyland Daf Cup final, absolutely fantastic game. We beat Tranmere 3-2 uh, John Gayle scored two, two goals to the best goals you’ll see at Wembley, um, Ian Clarkson playing that game as well. Dean Peer, uh, so lots of old Cobblerss connections and in the following season, Terry Cooper took over in the summer and we, we had a really good 12 months, really good set of lads. We managed to get promotion back to division one. What, like you said, the equivalency championship now,
Charles Commins (04:30):
Would you say that that was kind of your best period of time at Birmingham?
John Frain (04:34):
Definitely. Yeah. I think from 91 to 94, 95 played, the best foot in my career, really. And as a whole, you know, we enjoyed a bit success cuz you know, the years before weren’t great. One of, so debut the old division one, which again, commitment the apprenticeship now and we sort of slid down the leagues and struggling to avoid was inion fights most season, you know, when you do get those days do come around, you really do learn to appreciate them. Cause the after you and far,
Charles Commins (05:03):
So when, when you signed for the Cobbs, I mean, I mean there was that little bit of time at, at Birmingham city. I think, I believe you, you were quoted and this might be, have been right after actually the final whistle at Wembley where you were quoted to say it’s not bad. Considering 12 months ago, I was roting in the reserves at BI. How would did that spell towards the end of your, your time at Birmingham city? What was that transition like? That, that period of obviously not being in the team that often, and then looking away before eventually signing for the Cobbs
John Frain (05:36):
Barry fry was managed to think towards 95, 96 and we had a real disappointing end of the season. Um, and that season, it was also my testimonial. So we had a testimonial game, which sort of culminated the game against SA Villa. We finished a season poorly and it ended up with Barry the SAC. And in that, that close season, I was outta contract sort of spoken to Barry about contracting. He was talking about two year, two year deal. I was in limbo really after no left, Trevor Francis took over and he, he, he was like quite straight with me. Um, he offered me a 12 year deal, said, I can’t guarantee your place. It’s, you know, up to you. And I just felt at the time that I, I owed I another a year, but um, just felt it was wrong time to walk away after my testimonial looking back.
John Frain (06:19):
Um, it probably would’ve been the best thing for me and for, for Bernie, if I’d had gone then, but it was came pretty apparent very, very quickly, um, that I wasn’t gonna figure at all in the new manager’s plans. Uh, and it was a case of just training with first year, second year pros and, and Y TSS. And it came quite so, uh, you know, day in, day out, you may joining your session with the first team or, you know, when they’re a bit short or whatever, I did play one game in that season in October, we weren’t going through a, a very UCH, I think quote, the saying said, he’d give everyone else a go, hadn’t give me a go. So we playing against sportsman away and I did, I didn’t play very well. I mean, I’d have very poor game. Um, but that was my one show.
John Frain (06:57):
I was that again, uh, I thought I had a good enough sort of P that someone might come and come and have a look and he’s got try and she, right, right. Attitude really. Um, I think that’s something I’ve always, you know, done okay. With, during my career, I had a strong mental attitude and, and there was some, some days there, it was like, you know, you train him as six, seven LA. They all about 20, 19 18. It was really tough. So it came to just before Christmas, I had a, I pulled Mac groin in a training session. So I ended up having a, her new operation and I run up to Christmas. I, um, bumped into to napkins, like used to live like quite local to myself in sunny hall. And he said, you watch what you’re doing. He said, you gotta get yourself out there.
John Frain (07:36):
I said, yeah, well, Christmas’s gotta get himself fit first. And this Tony operation and yeah, we see what the new year brings. And, um, I think it coincided with if Sean, Sean par breaking his, um, cheat bone, like I said, we, you come for a month on loan. So do you good do us good beneficial for both parties? So I think it was the first, second week in January, I came on loan for a month. Really enjoyed it. First two or three games. I was absolutely blowing. I’ve played for, I’ve got that one game team football, look it like, you know, first team football anywhere in any vision. Um, but settling really, really well. I mean, I knew quite a few of the lights anyway, so the connection really enjoyed it. And, and Ian in quite about taking me for another month I alone, but the manager me wouldn’t let me, so we call you back and I thought, okay, I’m gonna call back.
John Frain (08:24):
I might have a shot at, you know, being in the first team squad, but I was straight back in reserves and, uh, grew more frustrating. And it came to a head where I pulled the manager said with, what am I doing here? You know, and wasting your time, wasting my time. Uh, and in the end, um, I think my last game for Birmingham was reserve game and a cold night at Hesford 10, um, against inevitably reserves. It’s just sometimes football, just absolutely not 0 cent sense mentality. You know, it’s just the way it goes. It’s you pack the boots away that night and next morning training with Northampton on a short, short term, guilty than the season, I think just on deadline day or just before deadline day. And then obviously Northampton’s season was like, you know, heading in the right direction. So it was great. Great sign to join.
Charles Commins (09:06):
Yeah, I was, I was gonna say, because when you did sign, the cos was sitting inside the playoff places. We were sort of anywhere fifth, six or seventh over the course of, uh, about four or five games, sort of January, February time, when you first came on load, when you did arrive, what did, what did you make of the team at the first point? Because we didn’t have the best of starts to that season, but kind of come January. We we’d almost sneaked into the top half and then a couple of wins. I think we went four or five on the bounds, just saw us straight into those playoff places. And then it was, although we dropped out at one point, we kind of never looked back after that.
John Frain (09:47):
So I knew the way in worked very organized, like team to be strong, have a, a strong physical presence, especially for the spine of it, the immediate fee, what great bunch of lads, you know, settle in so quickly team spirit. It was one of the best dressing rooms I’ve ever played in the work ethic they had for each other. It was fantastic. You know, it made me feel so welcome straight away as well, some big strong characters in there as well, you know, and some experience players who had been there, um, and done, you know, John GOs got his two girls that went back in 91, you know, Dave ran Ray war and Ian Samson, but he wasn’t just those guys, you know, he was the guys who perhaps didn’t figure as much like some Mickey Warner. He didn’t probably get as many opportunities as he wanted or perhaps he deserved.
John Frain (10:30):
And there other guys, you know, Betty too, he was, and he’s number two, but they were great lads as well, you know, and really, really con to that, to that team spirit that we had at the time, got bit momentum going towards the end of this season as well. We just need to keep that going, not make any sense, folks. I think we remember planning its wig and we might have lost in the last minute. It might be eight, nine games to go. I might be wrong. Cause you memories goes up when get to my age. Um, we would play really well. Uh, and they were probably the best side in the division. He certainly deserve at least to joy out that game and end up losing it. But we took great confidence from that. And I think we went on a really good one then towards in the season.
Charles Commins (11:05):
Yeah, that was the last defeat of that season. <laugh> and literally you then go on, you only draw two other matches every other game you win.
John Frain (11:15):
Yeah. I just wanted a, a new lease of life and it is time, time me to go somewhere else. You know, it was only a short term deal as well. So we didn’t sort suit Orhan didn’t suit me. We could have got and said Frank very much. Let’s, uh, look at something else,
Charles Commins (11:28):
I suppose, in a way that opportunity for that, that short term deal, it gave you that, that chance to just, just showcase your yourself your, and were you hoping, therefore that actually a, a, a bigger club would see you and then come in or, or were you actually just sort of thinking I’m in the door here? Let’s do as good as I can so that they can’t say no to me come the end of the season.
John Frain (11:55):
Yeah. I just wanted to, to you myself, uh, I’d enjoyed the month plan alone, um, especially towards the end. So the first couple games, I was really fond on my legs, but after four or five games, I got my match fitness and, um, I felt I was really contributing as well. And I, you could just feel a sense of something happening. Um, and I thought right it back into it and like, say the momentum was, we thought this could develop into something. We’ve got a really good chance to get promotion here. No one actually come out and say it, but you just felt it. It was a feeling, uh, and certainly the manage was wasn’t going, you know, we we’re gonna get promotion this and that. It was like, you know, just a real quiet belief, uh, amongst us and say, I, I was really enjoying it. I had one or two pubs that were perhaps sniffing towards the end of the season. I didn’t have an agent, never had an agent from a career. So, you know, it’s just, you bring you here, but no, it’s just a case of, you know, let’s enjoy it. Let’s hopefully finish the season off. Well, and then let’s see what happens.
Charles Commins (12:50):
So let’s get to the playoffs. Then the end of the season, obviously we’re Cardiff in the semifinals. We go to their place and win one mill and then beat them three, two at six fields. And that sets up the big one at Wembley against Swanzi, as it turns out to be. What do you remember of those two semifinal games? Is there anything in particular that stood out for you in those matches? Did you feel like when we went into them, you said before that, although nobody came out and said it, there was a feeling, a good feeling about promotion. Did you think that, you know, you were going into those matches as favorites in your eyes?
John Frain (13:29):
We, we were very confident, uh, not over confident, but very confident. Don’t think anyone in the class really wanted to face us if they could face one, the other three clubs that would’ve been their preference, just think we were so strong. So organized. You know, we, we had a bit of a nasty streak about smile, but you know, really, really physical presence. You know, it wasn’t everyone everyone’s cup of team, you know, the way we played, perhaps wasn’t, but you know, that stage of season, it’s all about, you know, winning the big games, the card of game. I remember, I think it was Sunday morning. It felt like a Sunday morning. I think it was about 12 o’clock kick off, off 12 kick off. It just got a real odd time to be playing. And then, so we went to, um, we had a stroll about 10 o’clock and then got on the bus as much as, you know, the manag life stress.
John Frain (14:11):
It’s just the game. You, you know, it’s not, you know, it’s important how important it is. Yeah. Perhaps a, of tad more nervous, you know, we playing at ni park, fantastic grand as well against a decent side. But memory of the game is like everyone’s memory of the game. And Sean’s amazing goal. Haven’t seen Sean for a few years, but when we did and it’s, uh, it’s his second best goal ever scored by a cobbler. And, uh, he’s, uh, <laugh>, he adamants, it was better than mine and he’s probably right. It’s just an absolute, unbelievable goal. I think everyone just remembers they finish, but you he’s actual, I think he beat a couple players and he picked at the ball, but Sean, Sean’s a really good player, really good player, smashing that as well. Him and Roy on compliment. It should have really well
Charles Commins (14:51):
The second leg then when I’m watching it, I’m going, this feels very comfortable from an Northampton perspective. Did it feel like that
John Frain (14:59):
It did actually the atmosphere was, it was incredible, but we started really well, just felt in control for the whole 90 minutes. I know in of free too, we scored early doors. Next summer got the end of a free kid. They may have equalized made one, one. And then I think Jeff, I got sent off elbow in, might been grace. I can’t remember who he was, but he caught someone an elbow. But even before that, it was more like a scored sort of thing. It was, it was a bit odd. It didn’t feel like any panic stations, you know, setting in at all, uh, then sending off sort of artists to really not relaxed, but you know, dominate really. Then we score did two goals, um, razor from a, a set piece and go, and then they score right in the 90th minute. So it put, put a bit of a gloss on their score line for them, but never felt in danger in game just felt really, really comfortable cause really concentrated it real. I think the word I’d used that performance is really concentrated perform for, for 90 minutes from, from the LA you, you got lots of Ray T and Sam, Dave re you know, myself, Clarky Dean experienced players, you know, played, played a lot games and sort of knew how to see out the game as well. It just, the celebrations afterwards though, was controlled performance. The celebrations went too control. I,
Charles Commins (16:12):
I was gonna say, actually, just before we get to Wembley, there were quite a number of you that had already played in finals. Be it playoff finals or major events at Wembley stadium for some of you, do you think that benefited you as a side as a whole, the fact that you had so much experience of those of events already prior to this playoff campaign?
John Frain (16:36):
Definitely remember back in 91, we got to Wembley, Lou Macari obviously played at Wembley many times for Scotland. And, uh, Manuel Lou was a fitness fanatic and we run and running, running. We was, we had a weekend, uh, university, we thought final and we still running the then, you know, up to two days for the game. And he said to us, should, you’ll get to Wembley you going out for the wall and you won’t be able to feel your legs said you you’d be all the adrenaline and, and active, active in your legs. And he was bang on absolutely bang on you going for the warmup and just couldn’t film the thighs. And absolutely honestly, it was just never felt like anything like it in my career. So had to going back at, after to, into the dress dress rooms, get, get a rub from the physio, trying to get, you know, it was weird, real weird feeling.
John Frain (17:18):
So you don’t want sound like, oh, I’ve been to Wendy or play there. And you, that, wasn’t the case. You just trying to, you know, pass on as much as you can really, you know, to soak it up and experience down WEM Wayne went was something I’ll never forget. Uh, and again, Han, you know, you gotta really soak at the moment as well, trying to remain as much in the zone for the game as you can, but you got in, you know, I was really fortunate to play one, three times in my career really fortunate
Charles Commins (17:42):
On the day, then you you’ve gone out onto the pitch. You’ve done the whole walk around, walk up Wembley way and walk around the pitch, you know, in, in your suits and try to take it all in. Can you take it all in, you know, are you able to actually go, wow, this is big, or, or is it something you have to sort of just, just put your guard up almost and say, don’t let it overall. You as an occasion, as a, as an event,
John Frain (18:11):
I think IAM was quite, quite switched onto that. Really. We stopped at a hotel just around the corner from Wembley and we was gonna have win or lose a party afterwards at that hotel as well. So I remember about it’s about 11 o’clock, the wives and girlfriends were coming there. So there’s a bit of swap in and changing rooms. So Ian said, right, you’ve got 10 minutes to get your bag. If you moving room, get your bag, put it in a room. And that’s it. I was quick, hello to your wife, girlfriend and say, hello. And that’s it. So he is really conscious of there being no Des distractions really on it as a minimal Des distrac as possible. So as soon as you got to the ground, yeah, you, you walk around your suits, but everyone’s focus on what we are there for. I don’t think there was any danger with the preparation that we had that we weren’t aware. And so there’s enough players that been through similar situation anyway, to, uh, to make sure everyone was like tow the same line.
Charles Commins (19:04):
So you’re walking out then the two teams walking out the tunnel, that famous walk from the corner of the stadium to come out into, you know, in, in front of, I think the total attendance was 46,030, 2000 of which are all in Clara and white. I mean, that must have been amazing to see as a player. I mean, I remember thinking, wow, this is huge. This is brilliant for you. That that must have been incredible to see such a, you know, and I don’t mean any disrespect to my football team here, but to see such a small football club take that many fans and show that much potential must have been just inspiring.
John Frain (19:49):
It, it definitely was. I mean, the whole buildup, the town just really, really took off those couple of weeks before Wembley, everywhere. We went really, you know, people were so accommodating the, the suits getting measured for the suits and going to get, to get our shoes and, you know, silly things like that. It was just, you know, everyone was so, so much behind you. And, uh, everyone bumped into seemed to be going to the get as well, walking out the tunnel. It it’s like goosebump time. You do sort of take a breath and you think, ah, this is what you play for really, you know, it’s worth all the sacrifice and all the training reserves with six or 7, 18, 19 year old kids, you know, uh, putting yourself for those dark days and you think, oh, I’m doing this for you, do it for those days. And the, when you come out, that’s incredible. And as a player, you, God, you just want that to go. You want to start? So you can just, you know, start playing a game
Charles Commins (20:41):
At that point. Can you sort of zone the out, can you, as soon as you’re actually down to business, that kind of blurs almost into the background and, and you are there to do the same thing that you are there on a Saturday afternoon, at three o’clock to do every week. It doesn’t really matter where you are.
John Frain (20:58):
Yeah. You get the line, you get the formalities outta the way you peel off. Um, and those two weeks fun game starts, then that is it. You are just purely, purely focused on the game. There’s no looking for Soandso crowd. It’s the seasons work, you know, 46 games gone into that. You got the fly off, semi-final know it’s down to 90 minutes and, uh, you gotta be completely switched on. I, again was very much on the sports psychology side of things as well. And you tried to make sure immensely prepared for like this as well,
Charles Commins (21:29):
Forgetting about what happens right at the end for a minute. What do you remember the game itself?
John Frain (21:35):
I it’s fair to say it probably wasn’t the exciting cook final that’s ever been played there. Some of the afterwards was quite comic. I think both teams are so aware of what was at a bit cautious. If I’m honest, I think Swanzi probably slightly age first half, but I think the second half, second half was going. I think we come on quite strong. We about creating probably too many clear cut chances. I felt we were finishing the stronger side, thought we more threatening. We aware to have some quality, you know, maybe in his, his age, but if you’re giving time and space still, he could really hurt you. Um, so we didn’t allow him to play at all. He gets to about quarter an hour to go, you know, you just don’t wanna make a mistake to, to lose it really. And you’re just hoping someone, you know, or something happens to win it for you. But as a spectacle, it probably nerve wracking for the supporters. I imagine. Cause it’s, you know, it’s Neil on not sort of on top, really? You dunno which way it’s gonna go ticking down towards 90 weeks, extra time. Oh God penalties like, yeah. So as a player, you just really just focus on your job, keep doing your job, make sure one who’s next to me doing his job as well. Um, and you know, just try to see it through really and hoping someone comes up with something,
Charles Commins (22:49):
Come on, then talk me through the free kick.
John Frain (22:52):
No, it’s late in the game. By the time the freak it’s given, I think was it a far on Chrisy Lee perhaps? And there’s, there’s a big chair, goes up noise of anticipation. Really? The initial free kick is sort of right of center the goal just right center. So flavors a left further. There’s a right. So re whistle goes, I hits it. And as soon as I hits it, um, Jonathan coats as he’s broke, broken from the wall so early, and I think he’s about three, four yards away. My immediate reaction is to turn to the ref, but the fed to the referee he’s blew straight away and give it, I think he booked him for en for encroachment Sowan he worked very up. He obviously the ball got replaced. It was slightly more towards the center and I still fenced it. And, and, and Roy fair Timm said, what about the other side?
John Frain (23:40):
It opened it up a little bit. And I looked it, I thought we had it. It was a bit of a gap. We only thought really was get a good connection on it. Just good strike. Don’t hit the wall. Think don’t hit the wall unless you couldn’t tell you if my first one, if you hadn’t in crus, if it would’ve hit the wall, not, I couldn’t have tell you where would’ve ended up, but for the second one, I’ve soon as I’ve hit it. I know I’ve hit it quite sweetly. And I, I can’t really see around the wall. So I’m sort of trying then my head to see where it said the first I sort of knew it’s gone in is the noise and the last reaction there’s photo Jason White and the Sean as well. And then it’s just on unbelievable thing. I mean, that’s so many times what it felt like, and I still can’t describe what it felt like.
John Frain (24:24):
It’s just loads of different emotions. I think a massive one was relief, you know, cause everyone was realized how late in the game it was. And I didn’t even get a chance to, to run away and go towards the fans or, or whatever Roy’s straight there. So all of bloody the worst celebration in the world, but it was just sheer relief, disbelief, exhilaration, so different feelings in, in one moment. And I remember running back to the halfway line. I barely breathe. Honestly, I could barely breathe. I was trying to suck some breath in, cause you know, it’s late, but you dunno how breath might play another one, two minutes. And I thought the ball gets played over me. I can be able to move I’m you can’t honestly, I really sort of breathe. I think they kicked off and the guy last another 10 seconds. And when he, the rest blew up and uh, after that it just got the knee and Nixon, you know, the lads have all jumped on site, water coaches, stuff, all lads, weren’t playing on pitch as well. And that started water weekend and a few days they were <laugh> this incredible.
Charles Commins (25:27):
If you hadn’t have scored, um, the game had gone to extra time. Did you fancy your chances to still come out on top? Were you absolutely knocked?
John Frain (25:38):
Yeah, I, I, I think it was, but I think probably swans felt the same as well. Um, it was a really hot day. And what they say about when you pitch it sound true? It just seems twice a pitch of a plan it’s really, and he SAP in the turf as well. And it’s all again all please, but it’s all so true once you, you play there and it’s, uh, don’t think anyone’s looking forward to, to exercise, but you know, we, we are a strong bunch. We’re a strong, resilient bunch. So had gone to extra time. I still fancy the chances. And then the interesting question, would’ve come if had got penalties, you know, I can’t remember if we actually practicing, I guess we probably did. And I probably would’ve took one if I was list on the pitch at a time, but Jesus, I didn’t have to
Charles Commins (26:17):
<laugh> well, let’s, let’s fast forward then to the Monday and, and the, the parade that went through Northampton to the market square, um, we’ve been reminded by, uh, I think it was Mike SI actually, uh, on, on the other episode, on his episode, it reminded us of a song that was being sung by your Gery and Atkins, uh, about yourself on the top of the bus. Can you remember that at all?
John Frain (26:45):
He’s bored. He’s a bit along that to those
Charles Commins (26:47):
Lines. So something along those lines worth a million pounds, right? Johnny frame, Johnny frame. Yeah. <laugh>
John Frain (26:54):
I can’t describe what those few days were like. They were just, you know, the night time, the game, the night of the game, um, we got back to have, obviously you you’re just such a high. So I think the official thing kicked off at half cent, but you straight in dump a bag, the girls are getting ready. All the lad are back downstairs again. And then the fire alarm goes off in the hotel, so we’re all outside. And then someone says, I a put down the road. So you go to 20 hours down the road on the corners, a pub and it’s full of copper funds and, and the Swanee funds. So we spent an hour and a half in there. Uh, it just added to the night and back to the hotel. And you could have, you could have drunk and drunk and drunk.
John Frain (27:35):
It’s just one of those nights. You, you’re not gonna get drunk at night. I think I was up to that two, three o’clock in the morning and the Sunday you just go back and, and recovering a bit. And then Monday, yeah, we met at, at six fields for the bus tour. So Ian inspired me to one side and said, this I’m gonna try and set your contract out. So he, he said, this is what we Laia. Um, what do you think? Can I see that? My peak, so that was done and done on the Monday morning as well. So for me, that was great. You, I could let it go and I could have like waited, see what the office come in, but I’d so enjoyed the end of the season, uh, felt such a part of a great bunch of lad. Why, why move?
John Frain (28:11):
You know, we got promotion to division one as well, so you know why move, but that day the, uh, the bus tour, you, it was incredible. Absolutely incredible. You so many people on every corner was a few crates of lag on the coach. We had to do emergency stop at, I think Chicago rock, they allow, could use the facilities. And then, uh, back on the coach, the supporters were unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable. The noise they made, you know, the noise they made that we was, was unbelievable. The noise on that, on that bus, its just a absolute privilege be part of those few months. And then for the following 12 months again, we managed to, to carry on massively. I achieved in that division, I think with the school players and resources we had. And when was 90 minutes away from going into what? With the championship now what an achievement that would’ve been just a, yeah, a real favorite part of my career those days, two years really were. Um, and I gave a privilege to be playing with that group of players.
Charles Commins (29:12):
Do you, so I mean you spent six years with us in the end, captaining the side for some of those as well, maybe a silly question, but where, where does the goal rank in your career app? The cos was it it number one?
John Frain (29:28):
Oh yeah. Personally and selfishly. Yes. Yeah. I think one of the reporters, uh, I think from the times he said most D games that I watched both managers must have said to their players go and treat this like any normal game in division two. He said, unfortunately they did. And uh, it was just, uh, times like that and situations like that, don’t like, I think I got caught a journeyman pro and one of them and, and one guy said, who is this? Was this a youngster young, 19 year old upcoming, you know, no, it was a journeyman balding, uh, fallback <laugh> school in a way. He sort, you know, things like that don’t happen to players like me too many times, but no it was, um, yeah, the best individual, my, my career sometimes I didn’t feel like, like a fraud as such, but I sort of came onto the, the coattails with the lads achievement, you know, and they, the month in January and then for mid March. Yeah. So just for each, for all players, really every member of that squad, um, what a, what a great bunch last thing were.
Charles Commins (30:28):
Yeah. I was gonna ask you with that goal, you then get named and, and this is fast forwarding, you know, nine, 10 years now, you were chosen by the fans as one of three favorite club heroes, BBC sports cult heroes poll, uh, which happened in 2006, the others were Dave Bowen and SAMO. Is that hard for you to sort of comprehend or see yourself as being seen in that high esteem by fans? I imagine in a way it must be quite, you know, getting asked to do things like this, coming on a podcast, just to talk about goal and you know, you were on radio north Hampton the other week to do exactly the same thing. I dunno how I would feel about that. I, I I’d kind of go well, what’s all the fuss about all I did was just, you know, hit one ball with my effort and it rippled the back of the net. That’s all I did.
John Frain (31:26):
<laugh> yes. Amazed to be honest is in that top three, when you consider all the players, managers, coaches been involved in Northampton. One of my favorite people at Northampton with a six years are there was God bless and den Casey, such a fantastic man. One of the best many ever met in football. And for me, he, he would be the top three of those people, much more deserving than me, to be honest, just a fantastic guy, epitomize everything about, you know, what was about Northampton, not just a physio, the kid did the warmups, you know, such a, such a fantastic sense of humor. I mean, I, unfortunately I spent so many times with Dennis towards him in a career in the physio room, you know, got to know each other really well. And he he’s one person we raising a glass to in a, in a few weeks time when we, when we get together, I do, I love talking about the odd times, you know, I don’t wanna travel on and I don’t wanna you, I wouldn’t force them anybody, but someone’s asked me a question.
John Frain (32:18):
I said, do you wanna talk about that season or the season afterwards? Oh, gladly do it. Cause I’ve been that such happy memories and you forget, you know, a lot, lot of things really. It’s not until you might ask a question think, oh God, yeah. That triggers a memory and think, oh, I forgot about so and so, or yeah, it’s uh, just, just great times. God, I was very fortunate to be a football for 16 years and you sort of go through good times, bad times. Uh, but when you get a bit older, you tend to appreciate exactly what you had. Uh, and it just fantastic memories.
Charles Commins (32:46):
Well, look, I know you’re coming to the event on the 20th of May coming to see us coming, see the fans. Um, if you want to, you can go and get your tickets for that. Now just go to the NTFC website. But one of the things LA us here, John, we’re looking forward to seeing you there. Now, obviously we’re gonna be in the west end and people are gonna be facing the east end, which is hopefully Touchwood due to be finally finished at some point in the near future. Now we’re expecting several of the boxes of course, to end up being named after people from the football club’s history. I’m, I’m sure your name will be in the frame for that, but here on the podcast, one of the campaigns that we’re actually doing is to get the corridor that will link all of those boxes together to be branded as the Dean peer corridor. Now I’m just wondering if you could just lend us your support for that campaign. We need to get the football club on board with this
John Frain (33:44):
Absolutely 100%. And I play with Dean at Birmingham, uh, for many years we as apprentice together, which I mean, Dean go back. He used to play against his 14, 15. He was so appreciated by his fellow professionals, but the work he did on the pitch, sometimes he didn’t must look most attractive players, but he would never stop ring and he would leave every bit of himself on that pitch. Every time he played. And for me as a, as a, as a player coach manager, it’s all Asal from the player, uh, smashing LA as well. Didn’t deserve some stick. He got used Toru it off. Didn’t affect him, smashing lad P about his, his dress sense. But apart from that, yes, 100% beyond that.
Charles Commins (34:23):
Brilliant. Thank you so much for chatting with me, John, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you. We’ve got loads more to come from the class of 97 in the coming weeks and don’t forget. to book your place of the anniversary event on Friday? The 20th of May at six was, as I said before, you can do that by getting in touch with the club or visiting and okay. Thanks for listening. And we’ll be back again with another legend.
Charles is the founder and main presenter of the award-winning It’s All Cobblers To Me podcast.
He began the podcast after going self-employed in 2018 as a podcast producer and voiceover artist. The original thought being that It’s All Cobblers To Me would be a place to try out new things – like a test podcast of sorts.
As well as being Cobblers mad, Charles is also a ultramarathon runner and has a blog about that that he tries to keep up to date as often as he can.