An updated guide to... Notts County

Cod Almighty | Article

by Sarah Mann-Needs

1 August 2016

There's been another turn of the managerial merry-go-round, but with a change of owner at last, things might be looking up at Meadow Lane. Sarah adds to her original rough guide to Notts County 

How are you?

Is "the Magpies" an appropriate name for one of our closest neighbours? Do they have a reputation for taking and stashing shiny trophies and medals?

Maybe not. In the last 20 years they have had two promotions and three relegations, their highest finish being seventh in division three. So not a glamour club or one for the glory supporters.

Maybe it's the black and white stripes...

What have you been up to?

Finishing 19th in the fourth division during our annus horribilis, or bummer of a year, the Pies went on to be champions a year later in 2009-10. After five years of bobbing around with no consistency from one season to the next, they succumbed to relegation at the end of 2014-15. One year on and a new stint in the fourth division saw a 17th-place finish, ending the season at home with a 5-0 thumping from Carlisle. One week later we were celebrating our triumph at Wembley and the Mariners were back.

Encountering a Pie, I cannot resist asking: "So what was all that business with Sven, then?" Yes, it is true: for seven crazy months in 2010, Notts County thought they were heading for a major revival in their fortunes with promises of significant investment and Sven-Goran Eriksson, Sol Campbell and Kasper Schmeichel signed up. Campbell, not known for standing by his decisions, disappeared after one game; Schmeichel moved on by mutual consent at the end of the season, one year into a five-year contract; Sven was left to lick his wounds, having seen Munto Finance, the club's offshore registered parent company, vanish, leaving County with major debts and the threat of being wound up.

Ray Trew bought the club for £1 in 2010 but resigned as chairman last season following outbursts from fans angry at poor performances and directionless backroom changes. He promptly put the club up for sale, but despite rumours of interest he remained as owner until this month.

Not one for an allegiance to a club, Trew is remembered for putting Keith Alexander on gardening leave from the Lincoln City job in the 2005-06 season. That decision saw Trew's departure from the Imps when the decision was overturned by the board.

What kind of season did you have?

County made more headlines off the pitch than on last season with Managerial Musical Chairs. In December, Ricardo Moniz was sacked after less than nine months in charge. Trew felt the "time was right for a new approach to ignite the season".

After 12 days with a caretaker they appointed Jamie Fullarton in January. He lasted until March, and the chair thanked him for his efforts after 12 games in charge. Mark Cooper became the third manager of the season. The music stopped and he only lasted until May.

How were you feeling in August...?

New manager John Sheridan has joined from Oldham and the buzz surrounding his arrival continues to build anticipation as the new season gets under way. Fans are positive about new signings, including former Mariner Alex Rodman. Just in case the new manager hasn't got the first idea about what is going on, County are currently advertising for a first team performance analyst "to deliver in-depth analysis to the first-team manager, players and backroom staff".

I ventured on to the Pride of Nottingham messageboard, where all seems positive for the season ahead:

"We seem to have some good experienced players and I think a few more additions we would be set for the season ahead."

"I'm very optimistic, I think things are coming along smoothly and the signings we have made all seem to be better than what we had last year!"

And the voice of experience:

"I'm now on the verge of my 47th season supporting Notts, and I honestly don't have a clue! There is never, ever, a pre-season where the majority of supporters aren't optimistic. June and July seem to have the weird effect of making the horrors of the likes of 0-5 v Carlisle a distant memory."

Trawling prediction sites pre-season, Notts County were expected to make a strong start as four of their first five games were against clubs predicted to struggle. But they are not expected to finish the season in the top half of the table.

... and how are you feeling now?

Prior to their 0-0 draw against the Stags last Saturday, County had lost their last 10 league games. Their poor run has led to players being released, including Alex Rodman. He has since joined Paul Hurst at Shrewsbury.

Sheridan was sacked on 2 January but despite languishing in the relegation zone fans have a new optimism. There have been twists and hold-ups, but their club has at last got a new owner, local businessman Alan Hardy, who has vowed to clear some debts before 6 February. He immediately appointed Kevin Nolan as the new manager. County are still subject to a winding up order and transfer embargo but at last they feel like someone is trying to sort things out.

Where are you from?

If you fancy something different before the match try visiting the City Caves, bizarrely accessed through the 1960s Broadmarsh shopping centre. Yes, Nottingham is built on over 500 caves where the poor of the city lived from around 900AD until Victorian times. Many were used again in the 1940s as air raid shelters. "You're just a town full of trogs" doesn't really scan though.

Or for those of you who like video games, the National Videogame Arcade is popular with young and not so young gamers alike.

You all know Nottingham for lace and good-looking women, and if you fancy a post-match wander, seek out the Lace Market – a cultural quarter of alternative bars and restaurants. Too many to mention here but the Jam Cafe and the Junkyard both host many guest ales and are worth a visit.

It must be hard not being Forest

Imagine supporting a proud club, seeing them run out every week in their black and white stripes, savouring those matches when you have a good game, grumbling about the frustrations of the last few years... oh yes, I can do that. But then imagine that a few hundred metres away is your brash next-door neighbour. Flash in their fancy stadium and residing comfortably two leagues above you.

Being a Mariner who lives a short walk from Meadow Lane and the City Ground, it always strikes me that it must be frustrating to follow a club where your nearest club is like that flash next-door neighbour who always has a bigger and more expensive car than you. The contrast on match day couldn't be more stark, with the Embankment closed and the Meadows used so that fans can park for a Forest match. We set off early for Town matches if Forest are at home, and local pubs are buzzing three hours before kick-off. Contrast that with realising that there must have been a match when you see a few extra people at the bus stop when County are at home.

Mart, our go-to Forest fan, sums it up: "It's self-evident that in the same way as Leicester City think we will hate them, we can't be arsed. We only have the energy for Derby. We would quite like County to do well in their sphere. They would love us to hate them but we have no energy left." Admittedly this quote is after a few glasses, so Mart, that's fine.

I'm looking forward to the Mariners eating those Pies!

The cropped front page image of Meadow Lane is © Steve Daniels and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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