Graham Carr is hoping his former club have a good night at Newcastle United on Tuesday - but not too good a night!
The ex-Cobblers boss and player is chief scout at St James’s Park, and is also on the Magpies board, and he was delighted when the two clubs closest to his heart were drawn to play each other in the Capital One Cup second round.
Northumberland-born Carr is a Geordie boy through and through, but he moved south to play for Northampton in the mid-1960s, and still lives in Overstone.
It’s going too far to say the 70-year-old has split loyalties over the meeting in the north east next Tuesday night, as he is very much in the black and white striped corner.
But he also has a very, very strong affinity with the claret and white of Northampton (after all, he does have a bar named after him at Sixfields!), and is hoping everybody involved with the Cobblers has a night to cherish at St James’s Park, even if he hopes they ultimately end up disappointed.
“I think it is a nice draw for Northampton, and I am pleased for them,” said Carr, who played for the Cobblers for seven seasons in the 1960s, making almost 100 first team appearances, and managed them from 1985 to 1990 .
“I still see people around Sixfields who were supporting the club when I was the manager, and they have a fantastic bunch of hardcore supporters.
“The fans at Northampton are as good as anywhere, and you just feel as though they deserve something in football.
“I just hope they get it in the league and not the League Cup!
“But I do hope everybody enjoys their night at Newcastle. I hope they enjoy the atmosphere, and get well looked after.”
Carr, who was at Sixfields to see Town lose 2-0 to Plymouth on Saturday, was in charge of the Cobblers the last time they played Newcastle United.
It was an FA Cup tie at St James’s Park on January 21, 1987, with the match having been postponed from its original date on the first Saturday of the month due to heavy snowfall and icy conditions in the north east.
Conspiracy theories still do the rounds today (snow being shovelled from the terraces on to the pitch!) that the Magpies weren’t keen on that original date, as the free-scoring Cobblers were smashing all before them in division four, while Newcastle were struggling at the foot of division one.
The Cobblers had also sold in excess of 6,000 tickets for the Saturday, with the number of travelling fans severely diminished by the rescheduling on a Tuesday.
Key strikers Peter Beardsely and Paul Goddard would also have been unavailable for the original date due to injury, but by the time the match was played three weeks later, the pair were fit,and were to play a crucial role.
The Cobblers still gave a good account of themselves and gave their hosts a huge scare, with free-scoring midfielder Richard Hill cancelling out Goddard’s opener
But Town’s chances of victory had been dealt a blow with a serious knee injury to talismanic striker Trevor Morley, and it was midfielder Andy Thomas who sealed a narrow win for the home side in front of 23,177 supporters.
Carr remembers the night fondly, and feels his players grew in confidence for the rest of the season, which ended in a memorable division four title success and promotion.
He also remembers the nerves of the 3-2 second round replay win over Southend United that secured the tie against his boyhood heroes.
“I remember the Southend game before it, and we knew we would be playing Newcastle if we won,” recalled Carr.
“We went a goal down against Southend, and I was thinking ‘oh dear’, but thankfully we did enough to win.”
And on the trip to Newcastle, Carr says: “We were quite a confident side, and I didn’t see any nerves at all. The players were all quite relaxed, and I think they thrived playing in front of a big crowd.
“Some people freeze, but they didn’t, they enjoyed the big stage.
“We were confident of playing well, but Trevor Morley got injured. That was a blow, but it was good while it lasted.”
Carr is hoping the trip to St James’s Park will inspire the Cobblers players, and set them up for the rest of the campaign.
“I think this will be a good game for the Northampton lads, and it might do them good for the rest of the season,” said Carr
“It certainly didn’t do us any harm, as we went on to win the league.
“Playing at places like Newcastle can inspire players. I hope it’s not the case, but for some of the Northampton players this might be the biggest stage they will ever play on.
“It will be something for them to look back on.”