In the stadium you could buy alcohol you just couldn’t take it to your seat and there were a fair few people making the most of the competition’s association with ‘piss-water’ manufacturers Carling. The sound of Cobblers fans outside penetrated the concrete walls, I couldn’t wait to get out there and soak it all in. As I walked up the narrow steps, I could hear the wave of sound getting louder, we joined in with familiar songs celebrating the green fields and blue skies of Northampton town, dismissing the need for “big city lights” and proclaiming we have not only the finest town you’ll ever see but also the finest team there’ll ever be.
There was a real buzz of excitement in the stand. We were flanked by half empty Liverpool stands at either side and boxed in under another band of scousers above. It was perhaps apt that we found ourselves in the lower reaches of the stadium with Liverpudlians high above us a reflection on our relative positions in the Football League. Songs and chants only ever stopped briefly and that was only to be replaced by the claps and cheers that greeted our players stepping out for their final warm up. We cheered every player. Chants of “Super Kev, Super Kevin Thornton” met the Irishman as he came to applaud us for making the journey north. A huge cheer for fan favourite and local boy Michael Jacobs was followed by the customary chant of “that boy Michael Jacobs, he’s one of our own,” as the tricky winger came to salute the crowd.
Songs and chants poured out from the away end filling the stadium and drowning out any feeble attempts from the sparse home support to respond. Liverpool’s world superstars were mostly resigned to being rested. The likes of Joe Cole and Steven Gerrard came out to greet us and to sign some autographs for fans in the front rows. It was a nice gesture that we received well. We expressed our gratitude with taunts of “Who are ya!” and “we’re only here for the Cobblers.”
I watched as our striker Steve Guinan struck a ball cleanly into the bottom corner during the warm up, with Steven Gerrard still signing autographs the seemingly obvious chant of “there’s only one Stevie G!” chorused around the stand. Of course Gerrard has made a much bigger stamp on world football but for tonight at least there was only one ‘Stevie G’ who could affect the outcome of a game that would be starting in only a matter of minutes…