Northampton Town: The club formed by teachers on a 125-year 'rollercoaster ride'

Sixfields, the home of Northampton Town. Credit: PA

If there's one period of history that sums up the rollercoaster of emotions supporting Northampton Town, it's the 1960s.

How many other clubs could say that they were promoted from the fourth tier of English football to the top flight in just five seasons, before then being relegated all the way back down again over the next five years?

It sounds so far-fetched that you assume it must be made up, but astonishingly, this really was how the 60s played out for the Cobblers.

Whatever you say about life as a Northampton Town fan, it's never dull.

Even in recent times, the club have bounced from League Two to League One, and back again, having been promoted via the play-offs in 2020 before then being relegated the following season.

And guess what? There's every chance they could be set for an immediate return to the third tier next season with the club currently sitting second in League Two.

Northampton Town's first ever team photo in 1897. Credit: Northampton Town

It's fair to say the Cobblers have come a long way since they were formed by a group of local school teachers on 9 March 1897.

The group met with solicitor AJ "Pat" Darnel at the The Princess Royal Inn on Wellingborough Road and created the town's first professional football club.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

That history will begin another significant chapter this weekend when the club celebrates its 125th anniversary.

The players will wear a special blue and chocolate kit for their game against promotion rivals Tranmere Rovers on Saturday, while a series of other events have also been planned - including the return of a number of club legends and the unveiling of banners made by local schoolchildren.

The Northampton Town team of 1965-66, the only Cobblers team to ever play in the top flight. Credit: PA

Ethan Grande is among those who has been helping to organise the celebrations.

He has the Cobblers in his blood, having taken over as the club's historian following the death of his grandfather Frank in 2019.

Frank passed all his knowledge down to Ethan, who is continuing the family's love affair with the club.

"I started following the Cobblers when we lost to Bradford in the play-off final in 2013, and what makes you stick with them when they lose a play-off final at Wembley? I certainly don't know," Mr Grande told ITV News Anglia.

"You just stick with them because it's a rollercoaster ride. You go up and down but you always stick with them because you follow them over land and sea, as we always sing."

The pinnacle of that rollercoaster ride came in the 1965-66 season, which remains the Cobblers' only ever top flight campaign.

The club may have finished second from bottom that season, but the memories created by manager Dave Bowen and his players still live on to this day.

The Cobblers are currently riding high in League Two. Credit: PA

"No one ever expected us to make it to Division One when it happened but we got there thanks to Dave Bowen," said Mr Grande.

"It was just a great time. You follow the club and you just know you're going to go on that rollercoaster ride we always talk about."

Another promotion would perhaps be the most fitting way to honour the club's 125th birthday year, but whatever happens, the bond between the Cobblers and their fans will go on and on.

"This town without a football club, it wouldn't be Northampton Town," Ethan said.

"Obviously we've got the Saints and the cricket as well, and the football club just finishes it off and makes it such a great town for sport."