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County Ground
Northampton Town FC

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Ground History
Before moving to the new Sixfields Stadium in 1994, Northampton Town had previously only had one home ground, the County Ground. The Club, nicknamed the Cobblers after the town's long association with the shoe industry, had played at the site since their formation in 1897 and their admittance to the Midland League the year after. A small Main Stand was constructed prior to the First World War with terracing to either side. In 1924 a new Main Stand was constructed that ran the full length of the pitch, but this was mostly destroyed by fire in 1930 and had to be re-built. This covered stand had seating to the rear and terracing to the front. The stand survived until 1985, but following the Bradford City Disaster, it was deemed to be unsafe and then demolished, leaving only the terracing behind. At both ends of the ground were terraced areas. The Hotel End was covered after the Second World War, whilst the other end the Spion Kop, remained uncovered until the ground was finally closed. A small temporary Main Stand was erected in 1986, which sat astride the half way line. 

Tuesday, October 12th 1994, saw the last ever league match to be played at the County Ground. This saw a 1-0 defeat for the Cobblers, at the hands of Mansfield Town (attendance 4,993).

Hotel End

Hotel End

What Was The Ground Like
The ground was unusual in the respect that it was situated on the edge of a cricket ground. The Club shared the site with Northamptonshire County Cricket Club. This meant that one side of the ground was completely open, giving you good views of the cricket pavilion. For popular games, such as FA Cup ties, temporary seating was erected along this open side. Because the ground had only three sides and with the loss of the Main Stand in the mid 1980's there really wasn't much to it. At one end was the Spion Kop, which was a small open terrace, which was given to away supporters. The other end, the Hotel End, was a small covered terrace for home fans. Opposite the open side was a very small covered seated stand, that was nicknamed the 'Meccano Stand' by the fans, because of the visible scaffolding that surrounded it. The ground also had imposing looking floodlight pylons at each corner.

Temporary Main Stand

Main Stand

Record Attendance
24,523 v Fulham,
Division One, April 23rd, 1966.
This attendance was set in Northampton's only season in the top flight, the 1965-66 season.

Did You Know?
New floodlights were installed at the beginning of the 1980-81 season. However, when they were first used, for the match against Southend United, they failed. The match had to be abandoned!

The then lowest ever Football League attendance was recorded at the County Ground during the 1984-85 season. Only 942 supporters turned up to watch the game against Chester City.

Spion Kop

Spion Kop

Fans Memories
I worked in Northampton in the mid 1980's and so I used quite regularly trundle along to the County Ground. I used to quite enjoy it. A couple of pints of real ale in the County Tavern, which was within staggering distance of the home turnstiles. Then sing your heart out time in the Hotel End, which for a small terrace, produced quite a disproportionate loud noise!

Peter Reynolds adds; 'I watched the Cobblers in the top division. The noise under the Hotel End was incredible - it must have simply echoed back down off of the low roof. On the cricket side were duckboards and the Spion Kop terrace only reached the goal posts. For the 1965/66 season a temporary stand continued the accommodation to the other side of the goal posts. After the Football Club vacated the site, there was never to be loud cheering heard again until Northamptonshire Cricket Club played Notts on a bank holiday in 1995 and won.

Whilst Stuart Lucas shares some of his memories; '
Looking at the pictures in the Lost Section of the Football Ground Guide, brings back some wonderful memories of visits to the County Ground. My earliest memories of watching football are standing on the Hotel End or sitting in the Main Stand with my Grandad, Dad and brother watching the Cobblers get promoted in the 74/75 season, I think it was. It's a particular game from the following season however, that still makes me laugh.

It was an early season game against Bournemouth and being a lovely day we decided to stand on the open terrace - the Spion Kop. This was the only time I ever stood at that end. The Cobblers chose to attack the Hotel End in the first half and proceeded to bang in 6 goals. Given that the County Ground was the longest pitch in the league and I was hardly able to see over the fences, you can imagine my frustration at my Dad's decision to switch ends. Being a naive young boy, I thought we'd get a hat full in the second half too and I'd clearly see them all. Naturally we could barely muster a shot on target and the game finished 6-0.

When I visit the County Ground now It's hard to imagine that a football ground ever existed. I suppose Walsall fans would say the same when they walk past Morrisons Supermarket etc etc, but I still get goose bumps when I stand in roughly the same spot I stood for so many years. I can still smell the soggy wet burgers, bovril and the stench of urine from the open air toilets. I can still see the ball boys disappearing in to the night and gingerly treading on the cricket square to retrieve one of our Centre Half's clearances. Happy Days! Without doubt it was the worst ground in the football league, but it was home'.

Cricket Ground Side

Cricket Ground Side

What Is Left Now?
All that remains are the Hotel End turnstiles, which still form part of the perimeter of the County Ground land:

Hotel End Turnstiles

Main Stand In 1985

The old Main Stand shortly before it was demolished:

Main Stand 1985

Thanks to Dave Couseins and Richard Newman for providing a number of photos for this page.

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