Cobblers boss Stuart Gray

COBBLERS QUIZ: Just for fun... looking back to the encouraging 2007/08 season, and the arrival of a club legend!

Welcome to the latest of our regular quizzes focusing on a season in the Cobblers' not too distant past.

By Jeremy Casey
Friday, 1st May 2020, 2:00 pm

Sport is on lockdown for the foreseeable future and the Cobblers, like every other sports team in the country, are currently sat on the sidelines

So for those of you looking for a little bit of a football fix, we at the Chron are putting together a regular little quiz, focusing on a Town campaign of the past - and it's just a bit of fun.

Today, we are heading to the season from summer 2007 to May, 2008.

Having done a good job to steer the Cobblers away from the relegation zone to mid-table security in the second half of the previous season, Stuart Gray set about properly putting his stamp on the club.

The summer saw the departure of three experienced players in Ian Taylor, Sean Dyche and Eoin Jess, who all retired, while coming into the club were, among others, Danny Jackman, Giles Coke and Poul Hubertz.

Gray was keen to use the contacts he had built up during his time as manager of and on the coaching staff at Southampton, Aston Villa and Wolves, and decided he was going to be a big user of the loan market to bring in the quality he wanted.

That is always a hit and miss system, but in fairness to Gray, he had more hits than misses in his first full season in charge, temporarily bringing in the likes of Daniel Jones, Mark Little, Dean Bowditch, Jonny Hayes and Alex Russell, who all had an impact.

But it was the permanent signing of one man in the January transfer window that was to have more impact on the club than anything else Gray did in his time at Sixfields.

After a five-match losing run in December, Town were again flirting with the relegation zone as they dropped to 19th in the league one table.

But Gray kept his nerve, stuck to his passing football guns.

The results slowly started to improve, with a 4-1 pre-Christmas hammering of Bournemouth a highlight, but when Town were thumped 3-0 at Leeds United at the beginning of January, the doubts were again creeping in.

Gray decided he needed to beef up his attack, so he took what looked a real gamble by offloading top-scorer Andy Kirk to Yeovil, and in his place signing injury-jinxed striker Adebayo Akinfenwa on a free transfer from Millwall... and the rest is history.

Akinfenwa scored to secure a 1-1 draw on his debut at Swindon Town, and week later came off the bench at Sixfields to bundle in an equaliser as Town drew 1-1 with the mighty Leeds United.

The legend of Bayo was born!

He scored twice in his next game as the Cobblers shredded Gillingham 4-0, and things were looking up.

Town were still inconsistent, but they scored a series of significant wins - including a thrilling 4-2 win over champions-elect Swansea City - to ease up the table, eventually finishing ninth as they ended the season with a six-match unbeaten run.

It was an excellent first campaign at the helm for Gray as he secured the club's highest league placing since Ian Atkins' play-off finalists of 1998. The hard part would now be following that up...

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