Wing wizard Ricky Holmes believes a ‘winning mentality’ instilled as early as pre-season laid the foundation for Cobblers’ surge to the League Two crown.
Northampton produced promising performances against Championship sides Birmingham City and Derby County in pre-season but Holmes revealed failure to win either match came as disappointment for a group of players who are desperate to win every game.
That winning mentality continued into the season and after a sticky start, which saw them lose three times in the opening six games, the Cobblers have been beaten just twice in the last 36 outings.
It’s a run of form which no other League Two side has been able to live with as Northampton were crowned champions on Saturday following a goalless draw with Exeter City.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Holmes. “We’ve crept over the line in recent weeks but it’s been tough.
“Exeter are a hard team to play against because they keep the ball and make you work hard and I thought we did enough to win the game but it wasn’t to be.
“We had to wait again to see if results went our away and we’ve been so consistent and while every other team seems to drop points, we just don’t do that unless it’s a draw.
“We’re a group who’ve got a winning mentality and the gaffer said that in pre-season when we were disappointed that we didn’t Birmingham or Derby who are Championship teams.
“That’s when the winning mentality started and we’ve kept that going all season.
“The run keeps going and now we’ve got four more games, hopefully we can win them all and get over the 100-point mark.”
Holmes has had an explosive impact since returning from injury in December, so much so that he made the three-man shortlist for the League Two’s Player of the Season prize at last night’s Football League Awards.
He didn’t scoop the overall award, that went to Oxford United’s Kemar Roofe, but Holmes says he’s just part of a collective effort.
He added: “I’ve done my fair share but so has everyone else, even the lads who’ve come off the bench and haven’t featured as much.
“Everyone has had a role to play and we’re such a tight-knit group and I think people are getting overlooked.
“Adam Smith has been a revelation this season but I haven’t heard his name much and there could be a number of candidates.
“It’s nice to be recognised by managers in the league but I think Roofe probably deserved it because he’s been brilliant all season and has scored a lot of goals.
“But I’m not too fussed to be honest.”