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Matt and Marcus beat crowd ban to savour Cobblers’ Wembley win

Written by on July 13, 2020

While thousands of Northampton Town fans couldn’t be at Wembley to watch the club’s promotion play off final win, a University of Northampton student and a graduate had passes for the game.

The Covid-19 pandemic meant that the Cobblers’ League Two promotion decider against Exeter City, on Monday 29 June, had to be played behind closed doors.

But Multimedia Sports Journalism student, Marcus Ally, and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Matt Derrig, were inside Wembley to witness Town seal promotion to League One, as they walloped the Grecians 4-0.

Marcus was there to collate stats for football data company Opta, while Matt was in the press box as a member of the Cobblers’ media team.

Marcus, who has been combining his studies with working for Opta at Cobblers games all season, said: “Wembley was very surreal, I got there early and was hanging around, it was like a ghost town.

“I walked down Wembley Way after the game on the way to get on a tube and it was soulless and empty, stark contrast to how full of life and passion it is in normal times.

“Having no fans was odd, it was an astonishing result and performance, but I can’t help feel for the supporters who weren’t able to witness it with their friends, family and fellow supporters.”

Marcus, who is a lifelong Charlton fan, added: “It would have been the best day of some of their lives – it might sound sad, but seeing Charlton win at Wembley in the League One playoff final last season was right up there for me if not the best, and that was a 2-1 nail biter, this was a 4-0 masterclass and the fans couldn’t be there for it.

“I think the players still celebrated and acted like it was a normal game. There was no lack of determination or joy at the end under the circumstances. It was quite eerie and hollow, but the performance from the team just took the attention away from all of that.”

Meanwhile Matt, who joined the Cobblers press team as an intern in 2014 before taking up the role full time two years later, says the final was a match he’ll never forget.

“It was a magical evening,” he said. “There wasn’t too much time to soak it all up prior to kick-off because we couldn’t enter the stadium until two hours beforehand, and some of that time was spent queuing for temperature checks and media passes. So by the time we were seated, team-news time was quickly approaching.

“I’ve been fortunate to go to Wembley before, as a fan, but it was a completely different feeling representing your hometown team and knowing that you were one of the people responsible for keeping the supporters at home updated.

“We’d played so well in the game beforehand that I felt confident we had a similar performance in our locker, and thankfully we did just that. An early goal helped settle any nerves and watching the team dominate such a big game in-front of a huge online and TV following was a great feeling. Even at 2-0 you’re not entirely sure because anything can happen in football, but after the Exeter red card it felt as though we could go on and complete the job, then when the third and fourth goals went in we could really start enjoying the moment.

“I think pressing send on the ‘THE TOWN ARE GOING UP!’ post on social media at full-time is when it really sunk in, and the team and management staff deserve huge credit for the way they’ve gone about their work this season. The scenes at full-time will stay with me for a long time, and it showed a team that care about their club and as a result we now we have Sky Bet League One football to look forward to, which is really exciting for us and our supporters.”

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