STEP BACK IN SPORTING TIME... 2003 - Terry Fenwick is named Cobblers manager

It's January, 2003... Kevan Broadhurst is sacked as Northampton Town manager, and is replaced by former England defender Terry Fenwick. Who just happened to be an old pal of new chairman Andrew Ellis...

Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:49 pm
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 12:52 pm
Terry Fenwick replaced Kevan Broadhurst as Cobblers boss (Picture: Pete Norton)
Terry Fenwick replaced Kevan Broadhurst as Cobblers boss (Picture: Pete Norton)

We hit the Chron archive to look back on the story, and find out what the main players were saying at the time... stories from 2003 by Jeremy Casey

It goes without saying that when your team loses 5-0 at home there could be ramifications... and that proved to be the case for Cobblers boss Kevan Broadhurst back in January, 2003.

But there was a lot more to this particular story than simply a team getting a home hiding from Wycombe Wanderers.

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Cobblers chairman Andrew Ellis (left) welcomes Terry Fenwick to Sixfields (Picture: Pete Norton)

Broadhurst had done a great job as Cobblers boss.

Working on a shoestring budget, the former assistant boss to Ian Atkins and Kevin Wilson had inspired a ‘great escape’ just a few months earlier, somehow steering the Cobblers from nine points adrift of safety to staying in Nationwide League Division Two.

The 2002-03 campaign had been okay, and although Town were battered 5-0 by the Chairboys on January 4 - just three days earlier they had won 2-1 at Barnsley, and on December 28 had claimed a creditable goalless draw at Peterborough United.

The Cobblers were sitting fairly pretty in 15th place in division two, but Broadhurst’s days were numbered.

Kevan Broadhurst was sacked with the Cobblers mid-table in the third tier of English football (Picture: Pete Norton)

Andrew Ellis was the frontman for the consortium who bought the club in December, 2002, and as chairman it was his call to dispense of Broadhurst... before hiring an old pal Terry Fenwick as manager just hours later.

That was a decision that wasn’t to prove the wisest, but we can focus on that on another day...

This week, we will focus on the sacking of Broadhurst and hiring of Fenwick, starting with the thoughts of the outgoing manager...

‘We have moved in right direction’

Girls Aloud were number one in the singles charts with Sound Of The Underground

January 6, 2003 - sacked Cobblers boss Kevan Broadhurst

‘I WOULD have been a successful manager with Northampton Town.’

That was the defiant message from Kevan Broadhurst after learning he had been sacked as the Cobblers boss.

The 5-0 defeat against Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend proved to be the final straw for the club’s new chairman, Andrew Ellis.

Avril Lavigne was top of the UK albums chart

He informed Broadhurst on Monday afternoon that he had been ‘relieved of his duties’, and the man who rescued the club from relegation against all the odds last season admitted: “I think I deserved some time.

“I am disappointed and I don’t think I deserve it, although Saturday’s result didn’t help.

“Generally there have been one or two games where players have been under par, and we have had some poor performances, but that is to be expected.

“I feel that we have moved in the right direction, it was only last week that we won at Barnsley and drew at Peterborough.

“I understand that games before that weren’t great so I haven’t buried my head in the sand, but I do think that I deserved some time.

“The heavy defeats have been a problem, but there have been far worse things that happen at football clubs.”

It is only eight days since Ellis very publicly backed Broadhurst, stating: “Kevan Broadhurst is and will remain our manager.

“The squad has been suffering from a terrible run of injuries lately and we as a board have every confidence in Kevan.

“I must stress this is genuine support for the manager and not the dreaded vote of confidence.”

Well, those words have a pretty hollow ring to them now, and Broadhurst said: “Two weeks ago I was one of the best managers in the league, and now I am out of a job.”

The Cobblers job was Broadhurst’s first solo managerial position, and he admitted that although it has all ended on a sour note, he has revelled in the responsibility.

“I have loved every minute of it and I think I have brought something to the club that was lacking,” he said.

“I picked up a bad situation and I don’t think many people would have got them out of the hole they were in last season.

“I am proud of that and very proud of the players and the way they did it.

“This season we have tried to progress with a lesser budget and it takes time. I have always said it was a two year job, well I haven’t been given two years.

“There are general little things I might have done differently, but I don’t think there’s anything major.”

Broadhurst leaves the Cobblers in 15th place in Nationwide League Division Two, five points above the relegation zone.

‘We are not going to get relegated...’

January 6, 2003 - Cobblers chairman Andrew Ellis

ANDREW ELLIS has admitted that sacking Kevan Broadhurst is one of the most difficult decisions he has ever had to make.

Chairman Ellis relieved Broadhurst of his managerial duties in a telephone call between the pair on Monday, and he said: “It has been a very difficult day and not one I have enjoyed in the slightest.

“It was very difficult and one of the worst decisions I have ever had to make.

“Not only do I personally like Kevan, I do think he is good at what he does but sometimes in football you do need changes.

“The players didn’t, in my opinion, show Kevan the respect on Saturday. The players have to take a large slice of the blame.”

Since taking over the club at the start of December, Ellis has seen the team lose four times in a row at Sixfields, with the solitary win in eight games at Barnsley on New Year’s Day.

Saturday’s 5-0 beating at the hands of Wycombe was the final nail in Broadhurst’s managerial coffin, with Ellis saying: “I think when you are thumped 5-0 at home and you look at what you are conceding, something had to give.

“Things build up and one thing that’s not going to happen is that we are not going to be a third division football team.

“There is no two ways about that, and whatever it takes to stop that, whatever changes need to be made will be made, because we are not going to get relegated.

“The club, the town, nobody can afford that, so if it means making a decision that keeps the club in the second division then it will be made.”

The decision to sack Broadhurst was made by Ellis, deputy chairman Ken Good and board ‘observer’ David Cardoza.

Former chairman Barry Stonhill, Barry Hancock nor Tony Clarke were involved, with Ellis insisting there was little choice but to make a change.

“You have to look at results, and the results speak for themselves,” he said.

“We have lost 4-0 to Tranmere at home, 4-0 at Stockport, we got knocked out of the FA Cup and then we get thumped 5-0 at home by Wycombe who were only a place above us in the league.

“Unfortunately in football you live and die by the sword. This is not a knee-jerk reaction.

"I thought a corner had been turned with the draw at Peterborough and the win at Barnsley and I thought things could be quite exciting.

“But as soon as you get hit for five at home that is unacceptable, and unfortunately it is the manager who gets the blame for it.”

'I feel for Kevan, I’ve been in that position myself, but that’s the nature of the game'

January 7, 2003 - newly appointed Cobblers boss Terry Fenwick

NEW Cobblers boss Terry Fenwick breezed into freezing Sixfields and immediately warmed to the task of making a success of what he sees as a ‘wonderful opportunity’ to get back into English football management.

The former England, Queens Park Rangers and Tottenham Hotspur defender has left behind the sunshine and heat of Trinidad where was in charge of national league champions CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh Sports to take the reins at Sixfields.

The former Portsmouth manager takes over a Cobblers team sitting mid-table in Nationwide League Division Two, but reeling from a run of just one win in eight games and a 5-0 pasting at the hands of Wycombe Wanderers at the weekend.

Kevan Broadhurst paid the price for the team’s poor run of form with his job on Monday night, and although Fenwick sympathises with the ex-Cobblers boss, he can’t wait to get stuck into his new job.

“The nature of the game is such that we’re all in it to be successful but very few can be,” said Fenwick.

“I feel for Kevan, I’ve been in that position myself but again that’s the nature of the game. If results aren’t right then changes will be made. So I am pleased to be here and glad to be back in English football.

“I’ve had a wonderful two years out in Trinidad, but it is good to be back and I think this is a wonderful opportunity for me.

“I am pleased to be on board with Northampton Town as I think the club has a bright future.”

Fenwick admitted he had learned from his mistakes during his previous managerial post in England.

The 43-year-old was sacked after a mixed three-year spell with Portsmouth, but he insisted there had been plenty of positives to come out of his stint at Fratton Park.

“I have learned from that experience,” said Fenwick, who won 20 caps for England, including four during the 1986 World Cup Finals.

“I produced a lot of very good footballers at Portsmouth and they accumulated £8.5 million for the club over the course of three years through youth development.

“That will continue here at Northampton, although hopefully we will be able to hang on to a few players and get ourselves into the higher divisions.”

Fenwick is familiar with the Town players, having watched the FA Cup replay defeat to Cambridge United and the 0-0 derby draw at Peterborough United.

“We have to stop the rot here first and then from there we have to build a very solid background the club and then progress from there,” he said.

‘I think this is the first step for me ending up at Manchester United...’

January 7, 2003 - newly appointed Cobblers boss Terry Fenwick

TODAY Northampton Town, tomorrow Manchester United... that is the ambition that drives new Cobblers boss Terry Fenwick.

The 43-year-old took up his place in the Sixfields hot-seat and immediately revealed that he is determined to get to the top in English football management.

“I have ambitions and I think this is the first step for me to ending up with Manchester United,” said Fenwick, tongue only half in cheek.

“That’s what I’ve got to look at and that’s my ambition. These guys (the board) have not only put a lot of time effort into this club, they’ve also put a lot of money into this situation as well and they are looking for success.

“So I have got to be the front man for that and make sure it comes to this club.”

Fenwick also revealed that he has been a friend of Cobblers chairman Andrew Ellis for many years, and that he doesn’t intend letting his new boss down.

“We have been friends for a long time, since my QPR days really,” said Fenwick. “Andrew and I have kept in touch... and he’s kept me right in the frame of everything.”

What else was going on in the world in January, 2003?

National news... January 7, 2003

TONY BLAIR was today issuing a bleak warning of the dangers of failing to tackle Iraq’s arsenal of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

In a speech to British ambassadors gathered in London, the Prime Minister will say that the world will “ rue the consequences of our weakness” unless Saddam Hussein is disarmed.

And he will underline his determination to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President George Bush as America’s closest ally in the current standoff with Baghdad.

RICKY Gervais, star of BBC sitcom The Office, has been voted the most influential figure in British comedy.

Gervais beat fellow comedians Steve Coogan and Graham Norton in the Radio Times list today, which took into account ratings, critical acclaim, and financial success.

Jonathan Ross, Frank Skinner and Peter Kay all made the list, along with Kathy Burke, Ant and Dec and Sacha Baron Cohen – alias Ali G

Northampton news... January 7, 2003

CALLS have been made for the public to decide whether a huge canopy should be erected over Northampton’s historic Market Square.

Borough council officials are drawing up plans to redesign the outdoor marketandgive shoppers shelter under a £4 million tentlike cover.

Opposition councillors said that the public should have the final say on such an important issue in the first referendum the town has seen since the 1980s.

Councillor Richard Church, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said: “These are very radical proposalswhicharebound to be very controversial. People in Northampton feel passionate about their Market Square, which is the largest in England, and are very concerned about what will happen to it.

“We must make sure that we take the public with us. Weshould look back to 1987 when we last had a referendum.”

More than 15 years ago, Northampton people were called on to vote on plans to replace the cobbles in the MarketSquare with brick paving.

The public voted to put new granite slabs around the edge of the square and NBC carried out their wish.

Music and movies... January, 2003

UK top five singles - January 12, 2003

1: Girls Aloud - Sound Of The Underground

2: Electric Six - Danger High Voltage

3: Eminem - Lose Yourself

4: Daniel Bedingfield - If You’re Not The One

5: Divine Inspiration - The Way (Put Your Hand In My Hand)

UK top five albums - January 12, 2003

1: Avril Lavigne - Let Go

2: Pink - Missundaztood

3: Robbie Williams - Escapology

4: Daniel Bedingfield - Gotta Get Thru This

5: Red Hot Chili Peppers - By The Way

UK Box Office number one film

The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

What happened next?...

Terry Fenwick had to wait until January 18 to take charge of his first Cobblers match at Blackpool... and despite taking the lead through Darryn Stamp, the team was beaten 2-1 thanks a last-minute Seasiders winner.

Things didn’t get much better after that either, but we will save that story for another day...