After leading his side to promotion on a joyous afternoon at Sixfields on Saturday, Northampton manager Chris Wilder reflected on the troubling events pre-Christmas which acted as the catalyst for the club’s unparalleled success this season.
The jubilant scenes which greeted the full-time whistle after Saturday’s draw against Bristol Rovers, confirming Town’s promotion, were a far cry from the more sombre emotions experienced back in the Autumn.
With the club in financial meltdown and players and staff unpaid, there was the all too real possibility that the season would be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
Standing on the brink of extinction, it was only Kelvin Thomas’ takeover, a matter of days prior to a High Court hearing, that prevented Northampton from going under.
During those dark times, Northampton’s players, staff and fans united as one to defy the odds and go on an unlikely charge up the table, swatting away rival after rival.
There was no let up after Thomas’ takeover, either, as the Cobblers then went on a 10-game winning run to reach the League Two summit before they gradually pulled away from the chasing pack.
Recent results have been more hard-fought but Northampton remain unbeaten in 19 games – a run that stretches all the way back to before Christmas – and they finally clinched promotion to League One on Saturday.
“I think you can look back at moments right the way through the season,” said Wilder.
“Players have produced fantastic performances but I’ve got to say that the survival of the football club is the biggest result we’ve ever had.
“This club will survive and it will have promotions and it might have a relegation that comes round - hopefully not very soon - but this club has to keep going for another 100 years.
“We were very, very close to not having this football club and for that to happen was a real serious situation.
“But everybody showed why they’re about and showed their true colours.
“It’s a proud old football club and it needs to be looked after and I’m sure it will be by Kelvin, and for me, that was the biggest result.
“Saturday was another to go alongside it and hopefully when – and I’m sure we will do – win the league, that’ll be another thing to add to that.”
Not only did the players produced battling performance after battling performance during those tough times, the club’s staff and fans also pulled together as one to play their part in a truly remarkable season that will never be forgotten.
“We just do our jobs to the best of our abilities,” continued Wilder.
“We’ve got great staff at this football club and we work very closely together.
“It’s not about me, it’s not about Alan (Knill) or any of the staff, it’s about the group and the football club and that’s how it is.
“Through the period where we weren’t getting paid, we had proper people at the football club.
“The players had their issue and they got that sorted but we had people who weren’t getting paid for two or three months, people who’ve been here a long time and that shows how much they care and how they feel about this club.
“There’s good people around the football club, proper people that care and want the club to do well and survive, and when it does go well, we’ll all enjoy it like we did on Saturday and we will do in the coming weeks and months.
“And the support also - Coventry in the FA Cup was a big day when we were close to going and took 2,500 fans there and won.
“In a day where there’s no connection between fans and players in the Premier League, there’s not a sniff of that here and I would not allow that to happen because it’s a group effort.”