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Interviews

THE ATKINS YEARS: PART THREE

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

24 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 final part, we pick things up after the play off final defeat against Grimsby Town.

"It was always going to be difficult to follow that the next season," Atkins said.

"We made mistakes but we were really unlucky as well. We had had two Wembley play off finals back to back and we had probably only had three or four weeks off each summer and I think that lack of rest caught up with us a bit and the volume of football was catching up with us and we started to pick up injuries. On top of that, I always used to do my own pre-seasons but I decided to do something different and we got someone in and it was a more physical pre-season.

"Damien Matthew and Paul Wilkinson went down injured and it started us off on a run of a host of injuries one after another. Ian Clarkson broke his leg in the Lincoln game, Ian Sampson was injured, so was Ray Warburton and it just went on and on. We sort of created our own monster but we were an unlucky monster with 18 major operations that season. Physio Denis Casey said he hadn't seen anything like it.

"But we made a go of it. We were unbeaten in the last nine games but couldn't win enough of them to get out. If I had a fully fit squad we wouldn't have signed so many players. We tried to improve but I made mistakes."

Hear the final part of our feature below:


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