Northampton Town: Cobblers old boys to turn out for Phillips

editorial image

THE chance to sup a pint or two with mine host and a posse of-Cobblers players and the chance to wallow in a few footballing memories is the offer on the table at the King’s Head in Spratton tomorrow evening from 8.30pm.

New landlord Steve Phillips, who took over the running of the village hostelry last autumn along with his partner Gail, has organised something of a nostalgia night after contacting many of his local ex-team mates in the area.

Phillips, 57, who has spent the last 13 years running Inchy’s Bar in Benalmadena in Spain, says he would be delighted to see any Cobblers fans for the evening, which he has chosen to coincide with the opening of a Sportsmans Bar which proudly displays an impressive range of signed and framed shirts.

Phillips said: “During the time I spent at the bar in Spain, a lot of footballers used to regularly drop in such as Kenny Burns and Trevor Francis from my time at Birmingham City.

“I have acquired a number of signed shirts over the years which are all now hanging in the new bar and pool room.

“It is not just all about football, as the memorabilia also stretches to rugby, golf, horse racing and practically anything you can imagine.

“They include shirts signed by Paul Gascoigne, Alan Shearer and Willie Johnston from football, while there are golf items signed by all the winners of the Majors last year such as Rory McIlroy.”

Popular ex-Cobblers players such as Jim Hall, Stuart Robertson, Paul Stratford, Derrick Christie, Dave Carlton, Wakeley Gage, Steve Bryant, Gary Sargent, Keith Bowen and Dennis Byatt are all expected to put in an appearance tomorrow...

“I have been in touch with a number of my old team mates at the County Ground and have also paid a few visits to Sixfields already.

“I recently spoke to the likes of Billy Best, Gary Mabee and Ian Benjamin at the game against another of my old clubs Southend, and would be delighted for as many as possible to come along on Saturday.”

Looking at the current side’s plight he said: “The important thing for the side now is that they all stick together and generate belief in what they are doing.

“This is what they need to put the sort of necessary run together to stay in the Football League.”

The former midfield man-cum striker scored 200 goals in 562 league appearances during a career which stretched from his time with Birmingham City in the 1971/72 season to a brief finale at Chesterfield, some 16 seasons later, numbering eight league clubs in total.

In between times, the Londoner had two spells with the Cobblers, notably between 1975-77 during which time he proved a key figure in the Bill Dodgin Division Four promotion team behind Graham Taylor’s Lincoln City, and again in 1980-82.

He was also the Football League’s top scorer for Brentford in 1977-78 and was equally as clinical again in his marksmanship for Southend, who he played for between 1982-1986.

His career was remarkably for its durability and consistency in appearances and goals.

In 1980/81 he missed just one game for the Cobblers, and this after three successive campaigns for Brentford when he proved an ever-present.

At the outset, Phillips became Birmingham’s second youngest ever debutant in a 3-2 division two victory over Carlisle which was featured on Match Of The Day and saw him make an instant impact after coming on as a substitute.

“It was late in the game, but the crowd saw this little teenager in baggy shorts taking the ball into the corner to waste time,” he said.

Phillips also scored his only division one goal – perversely a header for a striker who stood at just 5ft 6ins – at White Hart Lane in a 4-2 defeat by Spurs – just a few hundred yards from where he was born and brought up.

He can also lay claim to scoring the first ever ‘Golden Goal’ to decide an international tournament, his extra-time volley during the 1973 ‘Mini World Cup’ at Fiorentina’s ground in Italy clinching a 3-2 win for England Under 18s after East Germany had hauled their way back from 2-0 down and ‘Inchy’, as he was first dubbed by Robertson, came on as a substitute.

He still has his winner’s medal from that tournament along with four caps, from warm-up games along with substitute appearances against Italy in the semi-final and then East Germany.

Phillips recalled: “Our team included players such as Steve Powell of Derby County, Brian Hornsby of Arsenal and Ray Hankin at Burnley.”

Now settling down in the area, Phillips and partner Gail are anxious to popularise their Spratton pub, already delivering a range of home-made meals while opening up a coffee shop in afternoons.