Chris Wilder insists neither he nor chairman Kelvin Thomas will rest on their laurels after the club’s most successful season in nearly three decades as the pair begin the mission of planning for life in League One.
The Cobblers were crowned Sky Bet League Two champions on Saturday when club captain Marc Richards raised the trophy in front of a record Sixfields crowd following their 2-0 win over Luton.
With one game to go, Northampton could potentially match the tally of 99 points set by Graham Carr’s title-winning team in 1986/87 if they beat Portsmouth on Saturday.
After soaking up the applause on his lap of honour on Saturday, Wilder said: “It’s exciting to look forward because the club is on the up.
“Everyone around has seen the work and the impact the chairman has done in terms of working in the community and working with local business – he’s not sat in his office.
“He’s driving this club forward and that’s what happens because you need that drive off the pitch to match the drive on the pitch and we’ve got that.
“We’ve got a chairman I’ve known for a long time and he’s a grafter and a winner and he will make sure this club doesn’t stand still because it’s really important that we kick-on.
“We have to move forward and gain the momentum because it’ll be a tough division next year and there’s no guarantees that we’ll do a Burton.
“To go from two to one to the Championship is an outstanding effort and we’re in for a tough season next year but we can go into it with a club on the up and forward-thinking.”
Wilder received a standing ovation from a packed Sixfields crowd when collecting his medal on Saturday having led the club to just a third divisional title in 119 years.
Reflecting on the season, Wilder struggled to pick out one particular highlight, instead saying: “Just everything – it’s really difficult.
“You look at Bristol Rovers at the start and John-Joe scoring, the Wycombe game, Leyton Orient, the Oxford game where Smudger (Adam Smith) saves a penalty.
“Brendan scoring at Notts County and everything then kicks off after that and you go right the way through.
“If I’m a punter at this football club there’s been so many highlights this season and moments to treasure and moments to look back on with a real great sense of pride in terms of how we’ve all gone about our business.”
“You don’t see players and staff not getting paid on time and then getting off the canvas to produce performances and results like this group of players have done.”Chris Wilder
Although promotion was not officially achieved until three weeks ago, Northampton knew their fate long before having built up such a commanding lead over every other side in League Two.
Wilder continued: “I thought we got promoted after the Stevenage game because when Ricky scored that goal, our reaction at the end was one of ‘we’ve got promoted’.
“It was such a limbo situation because so many teams had so many games to play and it wasn’t mathematically done.
“It was incredible and still in this division teams have not got promoted.
“Maybe in League One teams have gone up but no team in the Championship has gone up and we’re sat there at the top.
“We’ve topped a real tough competition this season because I looked at the betting at the start of the season and I looked at Leyton Orient, at Portsmouth, at Cambridge, at Oxford, at Notts County.
“You look at all those teams and you thought this was a tough division this season and we’ve basically smashed the division.
“That’s down to everybody as an all-round effort.
“Deep down the players will be a little bit miffed that we haven’t got 100 points but to win the championship is hard enough and to win it in the manner we’ve done, with all the things that have happened, you just don’t see it.
“You don’t see players and staff not getting paid on time and then getting off the canvas to produce performances and results like this group of players have done.
“You’ve got to be grounded and get on with it which we have done all season and I’m so proud to be involved in it all.”