We caught up with Chairman Kelvin Thomas for an update on matters on and off the field:
HOW HAVE YOU VIEWED THE START TO THE SEASON?
It certainly took us a few games to get going but once we found our feet we had a decent September. We know that the Leyton Orient game wasn't good enough and that fell way below the standards Keith expects but there were enough signs in the month before that we are heading the right way and have a solid group that can help take us forward. The late goals we conceded against Crawley and Morecambe were a kick in the teeth and without those we would be sitting in a very encouraging position in the league, but that shouldn’t distract us from the progress we are making. I watched both games on iFollow as I was in the US and most of the feedback I got afterwards was that we controlled the games and played some good football, but should have done better to close them out.
When you add a lot of new players in to any group as we have, and are also having to change some cultures, then it does take time to find a level of consistency that you need. Some of the new players will adapt to the demands placed on them at different speeds and we have lost some key players to injury at the wrong times already this season and that hasn't helped, but overall, we are progressing but we are also fully aware there is more work to be done.
HOW HAS DAVID KELLY SETTLED IN AS DEVELOPMENT COACH?
David has added to what is a strong staff group and I think they are establishing an excellent culture within the playing squad. We have a good structure and a tight group and while we might not yet quite have the consistency we are all looking for, we are certainly on a positive trajectory. We have seen flashes of improvements made by individual players as well as the improvement of the overall group, the next challenge is to try and become more consistent and win more matches.
Part of David’s responsibility is also to work with our younger players while also keeping an eye on them while on loan, which is an important part of that process. It is always good to see Shaun McWilliams doing so well knowing that he went through that process of going out on loan at various times when he was younger to help him develop both physically and as a player.
HOW ABOUT MATTERS OFF THE FIELD?
James and the team are all working very hard to build on the EFL matchday experience award the club won last season. We have a new partner for the family area, Grange Mortgages, and that area has been refurbished and extended. The Trapp'd bus is another big step forward for us and moving the Sixfields Sounds pre-match set to outside Carr's Bar has been well received and it is great to hear that playing away when you walk down the steps to the stadium. I think that really adds to the atmosphere. These are all improvements that have added something to the existing award winning matchday experience and on that note in the next few days we will be sending a survey out to season ticket holders who sit in the back of the Sheinman Opticians Stand to seek their views on safe standing. No decisions have been made on that yet, we are simply seeking opinions at this stage. More details on that will come out shortly. We are also hoping to be able to unveil the Dave Bowen bust outside the stadium in the coming weeks and we are working closely with the Bowen family on that, so there is plenty going on at the moment.
IN MANY WAYS, IT HAS BEEN A TOUGH TIME FOR THE CLUB OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS?
It has. In the last few weeks a number of supporters have passed and our thoughts and sympathies go out to every person affected by a recent loss. The Harry Dunn situation is in the news a lot at the moment, and it is an awful situation. Harry was a Cobblers fan who was tragically killed in a road accident in August and we send our heartfelt condolences out to all of his family and friends. We do hope justice can be served in that matter and Harry will always be part of the Northampton Town family. We also said goodbye to Club President Bob Church MBE whom we remembered at the Newport game with Jeannette and members of his family, and then last Saturday we paid tribute to Justin Edinburgh. I hope that in all the tributes, we managed to strike the right tone and allow supporters the opportunity to pay their respects in a dignified way. Whilst still being very disappointed with the result on Saturday night, it was nice to receive a text message from Kerri (Edinburgh), Justin's widow, and the family thanking us for the tribute we paid.
WE CAN'T GO THROUGH A Q&A WITH YOU WITHOUT ASKING ABOUT THE EAST STAND, WHAT IS THE LATEST?
We are making progress, it is slow but steady but progress all the same. As part of the process, in the last few months, David (Bower) and I have transferred our ownership of CDNL over to the Football Club. We have always said that whilst being legally required to purchase any CDNL shareholding in our own names and not through the Club initially, it was always regarded as common ownership from our perspective anyway. However, now as time has moved on and we are legally able to do this, we have completed the paperwork so CDNL is owned by the Football Club and there can be no misunderstanding that any proceeds from any land around the ground would only be used to benefit the Football Club. The Borough Council are fully aware of this now, and we had a good meeting yesterday (Monday) with them. There are still challenges with the site, but we feel we are addressing these challenges in a pragmatic way.
FINALLY, JUST A WORD ABOUT COMMUNITY DAY A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO.
A very positive day. The club's community programme is one of the jewels in the crown not just of the club, but of the whole town. The lives we help to change, improve and enrich is a huge source of pride for us and while the mood of all of us moves up and down based around the first team, the consistent work the club does to help, educate, inspire and entertain thousands of people each week is a joy to behold. Whether we are winning or losing on any given Saturday, we are making a huge difference to thousands of people every Monday to Friday and the players and management staff we have here at the moment really buy into that ethos of a community club. It is often said that not enough people know about our work, so it was great to have that Community Day to throw the spotlight on some of the work we do. One of the new projects I am really excited about is the Premier League Kicks project. We are delivering this in Blackthorn in Northampton and on the Kingsway and Queensway estates in Wellingborough. This helps to raise awareness around violent crime, reduce anti-social behaviour and is supported by the local police who attend to build a positive relationship with local young people and break down barriers between communities and the police. One of the players is due to go along to one of these sessions in the next few weeks and we are really excited about this project and the benefits it can bring.