Huddersfield Town 5-0 Northampton Town – 6th November 1979.
A peculiarly swift second match-up of the season brought the Cobblers to Leeds Road to face top of the table Huddersfield Town looking to repeat their performance of a fortnight previously. That Tuesday night, the Terriers had suffered something of a humbling, falling 4-2 to a side who enjoyed their fifth consecutive home win.
The Terriers, meanwhile, had returned to the top of the Fourth Division with a 2-2 draw with York City, former Huddersfield man Terry Eccles grabbing one of the visitors’ goals. Manager Mick Buxton noted the dip in form, admitting that his side were ‘going through a transitional period, a learning period’ and not playing as well as they might do.
Buxton’s side might have been under transition, but a familiar XI was already in place. Alan Starling started in goal, behind a back four of Malcolm Brown, Fred Robinson, David Sutton and Chris Topping. Brian Stanton and Peter Hart occupied the midfield along with David Cowling and Micky Laverick, with Peter Fletcher and Ian Robins up top. It was still a month or so before Steve Kindon was to join the Terriers, so the substitute was usually Bernard Purdie or Ian Holmes.
The Cobblers could count amongst their starting line-up Phil Sandercock, who had spent the previous two years at Leeds Road, and were beginning to look upwards under the stewardship of Clive Walker after relegation from Division Three in 1977.
Despite their defeat at the County Ground a couple of weeks before, the Terriers went into this game as favourites. Their only home defeat had come against Portsmouth, while Northampton were yet to win away from home in their eight attempts, winning just one point in those games.
The little blip in Buxton’s side had caused something of a log-jam in the middle reaches of the table. While Portsmouth were level on 26 points, as many as 10 sides were within 6 points at kick off on the Tuesday evening. Vultures were beginning to circle and had not gone un-noticed.
The closest of those, in every sense of the word, would cross Huddersfield’s path in fairly short order – as Saturday 10th November would bring a trip to Valley Parade, with only £1.05 stand tickets available by this point.
On the Tuesday evening, Northampton were blown away. Within a little over quarter of an hour, they were 3-0 down. Cowling continued his fine form with a sixth goal in seven games after just nine minutes, which Ian Robins added to immediately.
The two-nil deficit became three soon after when Micky Laverick got his third of the season, the match over before half time. Robins and Sutton added to the total in the second half to complete a 5-0 rout that more than made up for the defeat in Northamptonshire that played on Buxton’s mind before kick-off.
What Happened Next?
Well, the thrashing of Northampton kept Town top of the league for the trip to Bradford, which was drawn 0-0. It was undeniably a poor spell for the side, who went four games without a win before Boxing Day. And yet having dropped to third over Christmas, the Terriers lost just once after the turn of the year – to Portsmouth again, and went on to storm to a historic promotion.
101 goals in the season remains a club record, as does 61 at home, and the 16 home victories matched the Terriers’ best ever as well.
For Northampton, this was the third of a ten year spell in the bottom tier, and one that was typified by disappointing away performances. The Cobblers failed to win on the road until March and ended with just two victories away from the County Ground. Their respectable home record lifted them to 13th position but it took the arrival of Graham Carr to take them back to Division Three.