Joe Widdowson is looking forward to crossing swords with his former Rochdale team-mates when new club Northampton Town head to Spotland for the first game of the new League Two season on August 18.
The left back has spent the last two seasons playing in League One with Dale, helping them to a ninth place finish under Keith Hill in 2011 before enduringamuchmore turbulent campaign the following year and suffering relegation.
Widdowson was subsequently released when his contract was up and after speaking with Aidy Boothroyd he chose to join Northampton. Now, by a quirk of fate, his first competitive game in a Cobblers shirt could well be against his old side.
“I don’t mind when we play them and I’m looking forward to it,” said the 23-year-old. “I’ve got a lot of friends there and hopefully I’ll get a good reception when I go back. I think I did well for the club and it will be nice to go back to see some familiar faces.
“I don’t think I’ve got anything to prove to them. I was in the team for the best part of two years and I played a lot of games.
“I’ll probably be that bit more determined going back to an old club, especially that early on in the season, but it’s all about Northampton now. We’ve got games to win, starting with that one at Spotland.”
A product of West Ham United’s famed youth academy, Widdowson’s first experience of senior football was a loan spell at Rotherham United in 2008 – the team Northampton play their first home league game of the season against.
From there, he went to Grimsby Town the following year, again initially on loan before signing a permanent deal. And after a season with the Mariners he was off to Rochdale following their first promotion for 41 years.
That first season in League One saw Dale surprise many by finishing just three points off the play-off places. But after boss Hill left for Barnsley, it all unravelled and ended with them being relegated at the end of last season.
Widdowson naturally has ambitions to play at that level again and after speaking with Cobblers boss Boothroyd he is convinced that Sixfields is the place where he can achieve that aim.
He said: “I got a good vibe from him straight away and I liked what he had to say. He didn’t really have to sell the club much; he was just very honest and down to earth.
“He told me a bit about himself, about Northampton, and what his plans and vision are for the season and the team.
“Out of all of the people and managers I spoke to over the summer he seemed the most genuine and that’s what convinced me.
“He’s an ambitious man and he’s not a League Two manager because he has managed in the Championship and higher.
“Like the rest of the squad, especially the ones who have come in over the summer, everyone has played at a higher level and everyone is ambitious.”