Rough guide to
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'05-06 season index
Rough guide to... Notts County
31 May 2005
Steve Finnan, in the Liverpool team, has wanted to be Jamie Carragher for bloody ages. Commentators notice Jamie; they know his name and half the time mistake Finnan for him. Hence "Carragher's been everywhere tonight". Forest won the European Cup twice you know. County won the Anglo-Italian, but it just doesn't have the same ring to it. County hate Forest, but want to be them. Oh, and Finnan used to play for the Magpies. Is that what you wanted Mr Editor? [Not quite what I expected, but imaginative and surprisingly effective – Ed.]
Notts had a bloody awful start, winning just one of their first nine matches. The fans started to contemplate the worst until a mini-revival under caretaker player-manager Ian Richardson ensured they escaped the trapdoor to the Conference. Crap at home all season, they failed to make much headway up the table though, and ended up 19th – half a dozen points behind Town. A half-decent FA Cup run saw them take the lead against Middlesbrough in the third round before conceding twice and then, er, losing 2-1. At the dog end of the season I saw them host the Mariners: both teams put on woeful but strangely entertaining displays and ended up drawing two-all.
And at the end of it all the board asked Rico to get himself fit again because they were hiring a proper manager. The fans thought they might get Keith Alexander, or even Paul Hart. But no, it was to be Gudjon Thordarson.
The Magpies are just plain glad to have survived through it. Five hundred and sixty-three days in administration is a long, long time. More managers (twelve) in ten years than there are, oh, eggs in a metric dozen. And ten years or so ago it was Russell Slade for an ill-starred few months. Sam Allardyce took over at one point, going without a win in his first 20 or so matches. Then he really turned things around, culminating with Notts winning the old third division by a massive 19 points. But nothing good ever lasts long, does it? So the merry-go-round continues: sack the manager, relegation, the odd promotion - all against a constant backdrop of financial uncertainty.
Do we like them?
What's not to like? They like to sing a bit, and the wheelbarrow song is a favourite of mine. There's half a chance that Handyside(s) might end up there now that that Icelandic wotshisface is manager. And I can't really hate any side for which Pete plays. Can you?
County are no doubt excitedly held up by Mr Otter and his GTST mates as an example of how clubs can be rescued by their fans. And how a simple fan can end up being so important that he is elected the chairman of the club. The County supporters trust, helped by local firms, managed to raise the cash to prise the club from the clutches of the administrator. The trust now holds over 30 per cent of the shares and trust-appointed director Steve Thompson became chairman in early May. County also have Howard Wilkinson on the board these days - which may be a bit of a mixed blessing, don't you think?
Free kick expert and lazy-arsed midfielder Stefan Oakes has jumped ship and gone to Wycombe. Wycombe? The fans like the up-and-coming Kelvin Wilson, who has made the grade in the first team after joining as a trainee. And of course, they love Magpies stalwart Ian Richardson, who stepped into the breach as manager when County were getting thumped every week earlier on last season. Apparently Ian may make a comeback as a player next season, but failing that he's got a testimonial to look forward to after ten years at the club. The rumour mill reckons that the new manager might be signing his son, Toddi Gudjonsson, on a freebie. That might not be a bad move, actually.
Next season ought to go a little better for the long-suffering Magpies fans. They have appointed a new manager in time for him to tweak the squad, and quite a few of last season's players are still under contract. So cue long rambling statement about transition and stabilising and so on. Upper mid-table would make everyone happy, and they should achieve that, in my opinion.
Why don't you just switch off from the football and go out and do something less boring instead?
The city of Nottingham is known around the world principally for its historical associations with a certain Robin Hood. What fewer people know is that the origins of its name derive from an eighth-century Anglo-Saxon clan leader called Snot, a word that doesn't have quite the same ring in tourist brochures.
Notwithstanding that, I'd go to Ken Clarke's constituency surgery in nearby Rushcliffe. One can rap to that cat Ken about all kinds of jazz. He likes beer too. In fact, for a Tory, he's not a bad lad. Oh, and visit the Rushcliffe leisure centre – I had the job of cleaning the handrails in the swimming pool once. The only time I ever took me trunks to work...