The Midland League held it's AGM at the end of May 1900, Barnsley had withdrawn from the League and there was an intention to increase the league to 18 clubs, Sheffield United Reserves joined, as did Hinckley, Worksop Town, and Coalville Town. Leicester Fosse Res applied for re-election and remained in the League, but at the meeting Kettering, who were duly honoured with the Championship, flag and goal medals. It therefore came as a bombshell later in the meeting, during the election of clubs, when Mr J. T. Smith of Kettering asked to be allowed to withdraw his club from membership a they had been accepted into the Southern League. The minutes from that meeting stated "the announcement came as a great surprise to the members present". Kettering had given no prior indication of the move and indeed had voted upon matters for the coming season. It was regarded as "trifling with the league" and it was unanimously resolved that Kettering be severely censured for gross misconduct and forfeit its deposit to the league. Therefor the league was to consist of 14 teams.
At the annual meeting of the Northants FA it was decided to ask the senior clubs in the County to play for the Northants Senior Cup in order to raise funds for the Northants FA which was having financial problems. Four sides were invited, Northampton, Kettering, Wellingborough and Rushden. The Cobblers were drawn against Wellingborough.
Northampton were to play in both the Midland League and the United League, and United League fixtures against Finedon and Rothwell would be fulfilled by the reserve team.
The prospects for the coming season were considered and there were a few new faces at the County Ground, Johnstone was a full back from Scotland, he was signed from Stockport having played for Clyde, Sunderland (and was a member of their Championship winning side) and Aston Villa. Dick Murrell joined the Club from Wellingboro and was to prove to be a great servant to the club, he remained as a player for five seasons and from 1905-1911 he was Club trainer, he was granted a Club benefit and in 1911 he followed Herbert Chapman to Leeds. James Frost, born in Wolverton, was just 19 when he signed for Town and remained until December 1906, when he was transferred to Chelsea, he was later to turn out for West Ham and Clapton Orient. Tom Scrivens was a forward who had been with Walsall, Wellingborough and Small Heath (Birmingham). Pendred was a forward from Rushden but his stay with Town was a short one and after the season he returned to Rushden.
With the prospect of some excellent fixtures for the forthcoming season, the club's officers expected a corresponding improvement in support. With an eye to the Clubs finances the Daily Reporter commented thus "to football clubs, and especially to professional organisations this has been a difficult nut to crack. Northampton, in common with hundreds of other clubs, have not escaped and they commence season 1900/01 with a total indebtedness and deficiency of over £300. The committee have not lost any time grappling with this matter and happily there is every prospect of a speedy reduction in the amount. Furthermore the committee are curtailing their expenses for the present season and whereas there were 22 men drawing wages at one time last year. There will only be a dozen or 13 this season. In addition, the reserve team, which last year incurred a loss of £150 to the club, will composed entirely of amateurs. The success of the Club, however, to a large extent depend on the support of the public and this must be largely increased before the organisation is a paying concern. Last year £560-13s-7d was received in gate money (while satisfactory) it was set against a wage bill of £736-2s-7d
Season ticket details were announced:- Members tickets (incl entrance to carpeted stand) - 10s Lady's tickets ( " " " " ) - 5s Reserve side - 5s Entry to league games - 4d (minimum laid down by Midland League) transfer to end stand - 3d
The season was due to start on September 1st and Town were to travel to Wellingborough, a special train was laid on leaving Castle Station at 2.5pm, stopping at Bridge St at 2.8pm, and returning at 8.15. The fare was 1s 3d. 600 fans travelled to Wellingboro, who saw Cobblers go down 2-1, in the Wellingborough side was Frank "Waff" Howard who had decided to leave Derby and Wellingborough were quick to obtain his services. Cobblers travelled again the following week to Ilkeston, in the corresponding fixture the previous season we had lost 3-0, but goals from Scrivens and Murrell gave Town their first win of the new campaign. There was the opportunity to gain revenge over Wellingboro as Town again travelled the following monday to the Dog & Duck, this time in the NSC, Scrivens hit two, and Frost a third as Town won 3-2. The 15th of September was FA Cup day (1st qualifying round) but Town were exempt to the 3rd qualifying round and were without a game. The County Ground first saw action on 22nd September. Coalville Town were the visitors and were on the receiving end of a 7-0 thrashing with Scrivens hitting a hat-trick.
On October 20th, FA Cup holders Bury came to Northampton to play a friendly. The club had to pay a considerable guarantee to the Cup holders to get them to attend and therefore the Executive Committee needed a large crowd to clear themselves. Bury were regarded as one of the best clubs in the Country and were bringing their full team. The Daily Reporter made much of Town's progress in the footballing world, that a team as young as NTFC (only in it's fourth season) could attract such sides as Derby, Sheffield United and Bury to the County Ground in three successive seasons. Bury brought the FA Cup with them to Northampton. A good attendance saw Cobblers defeated 4-1 with Frost getting Town's goal. Two days later (on the monday) Cobblers played in the Senior Cup Final at the County Ground. Kettering were the opponents. Kettering took the lead but Town went 2-1 up through Stewart and Scrivens who got his seventh goal of the season. Kettering equalised and then went ahead through a Warner own goal, and in the final minutes Kettering added a fourth which judging by the report was a very flattering scoreline. Kettering's equalising goal came thanks to a howler by Town's 'keeper, Bullimer, instead of picking the ball up from a soft shot he tried to kick it, missed it completely and the ball rolled in. He had an indifferent game was subsequently dropped for the following fixture against Leicester Fosse Reserves which was won 5-1 in which Scrivens scored what was to prove his last goal in football. The monday saw the opening United League fixture, as Cobblers travelled again to Wellingboro, only to lose 3-2.
Saturday 3rd November was the 3rd Qualifying Round for the FA Cup, and Cobblers had to travel to Hinckley, a side already beaten in a friendly. A special train was being run to Hinckley, leaving at 12.45 and costing 2s. Town lost 2-0 and were severely handicapped by the loss of Scrivens when he collided with Hinckley's goalkeeper. Monday's Daily Reporter criticised the referee, at one point after Scriven's injury, 4 Northampton players and 2 Hinckley helped Scrivens from the pitch, meanwhile the referee recommenced play without them. There were no ambulances available and after the game finished, Scrivens, whose injury appeared severe, had to be carried back to the station on a stretcher, he went to Northampton Infirmary on his return. He had a broken leg, and never played again. And so Town's involvement in the FA Cup was over at the first hurdle.
Co-incidentally Hinckley were Cobblers next opponents, they were to travel to Northampton for a Midland League fixture. The Hinckley team were coming by train, via Blisworth. Five members of the team changed at Blisworth but the other six, for some reason, went on to Bletchley and at 2.30 when the game should have kicked off there were only the five Hinckley players present. The committee waited until 3.15 but the missing six failed to arrive. The referee ordered the game to start and Cobblers 'keeper, Whiting, dribbled the ball down the field and into the net. The five Hinckley players had not taken the field. This matter was to be reported to the Midland League Executive Committee for them to decide to award the game to Town or order a replay. The league subsequently ordered a replay. The 300 remaining supporters were offered refunds or tickets for the next home game. Another couple of United League fixtures were played, the second of which (home to Rushden) saw a goal from Miller who had re-signed to replace Scrivens. On November 24th Town were away at Lincoln City Reserves, the newspaper, in its preview, described the journey to Lincoln as "long and tedious", its strange how some things never change! The game, however, could not have been described as tedious, Town went into a 2-0 lead but at half time Lincoln had come back to lead 3-2. But three second half goals saw Town win a thrilling game by 5-3. Another five goals were hit the following week and Rushden were the recipients of a 5-2 thrashing. Town had led by five at half-time. For the third week running five goals were hit unfortunately it was Town on the receiving end as Leicester Fosse Reserves ran out 5-3 winners. Leicester included a number of first team players in their team, the senior side without a fixture that day. The following week Town got back to winning ways with a "double" over Ilkeston but on Christmas Eve, Town were to lose their unbeaten home record as Doncaster came and left with both points in a 2-0 win.
Unfortunately, the Christmas period was badly reported in the newspapers and I was unable to discover the result of the result of the United League fixture against Rushden, likewise line-ups.
The top 7 at the turn of the year looked like this
P W D L F A Pts 1. Sheff Utd Res 14 12 1 1 43 14 25 2 Doncaster Rvrs 14 11 1 2 50 17 23 3. Derby Co Res 14 8 2 4 41 26 18 4. Ilkeston 16 6 3 7 30 28 15 5. Rushden 17 6 3 8 23 33 15 6. NORTHAMPTON 12 6 2 4 33 23 14 7. Hinckley 12 5 4 3 23 21 14
Over the Christmas and New Year period Town used the services of Lancelot Driffield, a goalkeeper who was a Cambridge University regular at both football and cricket. He also turned out for Northants at cricket. When he returned to University, Bullimer returned to between the posts as, on 19th January 1901, Town travelled to Coalville, and the struggling Leicestershire side were hammered 4-1.
On January 22nd Queen Victoria died and as a mark of respect, all matches for the 26th were postponed, as were fixtures for 2nd February, the day of the funeral. League action resumed on 9th February, and Lincoln City were the visitors, Town winning again, this time by 3-1. The following Thursday saw the re-arranged Hinckley fixture at the County Ground, all of Hinckley's players made it to the County Ground and the trip was worthwhile for the visitors as they beat Cobblers 2-0. Burton Wanderers were the opponents for the next two weeks, the away trip saw Stewart's goal the only one that separated the sides, but the following week (the start of five consecutive home games) Burton were dispatched 5-1. A United League fixture with Finedon resulted in a 1-1 draw, the same day saw Dunkley return to Northampton transferring back from Leicester, and two days later Leicester Fosse (First team) came to town and left with a 6-1 victory. Midland League action continued on 9th March, with league leaders Sheffield Utd Reserves the visitors, Town managed to rescue a half-time 2-0 deficit to gain a well earned draw thanks to two Pell goals. 16th March saw another victory, and with it a hat-trick from Miller, another creditable result followed at Derby, with a 2-2 draw.
Good Friday saw the return fixture with Doncaster, as Town travelled to South Yorkshire and the Tykes achieved a "double" over Town, and Town travelled back south via Worksop where a draw was achieved despite trailing 2-1. Easter Monday, and the Scottish Amateurs were at the County Ground again, an experienced Scottish side avenged the previous year's defeat, Miller getting Town's only goal. This was followed up by a trip to the scene of the FA Cup disappointment, but this time a draw was the result, which was, according to the newspapers, a good result given the state of the Hinckley pitch. Apparently it had a slope which made Barnet's ground a billiard table in comparison, and there were deep hollows throughout! This left just one fixture left in the Midland League, away at Newark, but there were three United League fixtures left. Luton came to the County Ground and neither side managed to score, this was Town's fifth game in six days, three days later Kettering were the visitors for the season's last game at the County Ground, I was unable to discover the names of the goalscorers in the 2-2 draw. Two days later Town travelled to Kettering for the return fixture and the local rivals put four past a tired Town side, with Brown getting Town's only goal. The season ended with a return friendly at Leicester Fosse, and despite the defeat the performance was much improved.
As you can see from below, the side finished third again and it was decided to apply for membership of the Southern League, which was yet another step up the ladder. The club were accepted into the League and after only four seasons in existence the Club were competing in the same Division as that season's FA Cup winners, Tottenham Hotspurs.
Final Table P W D L F A Pts 1. Sheff Utd Res 26 21 3 2 78 23 45 2. Doncaster 26 17 2 7 87 32 36 3. Northampton 26 13 7 6 65 43 33 4. Derby Co Res 26 14 4 8 74 45 32 5. Hinckley Town 26 12 6 8 55 44 30 6. Newark 26 13 2 11 56 50 28 7. Wellingboro 26 12 4 10 44 46 28 8. Ilkeston Town 26 10 4 12 70 50 24 9. Leics Fosse R 26 11 1 14 60 64 23 10. Lincoln Res 26 7 7 12 46 49 21 11. Rushden 26 8 5 13 35 61 21 12. Worksop Town 26 8 4 14 50 75 20 13. Coalville Tn 26 5 2 19 30 102 12 14. Burton Wdrs 26 4 3 19 33 99 11
Date Opponents Comp Score 1900 1st Sep Wellingborough ML 1-2 8th Sep Ilkeston ML 2-1 10th Sep Wellingborough NSC SF 3-2 22nd Sep COALVILLE ML 7-0 24th Sep Rushden ML 1-1 29th Sep HINCKLEY F 3-0 6th Oct Sheff. U Res. ML 2-3 13th Oct WELLINGBOROUGH ML 2-2 20th Oct BURY F 1-4 22nd Oct Kettering NSC Final 2-4 27th Oct LEICESTER FOSSE RES ML 5-1 29th Oct Wellingborough UL 2-3 3rd Nov Hinckley FA Cup 3rd Qual 0-2 12th Nov Finedon UL 2-1 17th Nov RUSHDEN UL 3-3 24th Nov Lincoln C Res ML 5-3 1st Dec RUSHDEN ML 5-2 8th Dec Leicester Fosse R ML 3-5 15th Dec ILKESTON ML 3-1 24th Dec DONCASTER ROVERS ML 0-2 26th Dec Luton UL 1-2 28th Dec RUSHDEN UL 29th Dec WELLINGBOROUGH UL 0-2 1901 12th Jan DERBY COUNTY RES ML 2-1 19th Jan Coalville ML 4-1 9th Feb LINCOLN C RES ML 3-1 14th Feb HINCKLEY ML 0-2 16th Feb Burton Wanderers ML 1-0 23rd Feb BURTON WANDERERS ML 5-1 2nd Mar FINEDON UL 1-1 4th Mar LEICESTER FOSSE F 1-6 9th Mar SHEFF U RES ML 2-2 16th Mar WORKSOP ML 4-2 23rd Mar Derby Co Res ML 2-2 30th Mar NEWARK ML 2-1 5th Apr Doncaster Rovers ML 0-3 6th Apr Worksop ML 2-2 8th Apr SCOTTISH AMATEURS F 1-2 9th Apr Hinckley ML 1-1 10th Apr LUTON UL 0-0 13th Apr KETTERING UL 2-2 15th Apr Kettering UL 1-4 18th Apr Newark ML 1-1 20th Apr Leicester Fosse F 2-4
Key: ML = Midland League; UL = United League; NSC = Northants Senior Cup; F = FriendlyReturn to WALOC Home Page