FEATURE: Homegrown McWilliams brothers hoping they can continue to create Cobblers history
When Shaun McWilliams was joined by younger brother Camron for the second half of Tuesday's Checkatrade Trophy win over Fulham U21s, they created their own little piece of Cobblers history.
Not since all the way back in 1933 have two brothers played together on the same pitch at the same time in a competitive game for Northampton.
Back then, it was Albert and Fred Dawes wearing Cobblers claret.
This time, it was the turn of the McWilliams boys to take centre stage.
“I’m very proud of that achievement,” said Camron after making his debut for the club on Tuesday. “It was a very proud moment for me.
“I’m proud of myself and I’d like to thank everybody who’s helped me get this far and get me in the squad with my brother – mum, dad, previous managers, Jon Brady for giving me the chance and also my physio and sports scientist who helped me get back to full fitness.”
Shaun is no stranger to the first-team environment these days but, for a local boy from a local family, to take to the field alongside his teenage brother was still a proud moment.
“It felt good to play with my brother,” he said. “It was a big night for all the family and they always enjoy coming to watch, especially when we’re both on the pitch.
“I think it brings the family together and they like to see our achievement but we want to continue now and make them even more proud.
“It comes from the heart. We’ve got people out there who want to represent the badge and it just creates a better environment if you’re playing in front of friends and family, and it’s always nice for the fans to be a local lad.”
With another two brothers currently on the books at Aston Villa, the remarkably talented McWilliams clan are not done yet.
Shaun added: “It runs in the family! They’re young so they’re only in the academy but we’re a bit older now and obviously I’m in the professional team and Camron is pushing to get into the team.
“You never know, you might seem them here one day, but for now they’re at in the academy at Villa and I wish the best for them there.”
While Shaun is now well known by supporters, having rapidly established himself as a key member of the first-team squad, Camron has steadily risen through the youth ranks, first coming to people’s attention with his fine performance against Manchester United U23s in a pre-season friendly.
If his progression is anywhere near as impressive and as swift as his older brother, seeing two McWilliams’s on the team sheet will soon be a regular occurrence.
Indeed, had it not been for a long-term foot injury, he might have been in earlier.
“It’s been a long three months but I’ve kept going at it and always looked to the future and now I’m happy to be back,” the 17-year-old added.
“I fractured my left foot. My brother has been a big help. He’s taken me places and to training and back and he’s done whatever I’ve asked of him.”
On for Aaron Pierre at half-time, Camron played at right-back in the second half of Tuesday’s 2-0 win over Fulham.
“I’d say my strongest position is either right-back or left-back,” he explained.
“But if the gaffer asks me to play anywhere, I’ll do a job.
“Hopefully I can get myself on the score sheet at some point and get a few assists.”
Shaun and Camron are far from the only talented youth players emerging from the academy. Joe Iaciofano and Sean Whaler also entered the action on Tuesday, while Jay Williams played the full 90 minutes and Morgan Roberts was an unused substitute.
“The youth team this year are doing very well,” Shaun continued. “
I can’t remember the last time we had a youth team that hadn’t lost this far into the season.
“Quite a few were involved on Tuesday and that just shows what talent we’ve got and what they’re doing is paying off. The gaffer has belief in them and isn’t afraid to put them on the pitch.”
And is there any rivalry with his younger sibling?
“There’s always a bit of banter outside of football and in changing room,” he said.
“But once you step over the line you have a job to do and then maybe we can have a laugh afterwards - if we play well and the team wins!”