Byrom has no hard feelings as Cobblers career comes to an end

Joel Byrom in action during his only start for the Cobblers this season, in the 3-0 defeat at Peterborough United in October
Joel Byrom in action during his only start for the Cobblers this season, in the 3-0 defeat at Peterborough United in October

Joel Byrom says he has no hard feelings about the way his Cobblers career ended - and is backing Rob Page and his former team-mates to enjoy a strong second half to the season in Sky Bet League One.

The midfielder signed an 18-month deal at league two side Mansfield Town last weekend, having had his contract at Sixfields terminated on New Year’s Eve.

The 30-year-old spent two-and-a-half years at the Cobblers, and labels it as being the best time of his career, but he felt he had to move on to get out on the pitch and play football again.

A key member of Chris Wilder’s league two title winning team, Byrom found himself sidelined this season, with manager Rob Page favouring the experience of Matt Taylor in the left-sided central midfield role.

Byrom was a regular in the Cobblers match day squad in the first half of this season, but he made just one start - in the 3-0 derby defeat at Peterborough United where he was taken off at half-time - and one substitute appearance, with his only other game time being two starts in the EFL Trophy.

The new loan rules that mean players can no longer go out to other clubs for a month or two to get matches and keep ticking over inbetween transfer windows meant that Byrom had to just sit tight and work hard in training.

I have not missed a single training session, I was in there every day and I always gave my all. But it’s part of football, and if the manager doesn’t think you’re ready to play, then you can’t really do much about it

Former Cobblers midfielder Joel Byrom

And with no sign of Page changing his mind and giving him the starts he craved, the player decided to move on, but insists he has no problem with what happened to him in his final six months at Sixfields.

“It’s part of being a footballer, you get a new manager come in and it is all about opinions,” said Byrom, who made his debut for the Stags in their 1-0 win at Blackpool on Monday.

“The manager obviously didn’t rate me that much, and it is one of those things.

“It was tough this year with the new rules, because it meant I couldn’t go out on loan, which meant I was sort of stuck there until January.

“I was still working hard in training to try and get myself back in the team, and I like to think I am a good professional.

“I have not missed a single training session, I was in there every day and I always gave my all.

“But it’s part of football, and if the manager doesn’t think you’re ready to play, then you can’t really do much about it.”

Looking back on his one start, when Byrom was asked to play in an experimental central midfield alongside Paul Anderson and Sam Hoskins at Posh, the player feels he again did the best he could in difficult circumstances.

“I still had to give the best account of myself in that game, and I thought I did that, but the manager said he brought me off at half-time when we were 2-0 down because I had been booked,” said Byrom.

“So it was a chance for me, but I obviously didn’t take it in his eyes and I was back to square one again.”

Byrom has obviously seen close up just how the Cobblers have adjusted to life in league one this season, and although the team is currently going through a sticky patch, he is confident they will pull through it.

“I think they will be fine,” said the former Preston North End and Stevenage man.

“If the recruitment is good in January, and they get who they want in and move on those they want out, then it is down to them after that.

“They obviously have the players there because they did so well earlier in the season, and I think this is just a bit of a dip in form because they are low on confidence.

“But they just have to pick up a couple of decent results and things can turn quite quickly, and get on a decent run until the end of the season.”

Byrom also confirmed the spirit in the Sixfields camp is good, and said: “They are a good set of lads, a good set of honest professionals, and there are no bad eggs in there.

“Everybody wants to do well there, but sometimes in football you just don’t get that bit of luck.

“There have been a couple of setbacks, and obviously the Stourbridge game was a bit of a downer, but you just have to pick yourself back up.

“The lads work 100 per cent every day, and will be doing all they can to get back on a winning run.”

Byrom was brought to the Cobblers by Wilder, who signed him from Preston in the summer of 2014, and he says he had a huge influence on him inspiring him to play the best football of his career.

So how does Town’s new man Page compare with his predecessor?

“I don’t think they are massively different, and they both have a huge passion for the game,” said Byrom.

“They are both determined to win football matches, it’s just that I don’t think Rob has had the same luck that Chris had with certain things last season.

“There was the form of Nicky Adams in the first half of last season, the form of Ricky Holmes after Christmas, and they were winning games and producing massive moments on their own.

“They were massive in games, and I just don’t think those moments have come this season.”

Byrom has only been at Field Mill for a week, and is settling in well, but he admits he will always look out for the Cobblers results.

“It will be one of the first results I look out for, because I am still quite close to one or two of the players,” he said.

“I spoke to a few of them after the Bradford game, just to see how everything went, and I will continue to do that.”

Byrom has joined an ambitious Mansfield outfit, who have former Leeds United boss Steve Evans in charge. and who still have ambitions of promotion this season.

“I am enjoying it,” said Byrom. “I spoke to Lee Collins (former Cobblers defender) about it, and he said that it’s a very similar club to Northampton.

“It is a well-run club, and obviously is just needs that little bit of a push now, like Northampton did.

“The manager has the backing of the chairman, and it is about getting the right players in and pushing on from where we are.”

‘I loved every minute of my time at Northampton’ - more with Joel Byrom in next Thursday’s Chronicle & Echo