Chris Wilder was almost overcome by emotion after his side were confirmed as League Two champions as the Cobblers boss lauded the ‘unbelievable effort’ from fans, players and staff alike in this ‘incredible’ season.
Northampton were held to a goalless draw by Exeter City on Saturday afternoon but results elsewhere, specifically Oxford’s defeat to Luton and Accrington’s draw with Morecambe, meant Northampton could finally celebrate lifting the title.
That draw to Exeter was Cobblers’ 20th successive game unbeaten and 14th match without defeat on the road, a new club record.
Wilder was close to tears after full-time as the enormity of what he and his players have achieved sunk in.
“They could have scored, we could have scored but I’m not sure what to say to be honest,” he said.
“I’m taken aback with the reception. What everybody’s done here and achieved this season has been amazing and we’ll only look back in a long, long time and realise what a special group we’ve got and what a special club we’ve got.
“We’ve been put through the mill but we’ve all stood firm.
“It’s emotional because you work extremely hard to get to situations like we have today and to take 1,000 supporters to Exeter is incredible.
“The fans have been the most vital of everything we’ve achieved because they’ve backed us home and away, up and down the country at places like Notts County and Coventry.
“We’ve been on an incredible journey and they’ve witnessed something a bit special this season.
“We’ve won in all different ways - we’ve won playing well, won coming from behind, won when we’ve been down to 10 men and that’s the character of these boys and the character of the club.”
Wilder has experienced promotion before when taking Oxford to Wembley glory six years ago, and when asked where this achievement ranks, he said: “It’s absolutely up there.
“I’ve had a promotion at Wembley and that was a great feeling but to win a championship at any level takes some doing and to do it the way we’ve had to do it is quite remarkable.
“It was another strange situation today. Exeter a team bang in form, they hit the post twice and we’ve missed two or three really good chances, but again we were waiting at the end to see what results would come in and thankfully we can really enjoy this weekend.
“This is a massive, massive group effort, from everyone at the club, and it’s been an unbelievable effort and everyone should be very proud of their efforts.”