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The first part of a three part look back on his time in charge with Ian Atkins

22 April 2020

Ian Atkins managed Northampton Town through the second half of the 1990s.

After finishing at the foot of the Football League in 1994 and only staying up because Kidderminster Harriers' ground was not up to standard, just three years later, the club were playing at Wembley in front of 32,000 Cobblers fans.

The following year 42,000 Northampton Town supporters were present as they got to within a game of the second tier.

Atkins oversaw a huge transformation in the club's fortunes and in a three part interview, we look back on Atkins' time in charge of the club with the man himself.

In today's first part, we cover the time from his appointment in January 1995 through to the May 1997 Wembley play off victory over Swansea City.

You can hear the first part below in full.

On taking over:
"When I took over I felt we needed to bring more Division 3 experience in.
"We also needed some physical strength in there, players who could head it clear in our area and were a threat in the opposition area if we could put the ball in with quality and I remember signing Nicky Smith at left back early on, someone who could deliver the ball with quality."

On the 1996/97 promotion season:
"Lee Maddison got injured in January and I went back to Birmingham for John Frain to play at left back. John is a player who is as honest as the day is long and someone with a fantastic left foot. He had been injured at Birmingham and Barry Fry was good enough to let us take John. He came in just after the half way mark in the season and he settled in well. The belief started to build and it was around then we had momentum and I felt we just had to keep on that line."

On the play off final win at Wembley:
"Everyone used to say the pitch at Wembley is so big it saps you but I don't think it was the pitch, I think it was the build up that could tire you out. You can spend too much time on the build up and there can be too many distractions. In the build up we made sure the players enjoyed things but we also pulled them away from it, we limited their media requirements and other things and told them to focus on the game. We were staying in the Wembley Hilton Hotel and the night before some of the players went to watch the greyhounds at Wembley. It was a really relaxed build up and we had a good feeling and a good sense ahead of the game."

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