League 1

Northampton: Richards makes Swindon switch

Former captain Marc Richards has left Northampton Town by mutual consent, and fans across the county are reminiscing about their favourite memories from the 35-year-old.

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It was announced yesterday that striker Marc Richards had left Northampton Town by mutual consent, which came as a bit of a shock to Cobblers fans. The January transfer window for Northampton has been a great one so far, with many new players coming in and instantly making an impact. But with players coming in, some players are being shown the door, and Richards is the second player to leave Sixfields. This comes after fellow attacker Billy Waters was sent out on loan to League 2 side Cambridge United. Richards has failed to nail down a regular first-team place this season, with Burnley loanee Chris Long bagging seven goals for the Cobblers, and Alex Revell returning to the side and making his own mark, scoring against Southend earlier this month. With this in mind, it makes sense for the man from Wolverhampton to move on, especially considering his age.

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Richards first signed for Northampton back in 2003 from Blackburn Rovers. He seemed like a poor signing at first, but after 27 games he bagged his first league goal for the Cobblers. Only a month after this, Richards had possibly the best game of his career when he scored four goals in the opening 39 minutes against Macclesfield. He ended the 2003/2004 season with 11 goals. Unfortunately, Richards suffered multiple knee injuries, which kept him out of action for the majority of the 2004/2005 season. He then left the club in 2005 to sign for Barnsley.

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Almost a decade later, Richards returned to Northampton under legendary manager, Chris Wilder. The striker had a great first season, scoring 18 goals and becoming the joint third highest goalscorer in League 2 that season. Then came the 2015/2016 season, where Richards helped Northampton win the League 2 title, ending on 99 points and failing to lose a game after December. Once again he scored 18 goals and lifted the trophy alongside David Buchanan. This was Richards’ second League 2 title in three years. Since this magical season, Richards has started to drop down in quality, which is not surprising considering he is now 35 years of age. With only one goal this season, it was only right for Richards to leave the club and allow younger attackers to take the spotlight at Sixfields.

The former Port Vale and Chesterfield player has now signed for League 2 side Swindon Town, and has aimed for promotion with his new side.

“Being made available by Northampton I had some interest from a couple of clubs in league two, and both clubs were pushing for promotion,” Richards told Swindon Town.

“A big thing for me was to join a club that was looking for success at the end of the season, and having spoken to the manager here and a couple of players in the squad that I know, it seemed a good choice to make.

“Pushing for promotion is the biggest factor for myself.”

So who is there to replace Richards? For now, the Cobblers have Chris Long, who is the club’s top scorer this season but is only here on loan until the end of the season. Also available is Alex Revell, who despite being 34 years old is still a good striker on his day. Then you have the two youngsters, Joe Iaciofano and Leon Lobjoit. 19-year-old Iaciofano has been sent out on loan so far this season and has bagged 10 goals in his first 10 games for Chesham United, which is no surprise considering he has been playing alongside club legend Scott McGleish at The Generals. 23-year-old Lobjoit has also been sent out on loan this season, to both Corby Town and Nuneaton Town. He has had similar success, scoring a handful of goals at both clubs. Despite these options, manager Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has expressed his desire to sign another goal scorer in this window.

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“We’re still trying to sign a few players,” he added. “At the back we’re a little bit bare but also we want to get more goals as well and people who can play under pressure and can take pressure off others.

“We also need competition so we’re looking to keep improving the squad and hopefully we can find somebody to do so.”

One target for Hasselbaink is Joe Bunney, who can play both left back and striker. Rochdale are fellow relegation rivals and they will be hoping to keep the 24-year-old unless a high fee is offered. It is likely that Hasselbaink could be signing a striker on loan though, as the reason for goalkeeper Matt Ingram being sent back to QPR was to free up a loan space in the squad.

What is your favourite Marc Richards moment? Let us know your best moments and let us know who you would like Hasselbaink to sign as a replacement.

Featured Image Credit: Matt Churchill

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