BLACK & WHITE #4 - MAR ‘13 - £1
a Notts County fanzine
JULIAN KELLY HAMZA BENCHERIF KYLE DIXON Fighting for a first team slot
The French-Algerian connection Scholesy’s first notts interview
ALSO GOALKEEPERS AWAY DAYS THREE IN DEFENCETRANMERE DEADLINE DAYs & MORE
A lot’s happened since we put out the last issue of Black & White.
Obviously Lee Hughes left just before we went to print, which meant we had little time to put much together in terms of him leaving. I had hoped the centre-piece of this issue’s coverage would be an interview with Lee but it just hasn’t come together. Yet, anyway. Keith Curle has gone to - but given I wrote about why I thought Notts should keep the faith in their manager I didn’t want to retread old ground. His exit in the end was all rather inevitable really. Regardless, this fourth issue is again one I’m proud to put out. Our usual writers have again come up trumps with their contribution. There was no one better than Drew to look at Ray Trew’s recent post on Mad I felt. The case for Jeff Hughes is put across brilliant by Jacob, and Aston’s fears for the modern game are
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expressed brilliantly in his article. Piran’s first piece for B&W puts across the views of I’m sure near enough everyone about us playing three at the back as well! I also roped back in Tranmere fan Sam Robinson to get his take on just what it is that Ronnie Moore has done so right over in Birkenhead this season. Much is made of our supposed top six budget - meanwhile Tranmere have sat top of the league top of the season with amongst the division’s lowest. Obviously right now their bubble appears to have burst (stop laughing) but their efforts this season are laudable at least. Feel free of course to let us know your thoughts on issue four - all feedback is taken onboard! In the meantime I’m planning for issue five, so drop me a line if you want to get involved! firstname.lastname@example.org @blackwhitezine
Have the next six issues delivered straight to your doorstep before their matchday releases.
WITH THANKS Thank you firstly to Dave Fells & Kyle Dixon for the interview they did together. I saw Dixon (or Scholesy) recently for the youth team on a freezing cold Tuesday morning. The lad’s a right nasty swine of a footballer, never lets you settle on the ball and has one hell of a shot on him to boot! Already looking forward to seeing more of him in our first team in the near future. Graham Farquharson and Paul Smith interviews with Hamza Bencherif and Julian Kelly respectively both turned out brilliantly. As did Paul’s chat with Kevin Pilkington about our two keepers at present. Has there even been a period at the club where we’ve had such great cover inbetween the sticks? This issue’s contributors: Jacob Daniel, Drew Dennis, Helen Faccio, Ian Marsden, Piran Lynn-Smith, Luke Williamson, Sam Robinson, Aston Perrin, and Alan Combes.
The Season So Far ............................. 03 Won’t Someone Please Notice Jeff? ...... 08 Kyle Dixon interview ........................... 10 Oh Really, Ray? ................................. 12 Semper Mutuum Fenestra .................. 13 Where It All Went Wrong ................ 14 Why Fans Are Being Priced Out ......... 15 Julian Kelly interview ........................ 16 30 Years Of Hurt ................................ 19 How Many At The Back? .................... 20 The Goalkeepers Union ..................... 22 How The Other Half Have Lived .... 23 The Project - Four Years On ........ 24 Hamza Bencherif interview ............... 25 Away Days ...................................... 26 Modern Football - Be Araid .............. 27 1862 And All That ............................ 28 Lee Hughes’ Top Ten Notts Goals ......... 30
The Black & White is an independent release produced by fans and as such has no official affiliation with Notts County Football Club. The views in each publication reflect those of the individual contributors themselves.
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2012/13 - THE STORY SO FAR PART THREE
December was quite crap. Three postponements, an FA Cup exit, two more home defeats. And no wins. January 2013 began with defeat and another raft of postponements. JANUARY 1st, 2013
NOTTS 1, MK DONS 2 County started it’s 151st year with a home game with MK Dons. Starting with two up front and Lee Hughes in the starting XI like so many had wanted, Notts would be 2-0 down inside the first 15 minutes. Curle’s admission the day before that they would “adapt to the playing surface” and play 4-4-2 looked even more ludicrous. In truth though it was a marked improvement on recent home displays, but Jamal Campbell Ryce’s second half penalty was a mere consolation as the side fell to their sixth home defeat of the season. Halfway through the season and we’ve only lost two less than the whole of last. If County are to salvage anything from this campaign, this is obviously where the biggest improvement needs to come. The team wouldn’t see first team action again for another 18 days thanks to an FA Cupless weekend and a late postponement at Portsmouth - so it’s a good job there were plenty of off-field matters
to discuss in the release of Lee Hughes, the permanent signing of Andre Boucaud, and a stark warning issued by Ray Trew on the Notts County Mad messageboard.
aggrieved for his concession of a corner having been shoved off the ball, but that was no defence for the defending that would allow Harry Maguire to head home.
JANUARY 19th, 2013
It would get worse in the 25th minute when the red mist would descend on Francois Zoko who would be dismissed for his over the top reaction to giving a free-kick away. A questionable call from the referee to see a foul, but you couldn’t argue with the red card shown to Zoko.
NOTTS 1, SHEFF UTD 1 That first game back in action came following a collossal effort from both the club’s groundstaff, youth team and a number of volunteers. Another promotion-chasing team stood in front of a Notts side adopting a second new formation in as many home games - this time it was a 3-41-2 system. The Blades would lead with only 67 seconds on the clock. Jeff Hughes had every right to feel
But County showed serious resolve in getting back into the game - the like of which we’d not seen in too long. And the perseverence would be rewarded with an Alan Judge header from a free-kick from the much improved Alan Sheehan. Having performed so flaccidly for much of the season at home, it was a relief to see there was some fight still left in the side back at Meadow Lane as opposed to just away.
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Such was the improvement shown by Keith Curle’s team that by the final whistle, there was only one team likely to win the game!
JANUARY 22nd, 2013
NOTTS 1, OLDHAM 0
JANUARY 26th, 2013
ORIENT 2, NOTTS 1 The away run would finish at 23 games unbeaten in all competitions away in London despite Jeff Hughes’ late goal to rally Notts. It was a great ride whilst it lasted! Having lost goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski with not even 20 minutes played, Notts were kept in the game thanks to highly rated goalkeeper Fabian Spiess coming off the bench. Bart took a boot in the face, and would be diagnosed later in hospital as having a concussion. The offendant would only receive a yellow card.
Just days after the cold weather had failed to take hold of the Blades fixture, the club beat the weather once more when conditions if anything had only worsened in the preceeding days! Building on the fight shown in the against United, Notts would achieve their first win since the end of October. Another improved first half display would be capped off by the first goal of Enoch Showunmi’s that would actually mean anything - tapping in near enough on the line having seen Oldham’s defence split by an audacious Andre Boucaud long ball in to Jamal CampbellRyce.
County came closest to breaking the deadlock twice in the first half when Yoann Arquin’s header would cannon off the crossbar, before Showunmi’s header would be cleared off the line just on half time. Spiess would hold out though until the 65th minute when David Mooney would be in the right place to head in a rebound after Spiess had brilliantly tipped a drive onto the crossbar. It would be a two goal deficit just three minutes later when County conceded yet another goal from a set piece through Mathieu Baudry. Hughes’ strike just 12 minutes from time would stir Notts to some degree - but substitute
Not that the second half would be all plain sailing, but an Oldham side admittedly with an eye on the following weekend’s FA Cup tie with Liverpool wouldn’t be able to throw up much resistance thankfully. A first win in eight games in all competitions was never going to be easy with this club though!
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Romello Nangle up front with Enoch couldn’t produce enough to salvage a point from the afternoon. Keith Curle’s first away defeat in charge of Notts came in the first of four consecutive away games that his side would face. Not the best starts to a problematic run of four away games! JANUARY 29th, 2013
POMPEY 0, NOTTS 2 A game that fortunately for Keith Curle would only be seen by 135 travelling fans will be remembered by most of the Notts fans in attendance as the worst performance of the season (so far) against arguably the worst team. Spiess would continue in goal and would be called upon as early as the first minute getting finger tips on a shot rolling towards goal - just enough of a touch to allow Gary Liddle to get back on the line to clear. If you’re not keeping count, it’s Lidds’ third goal line block of the season. Bar that, Fabs wouldn’t be called on all night for anything other than plucking a few crosses out of the air. Portsmouth’s mish mash of players was horrendous to watch - but then again, our very own established squad didn’t fare that much better! It honestly was that uncomfortable to watch. The Park
conditions at in truth
absolutely dire with swirling winds making the long balls Notts were attempting appear suicidal, the rain making the surface so slippery that skipper Neal Bishop must’ve lost his footing on about two dozen occasions. Ok, slight exaggeration maybe! But not by much. It’s difficult to pinpoint which was the most frustrating at the time - either that Keith Curle was watching the same game as us and decided his team didn’t need changing, or that Yoann Arquin managed to last as long as he did on the field. But with ten minutes left to play, Curle’s faith would be repaid by an incredible Arquin cross right into the feet of Jeff Hughes who would tap in to open the scoring. Words just don’t do the delivery justice. Back in the side following suspension, Francois Zoko doubled the advantage seven minutes later with two minutes to play, nodding in from a couple of yards. Deep into stoppage time though the night would be soured ever so slightly by Bishop’s raising a hand and flicking a Pompey player. Petulance, nothing more. Straight red card, three games out.
goal difference seperating both clubs this time around. Pools had also lost their last seven home games! The night before’s draw between Sheffield United and Coventry game had meant that if Notts could seal victory, they would rest just two points outside of the Play-Offs. But it began to fall apart just five minutes in, following a counter-attack which three men down the right failed to snuff out, the ball would be swung into the box to James Poole who controlled with his first touch and volley past Spiess. Bar a few minutes pressure at the end of the half, Notts produced little of note. The second half started a very different affair with some of the best attacking play Keith Curle’s side had played in some time. It was rewarded with a spectacular Campbell-Ryce solo effort having collected the ball on the right wing and cut inside past three defenders. With a hold on the game now, it would be (again) a lack of incision that would be County’s downfall. And this would lead to Peter Hartley heading in with just another power to get the ball past Francois Zoko on the goalline.
As depressing as the performance might’ve been, the spirit shown in never stopping plugging away at Pompey was to be commended. FEBRUARY 2nd, 2013
HARTLEPOOL 2, NOTTS 1
And you never really felt that Notts could get back into the game from there. Judgey’s downwards header would bobble towards goal in slow motion but would eventually be smothered, and that was as good as it got sadly. Post-match Curle spoke of a difference in mentality between “top professionals” and “lower league players”, and perhaps tellingly it was the first time none of the players would defend their gaffer via social media. The next day, Curle was gone. A sad, but somewhat inevitable conclusion was how I labelled it. But Curle had been fighting against the tide from the moment he was appointed. Things had gone spectacularly off the boil for him in recent months, but with many supporters having readily sharpened knives in hand for the duration of his reign he stood very little chance in their eyes. Utlimately the stayaway fans would impact on the decision to remove him from hispost. Players reacted with shock on Twitter, seemingly (but not necessarily) oblivious to the part they themselves had played in KC’s sacking following months of lacking team performances. Curle’s family took the news as expected on Twitter and thrust themselves into arguments with Notts fans - a quite unsavoury end for all concerned. Head of the development squad Chris Kiwomya was the man brave enough to step into the breach as caretaker manager whilst the board sought out a full time replacement.
Nearly a year to the day since a 3-0 defeat at Victoria Park brought Martin Allen’s Notts tenure to a premature halt, the pressure was most certainly on going into this season’s match - especially considering Hartlepool were languishing bottom of the table with 14 sides and a 39 goal swing in
FEBRUARY 5th, 2013
STEVENAGE 2, NOTTS 0 Hartlepool had lost their last seven games before Notts’
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visit. Stevenage weren’t doing much better with six defeats in their last seven on home soil! But this knack that County have for helping out teams who are in a rut is just getting too much. If you were looking for a game of football to sum up the club’s recent few months - this was it! Supporters arrived at the Lamex Stadium still trying to take in the Curle sacking, but feeling that the last few months on-field struggles would begin to be rectified this night. A new formation? Players plucked from Kiwomya’s own development squad? A new approach in how to attack the game perhaps? None were forthcoming as Notts persisted with a three man defence (thus wasting the midfield talents of Gary Liddle who had excelled the Saturday before) with the only change being enforced through injury. And the theme of “same old, same old” continued into the match as well. Statuesque defending saw a blocked shot rebound off Dean Leacock into the path of Will Hoskins who didn’t even have to connect cleanly with the ball to get the ball pasted Spiess. And this all inside 30 seconds! The next 90 minutes or so of play would be somewhat pleasing. From box to box we played some great football, let down by a lack of any significant end product from either of our three strikers Showunmi, Zoko or Arquin. It would be punished in the very last minute of normal time, as Spiess parried Haber’s header into the back of the net. Like I say, this had been the perfect reflection of the last month’s of play. Kiwomya said post-match that given he’d only had one training session with the players he felt it not right to change things too much.
FEBRUARY 9th, 2013
NOTTS 1, CREWE 1 Having done so little with his first opportunity in charge things would run a little more smoothly for Kiwomya as Notts returned home after four games on the road. The first half mind was a truly dire effort from the Notts players - Gavin Mahon in particular a particular concern throughout - with the exclamation point put on his display by giving away a penalty on the stroke of halftime. Fabian Spiess was once more performing heroicly on his way to his first Man Of The Match award at Notts, but even he could deny Crewe the lead from the penalty spot. Mahon’s removal from the field at half-time came as no surprise, but it was delightfully positive to see Kiwomya do so to bring on a second-striker Yoann Arquin. Having had a quiet home debut, the previous day’s loan signing John Cofie from Man Yanited was a changed man in the second half. His equaliser from 20 yards pulled Notts back into contention - his linkups with Arquin were a constant paint to the Alexandra defence and even in drawing, you could take some satisfaction from Notts having spent an entire half of football actually troubling a goalkeeper. This had been happening far too infrequently of late! FEBRUARY 16th, 2013
WALSALL 1, NOTTS 1 In about as uneventful an afternoon’s “action” as there’ll be all season, Notts would yet again fall behind before needing to find an equaliser.
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County conceded a penalty for the second game in succession as a returning Bartosz Bialkowski clipped an attacking player (seemingly offside, unspotted by a rather portly linesman on the far side). Will Grigg converted from the spot. It was another much-improved second half performance. Quite frustrating when you think about it. But Yoann Arquin’s equaliser was certainly no less than County deserved on easily the most artrocious playing surface the side has seen this season. FEBRUARY 22nd, 2013
NOTTS 4, BURY 1
The Sky TV cameras were in town the following Friday and again, it wouldn’t be until the second half that Kiwomya’s Notts would produce anything of worth. Bury would lead, well of course they would. Steven Schumacher put the visitors a goal up, making the most of a returning Julian Kelly giving the ball away.
From the resulting corner he denied O’Hanlon who was barely two yards out from goal. His personal hat-trick came in stopping Berrett (already denied by an Alan Sheehan goalline clearance) at full stretch when the ball was already past him. Another MOTM-winning display from Bartosz, more points on the board that he’s played a massive part in.
Four goals in 16 second half minutes was a spectacular reply, even if much was due in some part to Bury’s Ashley Eastwood - the calamitous defender who had only been with Notts a few months back! It was Kelly who restored parity, checking inside beautifully before his shot was deflected in. Francois Zoko would be the biggest beneficiary of Eastwood’s nightmare. Twice the Bury defender made a complete hash of clearing a high ball, twice Zokes took advantage! Alan Judge was fouled inside the penalty area next (by Eastham!), Jamal CampbellRyce converted the penalty. It might’ve taken a while to get there, but once Notts had got firing a somewhat enjoyable evening was had by all! Despite Bury’s hand in victory, the win was still enough to see Kiwomya given the manager’s job until the end of the season. Uninspiring possibly, inevitable definitely, but with promotion looking as unlikely as it did sensible most certainly. FEBRUARY 26th, 2013
TRANMERE 1, NOTTS 1 Having thoroughly let themselves down earlier in the season at Meadow Lane through lack of effort, the County response in this game was fantastic to see. Against a side who have been at the top of table for so long (but
now sadly, have begun to lose their way) it’s safe to say that County should even have won the game. Abdulai Bell-Baggie, a scorer in the first fixture gave Rovers a first half lead converting Stockton’s through ball. Notts skipper Neal Bishop flicked home an equaliser from Alan Judge’s free-kick and promptly celebrated in front of the Birkenhead unwashed. Top man. Jeff Hughes could’ve clinched three points having rounded flapper goalkeeper Owain FonWilliams, but having cut back inside his shot struck the post. This was still a more than solid, acceptable point away from home though given Tranmere’s season. MARCH 2nd, 2013
NOTTS 1, CARLISLE 0 And the award for ugliest game of the season goes to...
But Notts were far from impressive against a relegation threatened side. The rapidly deteriorated playing surface could be not used in their defence either. Ahead of the following Wednesday’s visit of Leyton Orient, much improvement was needed. MARCH 6th, 2013
NOTTS 1, ORIENT 1 With both sides pushing for an unlikely play-off spot, it’s possible that this was the game which ended both sides promotion hopes. Neal Bishop’s brilliantly finished team goal gave County the lead with their first opportunity, but Dean Leacock’s foul in the second half saw yet another penalty conceded - Lisbie duly dispatched it to clinch the draw. Notts finished the game as the better side, but that was hardly the most glowing compliment you could pay. Haydn Hollis’ made his first start of the season and did little wrong throughout the night.
A quite woeful game of football at Meadow Lane saw Notts win consecutive home fixtures for only the second time this season, thanks to Alan Judge’s deliciously lofted effort in the first half.
The draw took Notts a point closer to the top six - a divide now down to seven. But five points ahead of three very winnable games would’ve been better.
Yet County were just as indebted (once again) to Polish goalkeeper Bartosz Bialkowski who pulled off three insane saves in the second frame. Firstly, clawing Miller’s header out of the air at full stretch.
Kiwomya’s team are six unbeaten. The Play-Offs are still a distant dream but having not found a decent run of performances in so long, an upturn might just put promotion back on the season’s agenda.
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WON’T SOMEONE PLEASE JUST NOTICE JEFF?
Football fans, for the most part at least, really like extremes. Fans of teams who, by rights, should’ve seen their team of average, injury prone journeymen relegated by March start to moan when they’ve limped into mid-table because it gets boring and they have ‘nothing to play for’. The most loved players in any team are almost always flashy forwards or chisel-jawed, stoic defenders, leaving the midfielder something of a marginalised and forgotten figure. I will concede that some of this has changed in recent years, one of many things that could be put down to the ‘Barcelona effect’ - but it would be a stupid, probably even blind, man who would ignore the brilliance of Xavi and Iniesta or, here in England, David Silva and Juan Mata. The midfield, though, has also been carved out into zones and areas - the deeplying playmaker, the attacking midfielder and so forth - there just seems to be no place left for the bloke who just plays anywhere between the defenders and the forwards, doing a solid job. For Notts, in amongst the bull-in-a-china-shop, blind aggression of Neal Bishop and the Ryanair version of Mata, Alan Judge, Notts have the often ephemeral seeming presence of Jeff Hughes. A man who has played on the left, in the middle, on the right and even at the back, with generally laudable levels of competent and effort, but is still yet to find a true home within Notts’, well, i’m not really sure what formation we’re trying to play any more. His goal tally last season, mostly collected with the unerring, dead-eye composure from the spot that has been ridiculously disposed of this season after he hit a post against Stevenage, seemed to mask a bubbling undercurrent of disaffection with a player who, most people cry, does not know his best position. The thing is, Notts fans, that in itself is kind of the point of Jeff Hughes. When Hughes’ name appears on the teamsheet, now people no longer have the chance to hope that it is preceded by the letter ‘L’, I can almost imagine the collective sighs of people checking Twitter and thinking ‘where’s he meant to be playing, then?’. This is a worrying trend that seems to be extending to the management, with Hughes being the one of Notts’ five first choice midfielders to find himself most readily sacrificed to facilitate Chris Kiwomya’s preference for four across the middle. Me? I sigh when Hughes is not there, left out for the honest industry but blind-dartsplayer accuracy of Bishop or the wayward crossing of Campbell-Ryce. It is true that Hughes suffers from being the age-old jack of all trades, yet master of none, but it should be this that makes him the first name on the team sheet every single week. Good at keeping the ball, solid in the tackle and with a good work rate, Hughes offers all of a midfielder’s skill set in one, with the rest of the midfield having to cobble their talents
together to offer such versatility. His ability to arrive late in the box and anticipate where the ball will end up is also vital in a team that is pretty much overflowing with goal shy forwards. Even at the highest level, managers retain a liking for the loyal servant, the willing labrador, that Hughes represents. Until his illness Darren Fletcher was regularly in the Manchester United line-up, despite having no stand-out abilities at all, whilst James Milner can still be found roaming around midfield doing everything quite well for Manchester City and England. Even Real Madrid find room for Sami Khedira, a German midfielder who, relatively speaking, is a midfielder who is consistent, useful but entirely unspectacular. Without wanting to compare Hughes to a world class footballer, I believe he has the same ability to perform every week, without anyone ever really appreciating or even noticing it. Indeed, the ratings thread on Notts Mad every time he plays, almost without fail, will be littered with the word ‘anonymous’, even after a performance of excellent ball retention and consistently intelligent positional play. So, next time you see Jeff Hughes’ name in the side, watch him - whether he’s out on the left, anchoring the midfield or even doing his best at left back, and appreciate him for what he is. Out of contract at the end of the season, with little having come of the offer he received along with Judge last summer, I fear that Notts could suffer from that eternal problem of not realising what we have until it’s gone. For those of you who don’t believe me, go and find the highlights of THAT game at Charlton last season - you know, the one where Alan Judge and Jonathan Forte stole the show? Hughes picked up three assists and if, to quote Lemar, there was any justice in the world, would have walked away with man of the match. Notice just how polarised his contributions are - for Judge’s opener, a clever pass that took the whole Charlton midfield out of the game, followed by a fantastic jump to win a flick on and delicious right wing cross for two of Forte’s goals. That day he was playing out on the right - the next week Keith Curle had him playing in central midfield as Notts’ good form towards the end of last season continued. Any player who can give you that kind of option is invaluable and will always have a place in football, whether we notice them or not. Jacob Daniel @NottsCountyMad
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PRESIDENT Ray Trew
CHAIRMAN Malcolm Voce
SECRETARY Alan Malloy
TREASURER Andy Bryan
Alan: 07909 752 772 Malc: 07980 284 331 email@example.com
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KYLE DIXON INTERVIEW
Black & White caught up with the youth team’s midfield dynamo and captain Kyle ‘Scholes’ Dixon to find out more about his life as a Notts County FC scholar. I would just like to thank Kyle for his enthusiastic participation in this interview – and thanks also to Youth Team Coach Brett Adams who made it possible. Are you a local lad, born and brought up in the are here for. If someone does have a bad time feeling a bit homesick then the lads are a close group and won’t area? ignore it and would try to get the player through the bad Yes, I was born in Nottingham’s QMC and was brought up times. initially in Hyson Green and then we moved to Whitemoor near Aspley and I’ve lived there since I was 8 - so for 10 Do the youth team squad socialise together at all? years now. Yes, all the lads are very close and when we socialise Who did you play football for before joining Notts we normally go to either the cinema or out for food, we mainly go on Wednesdays to the cinema because its 2 County? for the price of 1. I think it’s important that the squad I was playing regularly for my school team and also for do things together outside of the club to bond as a group the year above me. Playing against older boys really and also to relax and be themselves. I enjoy spending helped me to improve as a player. My PE teacher put me time with the lads. forward for my local district team which was Nottingham City Boys and I played for them on Saturday mornings for It’s good to hear you and your dad are both Notts four years and that also really stretched me and brought fans – who is your favourite Notts player – and me on as a player. The first team I played for outside why? of school was Vernon Colts and I played with them from My favourite player from the past is definitely Danny when I was five until I was twelve. Allsop. I will always remember his penalty that he took I really enjoyed my football there as everyone around me when me and my dad were sat in the family stand and was so helpful and supportive. Sadly the club folded so I he scored a penalty against Blackpool and I think we moved to play for Calverton Colts and although I enjoyed ended up winning 1-0 and ever since he scored that goal my time there as well I was only there for a few months. I thought he was a great player. Of the present squad it At the time I was being watched by Derby, Forest and would have to be Alan Judge. Notts County. I had trials at both Derby and Forest but neither seemed ideal but then Notts County offered me I think he is a great player now and he’s still pretty young a trial when I was fourteen and I have played for them so he still has a lot of time to get even better. In training ever since. It was great that I had joined the club I had everything he does, he does with his heart and you can supported from a young age thanks to my dad being a see the way he plays and carries himself that he would be a great role model to follow and I like to watch him on a lifelong Notts fan. Saturday to see his movements off the ball to see if I can So eventually you were offered a place with the mirror them in the games I play. youth team as a scholar. When did your nickname of ‘Scholesy’ first come That’s right. We all get two years as a scholar where we about and how do you feel about it? train to be footballers as well as study at a local college. The youth team is made up of a mixture of first and The very first training session I had with the youth team second year scholars. At the end of the two years the when I was an under 16, one of the older lads from club decides to either offer us a professional contract or Hayden Hollis’ year called it me and it stuck. From that point on everyone has called me Scholesy. Once I let us go. became a youth team player all of my team mates and So what does your working week as a scholar the first teamers only knew me as Scholesy – I don’t think any of them even knew my real name – which I consist of? thought was quite funny. Everyone knows Paul Scholes We do football training all day on Monday. Tuesday we is such a good player who has been my role model since train in the morning and then have a gym session with I was a kid and with people calling me Scholesy it has the physio in the afternoon. On Wednesday we have made me even more aware of him and I always watch college all day where we work on a BTEC sports course him in games. If I can put anything from him into my which is very interesting but it is hard work. We learn all game I would be delighted. about the body such as muscles, bones etc., and we also look at the nutritional side of sports performance which What has been your worst moment as a Notts is interesting and also very useful to us as it’s good for County footballer so far? us to know what we should and should not be eating and drinking as trainee footballers. Then on Thursday we train My worst moment was the team losing 3-2 to Lincoln City in the morning and attend college in the afternoon and on in the FA Youth Cup earlier this season. It was all set to Friday we have a light session leading up to Saturday’s be a good night, we were playing at Sincil Bank in front of a decent crowd and we were confident we could win, but game and then Sunday is usually a day off to recover. we just didn’t do ourselves justice. We took an early lead I understand that the lads from outside of through Romello Nangle but after that the whole team Nottingham live locally in digs found for them by just didn’t perform as well as we can. the club – does that work ok? Romello scored a second goal near the end but we lost Although it probably is easier living at home, the lads 3-2 and the whole team were all bitterly disappointed. don’t mind being in digs. It’s sometimes hard for them That turned out to be the low point of our season and when they miss their families but the lads just get on with since then we have been on a winning run. Less than it and concentrate on playing football which is what we a month later we returned to Lincoln for a league game
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and won 3-1. When you think about the future, what do you want to achieve? I just want to play at the highest level possible for me, whether that’s Conference North or the Premier League, you’ve just got to work hard and show what you are about and hopefully a manager will like me and take a chance on me. I am ambitious and I want to play as many games as I can at the highest level I can. That’s the dream, I can only work hard and see where it takes me. Do you enjoy the role as youth team skipper? I love the role of being the captain, it’s something I thrive on every Saturday when its game time and I like to know that I’m trusted to lead the players on and off the pitch. It’s something I’ve always wanted to be and I hope that I do it well, it’s helping with my learning in the game also and I like the fact that players look to me for encouragement and a helping word when needed, it’s something I really enjoy. For the last two seasons the youth team have got their season off to a slow start and then in the second half of the season the team comes on really strong, playing good football and scoring more goals – why do you think that is?
I have played for. Last year though I only scored one in the whole season which was very disappointing and it was something I worked hard on trying to improve behind the scenes and it seems to have worked as I have started to score and recently scored seven goals in eight games which is positive and I want to try and catch the strikers and give them a run for their money. It’s very competitive between us three, we’re always talking about the goals and totals. Tell me about the moment you were told you would be in the first team squad for your debut at Scunthorpe. I was in Lawton’s Bar at the time. It was Monday afternoon and we had just finished doing a video analysis of a game and then my manager Brett Adams came up to me and told me that I would be travelling with the first team the next day and would hopefully be involved in the game at some point against Scunthorpe. I didn’t believe him. I laughed and remember asking him if he was serious. Eventually he convinced me that it was true. To know that I was going to be travelling with the first team that I had supported from a young age was just the very best feeling in the world. Do the few of you that have been involved in the first team have to take a bit of banter from the players in the youth squad that have not been involved so far?
In my personal opinion it’s because of our fitness. We put in a lot of hard work in pre-season and it can take a while for some scholars to adjust to the physical requirements. When the squad are all adjusted to what is required of them that’s when our fitness pays off. When we are really tested we usually come out on top when it comes to hard running, determination and desire as the lads are a great set of lads and work hard every day and that leads to us getting into better positions on the pitch to score more goals and create more chances.
Yes we take a lot of stick off the lads – but I wouldn’t expect anything less. We have a great set of coaches and players in the youth team set up and the banter is always flying around the dressing room. Anything we do after having a spell with the first team and they say “You’ve changed” or “You’re big time”, but you just got to laugh and get on with it because it’s never serious - the lads are great.
I understand that Mick Leonard and Brett like to instil good habits and some discipline into the players. Is it true you can only wear black boots and you have to play with your shirts tucked in your shorts at all times?
I remember a lot about the day because it’s something I will never forget - it was an amazing experience. We got the coach from Meadow Lane and travelled close to Scunthorpe’s ground where we stopped at a hotel for a pre match meal. The food was very nice but I was nervous about knocking over my drinks or burning the toast because I didn’t want to be the centre of attention for the wrong reasons. Despite my best efforts I did actually burn a piece of toast so I blew away the burnt smell then hid the black piece of toast behind the toaster. After the meal we left the hotel to go to the ground and I remember seeing the signs for the ground and I started to get nervous again and my legs were twitching. I couldn’t wait to get my kit on and warm up with the rest of the lads that were involved.
Yes they do and yes we do have to wear black boots. All the players in all the academy and youth teams have to do this. Only if you are fortunate enough to get a professional contract can you then wear whichever colour boots you like - and yes we do have to play with our shirts tucked in – it does look better that way though. Does seeing last year’s youth team ‘keeper Fabian Spiess playing in the first team give the current squad a lift? Of course it does. It shows that if one past youth team player can get into the first team then what’s stopping any of us from getting into the first team? It’s a great thing to see and it gives us all a boost. I’m sure more of the youth team will get a chance in the future and when they do I hope they impress whoever it may be At the time of this interview I think the only guys who have scored slightly more goals than you this season are strikers Malachi Moore and Romello Nangle so your goals return is a very good one for a midfielder – has that always been a part of your game?
What do you remember of that first team debut?
I was on the bench and after about an hour into the game Joss Labadie went down injured and I was told to warm up. My whole body was shaking with both nerves and excitement. Joss recovered though so I sat back down again until the 90th minute when I was again told to warm up. As I went to warm up Joss went down injured again and this time he couldn’t continue and I heard the call “Dicko!” and I sprinted to the dugout and stripped in record time. I was subbed on for Joss for my first team debut and I couldn’t stop smiling for the entire three minutes I was on the pitch. As I was going onto the pitch I could hear my family, who were in the away end, screaming my name. I will never forget that day!
Yes, I have always scored goals for the various teams
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Dave Fells @MagpieDave
OH REALLY, RAY?
When Ray Trew, a rare visitor to NottscountyMad these days, popped up during January to address a few issues, his post was bound to cause some reaction. The aim of this article is to analyse Mr Trew’s comments and post my own thoughts on the situation. Before I begin, I would like to place on record my support for the Trew family and their ownership of Notts County Football Club on the whole. I am as grateful as the next fan for their decision to buy the club, not putting the club into administration, bankrolling us to the tune of £12 million and allowing the club the chance to progress in League One. I understand the desire to keep the club sustainable and cutting extravagant costs. However, I worry that that desire may well have gone too far, and penny pinching is rearing its ugly head at Meadow Lane. Mr Trew’s major bugbear is attendances and the lack of fans coming down to Meadow Lane on a regular basis. Unfortunately, in my mind at least, the Chairman has created a rod for his own back over this issue. Since taking over, he has continued to raise ticket prices whilst the football on offer, whilst pretty on occasion, is not good enough or consistent enough to warrant £23/£24 a ticket. Times are hard financially for a lot of people, and the raised prices coupled with a poor home record with defeats to teams like Rotherham, consistently poor managerial appointments and the loss of the “Munto momentum” was always going to hit attendances. As such, changes need to be made.
RayTrew Posted 08 Jan 2013 17:01 The main purpose of this posting is to correct the inaccuracies that have appeared predominantly on this site but also also in the media . I will begin by stating that whilst i am disillusioned at the moment with the falling attendances (which is now severe ly impacting on the clubs cash-flow) it is not in my character to give up on anythi ng, so despite postings and rumours to the contrary, I will state for the record that myself and my wife are here to stay. Now onto the clubs finances and player signings which are two hot topics intrinsically linked. As I eluded to previously, the club is suffering from the loss of gate Reven ue due to poor attendances and this has a knock on effect on the monies we are allowed to spend on player wages due to the “Salary Cost Management Protocol” introduced this season. I know many of you will retort by saying our average attendance is not much lower than last season but that figure is camouflaged by the fact that we give away each week no less than 500 tickets to the school of the week every home game and in some cases this could be as many as 1000. There are mechanisms that would allow us to spend more on players salaries and that is via new capital being put into the club. To-date since my tenure began, a total of £12 million has been invested in this football club and the vast majority of that has gone in via share capital. On a personal level i am not prepared to increase that sum and the only way i will inject furthe r monies into the club is in the form of loans and if i am being totally honest I am not motivated to even do that curren tly because i am not being supported by you the fan base. Furthermore, it should also be noted that this football club has the 6th highes t wage bill in our division (this is fact and not fiction), so no one can accuse the Board of not backing the manager or indeed having ambition. Unfortunately, the only way we are able to bring in new players to this footba ll club is if we offload current squad memb ers. However, before that can happen we have to claw back a £70k overspend, otherwise come the end of the season we will face penalties/sanctions impos ed upon us by the Football league. I hope this clarifies the situation and puts an end to the doom and gloom mongers that frequent this and other social media sites.
What changes? Firstly, I would appoint a proven manager in the lower leagues with a track record of success. I understand this will cost money, but I’d rather appoint the right man with a change of success than take a punt of a Keith Curle or a Paul Ince who, it could be argued, only had proof of failure on their CVs. Someone like Ronnie Moore, or Eddie Howe is what we need – the investment in a decent manager will reap its own rewards in the long term, I feel. Mr Trew has publically stated that we have the sixth highest budget in the league, yet if it’s wasted on the likes of Tom Williams and Carl Regan, we could have the highest budget and it be of no use!
Secondly, I would lower ticket prices and offer more incentives to go to matches. I’ll take the recent Bury match as an example. The game was moved to Friday night so the Sky cameras could see us take Bury apart (eventually), which prompted the club to lower tickets to £10 if purchased in advance of the game, and kids were allowed in for a quid. The result, despite the match being held on the Friday, was an attendance of 5,795, which was more than attended against Carlisle and the highest home attendance since New Year’s Day! Personally, I’d like to see it done a bit more often, especially at night games when attendances are often down on Saturday games. Thirdly, I wouldn’t moan to fans on a messageboard about “disillusionment” and “lack of motivation”. It certainly doesn’t send out the right message to fans that also put their money into the club. I must admit to
feeling disillusioned myself when Mr Trew posted what he did. Surely a large part of the Chairman’s job, at least to your average fan, is to promote optimism and encourage fans to go to game. In my opinion, he doesn’t achieve that with that message. By all means explain the situation, but at least give us some positives to get fans down to Meadow Lane Since the post was written, things have changed at Meadow Lane. Keith Curle was relieved of his duties less than a month later, and was replaced by Chris Kiwomya, which some would argue isn’t the most dynamic or ambitious of appointments. Results have improved, though these come against relegation threatened teams at home. Unfortunately, attendances have not really improved, which won’t have helped Mr Trew’s mood in the Notts boardroom. I’m not sure what the future holds for the club – I fear that unless Mr Trew invests some of the money saved in other areas in a worthy manager who can use his budget efficiently, we’ll plateau in this division. Interesting times lie ahead.
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Drew Dennis @DrewNotts
SEMPER MUTUUM FENESTRA
Admittedly, this article is a variation of a theme I wrote on TheNottsBlog back when the last transfer window closed, but the January window just brought all those old feelings (and a few new ones) flooding back. But in short - transfer Deadline Day has turned people into idiots. The hysteria that Sky Sports have stirred up is just embarrassing – the reactions from supporters of our club who somehow are yet to get used to our transfer market failures even more so. Such is the apparent magnitude of Deadline Day that it has to them become “one of the most important days of the footballing calendar”. Where did it all go wrong? The last Deadline Day was greeted with disappointment simply because Notts hadn’t left their spending until the very last day. Where is the logic? Why suddenly did the acquisitions of Bartosz Bialkowski, Gary Liddle, Dean Leacock and Francois Zoko (amongst others) mean so little? To me, back then holding onto Alan Judge was the priority and in itself would be a pretty decent statement of the club’s ambition for the season. Conversely, fast forward to January and I do question whether Judgey’s sale would generate the finances required to fasciliate another play-off push. That said - perhaps he’s not the hot commodity we like to think he is? But if top brass are prepared to take the chance of him leaving on a free transfer come the Summer then what choice do we have but to agree with it? Yet when we have lead ups to the deadline like the one Notts fans had this year, the reactions do become a little more understandable. After all, we were told just two days prior that our manager had the green light to bring in a striker. Excellent news given Ray Trew’s bleak broadside to supporters via Mad weeks earlier.
majority of Notts supporters were crying out for a striker. And this was whilst we still had Lee Hughes on the books. Regardless, there were occasions over those past two and a Jokes aside, of an apparent seven half campaigns where even the best man list of targets, two were down. strikers in the world couldn’t have And so with 12 hours left of the helped us some days. window though, disappointment inevitably struck. Radio Nottingham’s But currently, and I make no excuses Dave Jackson tweeted not only about for the pun – it really is that black O’Grady – but that it was unlikely any and white. Too many games have signings would now be made. Let me passed with the opposing goalkeeper re-iterate, there were still 12 hours barely breaking a sweat for his remaining! Had Curle just decided to afternoon’s work. Defensively we’re keep his remaining cards held close well equipped, but the pressure they to his chest in fear of a last minute face in near enough every game snag? Of course not. We’re simply through a lack of us taking a hold not that clever (or discrete?) to pull of games has clearly begun to take toll on them mentally. A goalscorer is that sort of thing off. exactly what is required to take the There are two trains of thought from pressure off the defence. here, and I’m undecided as to which is better. We get this news early Sadly though, on days like Deadline in the day, we’re not left to work Day, we’re routinely gazumped - be ourselves into a frenzy right up until it understandably by Championship 11pm. But on the other side of the sides who can offer more money, coin – it will inevitably leave many League One rivals and greater worrying that the club has just given crowds, or relegation fodder feasting in for the day to go home and watch on tournament prize money. But you Jim White get himself in a lather on can’t help but be jealous and wonder Sky over Villa who’s signed for Aston what’s going wrong when players Sylla or something. Whatever the like O’Grady, Forte, Lee Barnard, Bamford and Bradley train of thought, we had reached a Patrick point where people who didn’t want Phillips are being passed around us to sign Chris O’Grady were now seemingly without even the slightest disappointed we didn’t sign Chris consideration for Notts’ promotion aspirations. O’Grady! Barnsley from under our noses. The only thing that could make matters worse was if Keith Hill was still in charge of them!
But it’s important we don’t forget how good the loan market was to County last season though. Players like Kieron Freeman, Lloyd Sam, Johnathan Forte and Daniel Bogdanovic – and even Damion Stewart and Dele Adebola were sound acquisitions that played key roles in a surge towards eventual Play-Off disappointment. And bar Stewart and Sam – none of them exactly excelled immediately at Meadow Lane!
Jason Scotland was training with us and about to sign with the club – until Barnsley swooped in at the last minute. Despite supporter’s concerns over the quality of the formerSwansea player, he scored on his Tykes debut. Sheffield Wednesday’s Chris O’Grady is another player to There have been times since we were agree terms, only to be stolen by promoted to League One when the
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The full reasoning behind such failures would likely take up a couple of pages in themselves. And hopefully some day they will. But until then, surely the time has come where we no longer let ourselves get caught up in the Deadline Day hype that every other club gets to enjoy? Oh, and that article title? It’s Latin for “Always The Loan Window” (so Google tells me at least) - words to live by at Meadow Lane. Stu @BlackWhiteZine
WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG
The sacking of Keith Curle has divided opinion between many of us Notts fans. The split between outcry and total support for the decision, particularly over well established social media networks, has been quite staggering.
As Chris Kiwomya has made a positive start in the hot seat things seemed to have calmed down a little, I thought I’d take the time to reflect on what could have been the factors that led to the old management team’s demise – in particular the quality, or rather lack of, short term and loan signings. No-one can deny that some of Curle’s permanent signings have been outstanding acquisitions: Bialkowski, Liddle and Leacock to name just a few. However, when publicly stating that the squad wasn’t finished and needing an additional striker, what we got instead left a lot to be desired. The short term contracts handed to Tom Williams and Carl Regan were, in my eyes, bizarre to say the very least. An ageing centrehalf who had only been playing conference football recently and a much journeyed right back was never going to appease supporters. Did Curle feel Williams could challenge Leacock, Liddle, Smith, Pearce, Hollis and even possibly Bencherif for a starting berth? Only he will know. My view, and that of many others, was that this was never going to happen and his brief cameo appearance at Crewe certainly supports this. Regan, it would seem, came in as cover for Julian Kelly, a very capable full-back, who did end up getting injured. But couldn’t Liddle have played there, even Jamal Campbell-Ryce? Furthermore, as he entered the coffin-nailing 3-5-2 stage of his managerial stint, this type of player was never needed anyway. Very recently, in comments made to the local press, Kiwomya stated that Curtis Thompson is ready and may very soon get a start at right back. Why couldn’t Curle have given youth players a chance? This is an already endearing side of the new manager’s philosophy. Then, as the season went into October and early November, the same squad needs were still apparent. Lee Hughes was out of favour, we needed another striker – we got Jordan Stewart, Ashley Eastham and the potential return of Damian Stewart. A journeyman left back, covering for the suspended then injured Alan Sheehan and another pair of centrehalves. Eastham was poor, end of, as Francois Zoko found out against Bury. Damian Stewart – one start, one sending off, never to be seen again.
Declining crowds, exceptionally woeful home form and seemingly draw after draw. Despite this, offers were made to extend the contracts of the Stewarts. Why? Did we really need them? Were they going to transform our season? No, simply not. Shortly after came the departure of Hughes and many supporters were in uproar (this didn’t include me) and in his place another ageing journeyman, Chris Iwelumo. Where was Curle getting his player list and advice from? Unsurprisingly he didn’t provide the goals we needed and his loan wasn’t extended. What is so obviously annoying about these decisions is that not one of the short term or loan signings had a positive effect on the field, but it had a negative impact on the Salary Cost Management off it. This came really apparent as striker after striker was linked, even trained, then ended up signing elsewhere. Surely the money used on these players could have combined to that little extra that would have secured the much needed striker? So, eventually, the trigger was pulled and Curle departed, for me it was the right decision. The journey from St Helens to the San Sirrell had become difficult, even depressing at times. As Kiwomya took the reins his first two loan signings were, unsurprisingly, young, hungry ambitious forwards, trying to make their way in the game. Yes, their impact has not been that of Tom Ince’s, but they have been a welcome change to those provided by Curle. With this promotion of youth – Kelly, Arquin, Labadie, Hollis have all come back into the mix and there are others reportedly on the verge of first team call-ups. The right way to go? Definitely. Quality first team players, with the clubs younger professionals to be given the chance when needed – this is the model we need to follow from now and into the future. With many still insisting that the decision to sack Keith Curle was the wrong one taken too swiftly and with many others saying it needed to happen, and using the current upturn in results to back this up, I wonder if Curle rues these signings that he made? Only he will know, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
January came around and we were in a slump.
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Stephen Moore @9_Moore
WHY FANS ARE BEING PRICED OUT OF FOOTBALL Credit crunch. Recession. Austerity measures. Debt. A depressing list of words that we have all become increasingly familiar with over the last few years and which all mean one thing – we have no money. On a national, local and personal scale, the people of Britain have had to become experts on making savings by buying budget, cutting luxuries and generally reducing expenditure. However there seems to be one notable and high profile exception to this: the world of football. Actually that isn’t correct, because many football clubs felt the pinch long before it was trendy to do so (don’t Notts fans know it!). More correctly, I should say the exception is the Premier League. Premier League teams continue to flash the cash, paying their superstars amounts per week that the average person would only earn in a decade. And we, the fans of all clubs, are paying the price for it. The quest for the Holy Grail that is a place in the Premier League has meant that clubs have taken and do take risks with their finances by paying too much for players, paying players too much and racking up huge debts. With the advent of financial fair play, under which clubs cannot repeatedly spend more than the revenue they generate, this practice is coming to an end, but it is also shifting the onus onto clubs to generate more income themselves in order to at least maintain their standards. The obvious way that football clubs make money is by getting people through the turnstiles. But the problem is that during the boom years prices rocketed, in part because of demand, but also, according to former FA chairman Lord Triesman, because of the hike in players’ wages.
particularly true when we keep losing at home. It has been widely publicised that Ray Trew is disappointed in the small crowds at Meadow Lane this season, but with people’s budgets During a recent conversation between squeezed and a likelihood that we my dad and uncle, they recalled the are going to lose, surely it is not a days when a ticket to watch Notts cost surprise? the same as a pint of beer. ‘One and three’ was the price quoted, for those Thus it was that the falling attendances of you who understand old money. were given as one of the reasons that Nowadays, even with the price of Keith Curle was relieved of his duties, beer having gone up, you could still while the recent brief appearance in get about five pints for the cost of a the High Court over unpaid tax bills came after a late payment due to match ticket to see the Magpies. cash flow problems caused by falling The BBC’s ‘Price of Football’ survey attendances. found that even in these difficult financial times, the cost of going to The fact of the matter is that Notts is watch football matches in England suffering financially because too few rose by 11.7 per cent last year – more people are prepared to pay the price than five times the rate of inflation. of a ticket to come and watch. Maybe The headline figure from that survey if tickets were still the price of a pint was that the most expensive ticket in that would not be the case. But what the country was sold by Arsenal at a is clear is that if you are struggling staggering £126. I mean, seriously, financially, stopping going to the who would pay that? The trouble is, football is an easy way to save money. someone evidently is paying that It is hardly an everyday essential and the rest of us are suffering for when there are bills to be paid. it because it helps drive prices up further. That is why it was so welcome Credit must go to the chairman and when Manchester City fans refused his staff for the incentives and offers to pay the £62 that the Gunners the club runs to encourage more were charging them to watch their people into the stadium. Hopefully team play at the Emirates earlier they will give attendances a boost in this year. City returned nearly a third the run-in to the end of the season. of 3,000 tickets in what must be an unprecedented stand against rip-off But whatever happens, it does not ticket prices in modern day English change the fact that football is pricing many of its fans out of the game. Let’s football. hope they realise that before it is too Ticket prices at Notts, like at most late. League One clubs, are pretty Helen Faccio expensive for the standard of football @HelenBeighton we get to see (no offence lads). This is Where one club went, others followed and we now have a situation where even going to watch a lower league match costs an arm and a leg.
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IT HAS been a frustrating second season at Notts County for right-back Julian Kelly. But the everpositive Londoner believes all is still to play for as he talks to PAUL SMITH about contracts, formations, managers, goals and THAT Bury game. Julian, we have just drew 1-1 at Tranmere, but you were sacrificed to go from four at the back to three in the second-half once more, you must be pretty annoyed with the formation changes at the minute? I actually came off injured in the game and won’t be playing on Saturday against Carlisle either. I done my calf in during the game I just felt it and didn’t know what had happened so came straight off but the physio doesn’t think it’s that serious so I should be back soon enough.
come back sometimes I haven’t been in the team and it is frustrating because I just want to be playing games. Tell us about when you first signed for Notts in the summer of 2011 when Martin Allen was the manager.
It all happened really quickly. I didn’t know Martin Allen but he had been involved in the Reading set-up where I was so he knew about me and had watched me a couple of times. He rang me up in the summer and said do you want to come down to Notts and I went down and signed That must be really frustrating because you have straight away. It was very quickly, literally he rang me had your injury problems, particularly with your up in the morning and by the time I went to the ground hamstring. Is it a case of managing that at the I was signing. moment? What attracted you to the club? That’s right I just have to manage it and hopefully I have got my ‘hammy’ back now, and like I said against When I came I didn’t know too much about Notts County. Tranmere it was my calf. I just hope next season I I knew the club had been around for years and was a can have a fresh start and a clean slate and avoid any good club but when I came up and saw the stadium and the history of the club everything looked good. Martin injuries. Allen told me the chairman was right behind the team You had suffered with injuries before you came to and that we had good fans and when I signed I thought Notts, but the Tranmere away game was actually we’d be getting promotion if not last season then by the your 50th league game for Notts – is that a good end of this. landmark to reach for the club? Obviously it can still happen this season and anything Definitely. When I first came I just wanted to play as is possible. And I definitely believe that even if we don’t many games as possible and I wanted to get to 100 by do it this season the club is in a good place and the the end of my contract if I could have done! But 50 in two foundations are there to get up next season or eventually. years in the league is good but I want more. It is good to So you must have been disappointed when Allen, have on my CV but I want to play as many as possible. who had signed you, was sacked during the And it probably would have been a lot more but second-half of your first season? you have had injuries, the recent change to three at the back and also the form of Kieron Freeman at When he went I was disappointed because he signed me and he had a lot of belief in me and he gave me the end of last season in your way… confidence. When Keith Curle came in I had to bide my It was frustrating when Kieron came in but he done well time and he told me I had to show him what I was about and when someone is playing like that there isn’t much and in the end I won him around. you can do. This season has been a bit up and down for me because I have been injured, and then when I have And now of course he has gone too, so in your
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two seasons at the club you are onto your third those nervous meetings at the end of the season! manager in Chris Kiwomya. Is that level of change Do you want to stay at Notts? disruptive for you and the team? It is a little bit disruptive. I had been at Reading for six or seven years and they only had three managers in all that time and now I have had that many in under two years at Notts. But I knew what Notts County was capable of when I signed so it hasn’t really been a surprise. I knew the club had history of that.
I definitely want to stay. My missus is from Nottingham and we have our first baby coming in a month plus there is the club and the fans. It’s just a nice club to play for. I have met my missus since I moved here and have been with her for about a year now. So that is a reason to stay for my family but also because it is a good club to play for.
It is quite disruptive the players when a new manager comes in and makes changes and then another one We can’t let you go without mentioning the recent 4-1 win over Bury of course. Back in the team comes in and wants to make changes. you were at fault for their so you must have been And a lot of the players appear to have been very pleased to score your first of the season? upset when Keith Curle went judging by comments from the likes of Dean Leacock and Alan Judge on I was really lucky to get that goal – my first of the season – after making that mistake giving them the ball. It was Twitter. Were you the same? their first shot and they scored. When you do something He was a good manager and he was good at man- like that, for the players, the manager and the fans management. He kept the squad close together and it you just want to make up for it and think ‘I have to do wasn’t too serious – everyone was happy. The way he something now’ so I was so happy to score. played was that he let us play. A lot of us like to pass the And your celebration showed that. Booked going ball and that is the way he wanted to do things. into the crowd and that dance… Some say Chris Kiwomya – so far – hasn’t changed too much from Keith Curle. Do you think much has Everything was in that celebration! It was my first goal of the season, we hadn’t been doing well and I’d made changed? a mistake. When I scored it was game on and they got I wouldn’t say he has changed things drastically but he nervous. I was just like ‘let’s do this’. has his own little things he has changed. A little bit has changed but he still likes us to get the ball down and play Always when I watch football and someone does a funny celebration or dance I love it – not like doing an Alan so things haven’t changed massively. Shearer that’s just boring. So I did everything, I was Having said that then, are you confident he is the hugging the fans and dancing – I was buzzing. man to take us to the next level, with Kiwomya You scored three last season and you always seem now in charge until the end of the season? to get important goals as well. Do you think this is Yes I am confident he can. He has played at the highest an area you can contribute regularly? level for years and he knows what it takes to get there. He has got good coaching qualities and gives good advice I always set myself a target of getting four goals, and obviously I got three last season and most were because he has played the game at the top. important but I think I scored when we were already 5-1 And Curle came in at a similar time last year with down to Sheffield United but the rest were important. I us needing a good run to get into the top six which think I can score goals and hopefully I might get more we nearly did. Do you see any similarities to the before the end of the season. situation with Kiwomya coming in? And that goal against Bury was actually the first by It’s the same. They both came in after we had started a defender this season. Have you had any banter the season well but then had a bit of a dip. With Keith about that with Alan Sheehan, Gary Liddle and Curle and now Chris Kiwomya coming in, it is a similar Dean Leacock? situation. Hopefully now we can go on a run like we did I didn’t know that until Sheez mentioned it. Me and him last season and try and make the play-offs. had a bit of competition last season and I think he scored As we talk there are 12 league games left going three last year as well but he had one own goal and tried into Carlisle at home. How many do we need to win to claim that as his fourth. He also put the ball in against Carlisle but it was actually (Francois) Zoko who scored to make the play-offs do you think? an own goal! We have got to win seven or eight of the games – maybe more. The players are still confident. We have still got to One thing it does sound is a good team spirit at Notts, despite losing the likes of Mike Edwards play Brentford and Swindon – teams like that. who you will meet against Carlisle again and of If we can beat them we will be back in it but we know the course someone like Lee Hughes. next four or five games are crucial. There has always been a good team spirit here. It will be And there is plenty more to play for too of course good to see Mike Edwards everyone loved him last year as you are out of contract in the summer. Have you he was a good guy and of course Hughesy was a massive character and it is a lot quieter when he is not around heard anything about that? because he was a loud character! It is all up in the air and nobody has mentioned anything Paul Smith because two weeks ago we didn’t even know who our @PSmithyJourno manager was going to be so it is going to be one of those things where we might have to wait. It might be one of
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Wishing both Notts County FC and Black & White all the best and hoping both the fanzine and Keith Curleâ€™s Notts take us all the way to extra time and penalties this year!
LuSam PHOTOGR APHY www.lusamphotography.zenfolio.com firstname.lastname@example.org Portrait Wedding Nature
with added emotion
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30 YEARS OF HURT
Something dawned on me the other day, this season is the 30th anniversary of my first Notts season ticket and it was also my first year as a Junior Magpie.
on what could be described as the longest magical mystery tour ever made. Some clubs, you just know that give or take a season here or there, that they will be in mid table every year, but Notts don’t do mid-table, it’s win or bust for us almost every single season. Easy to understand why we are the club that has been relegated more times than any other club in England and we have changed divisions more times than any other club in the country. In my lifetime I have seen six relegations and four promotions (1980-81 doesn’t count unfortunately as I only saw that reserve game that year!) add to that two play-off defeats, a couple of great escapes from relegation and a few near misses to get in the playoffs, it has been one heck of a ride.
Overall I have been a fan of this great club for 32 years, thirty two years that began in the old old first division and has seen action in all four leagues of the English game, trips to Wembley, even Europe! Managers have come and gone (far to many!) and the ground has had a complete revamp and it has been far too close to dying more times than I wish to remember, but in amongst all that, this club got under my skin and stayed there, and despite me living away from Nottingham for the past seven years or so (at time of writing), it is still there and From my first full season as a Notts constantly growing. fan, 1981-82, which just happened I sometimes blame my dad for it, he to be the clubs first season in the top was a Notts fan and so it stood to flight of English football in 55 years, reason that I would be too. It must to this year, our 150th anniversary have been hard for him though, season and just two short years after our whole family being of the red the whole world knew about Notts persuasion who had just won two County due to Sven, Sol and the European Cups with one of the whole munto saga. Memories, loads greatest managers this country has of memories, including how I played ever seen. To be seen as a fan of the for the junior magpies, scoring the other side in the city at that time winning penalty on the hallowed must have been an oddity which it turf of Meadow Lane in the lifeline was if you look at it, and that’s one of 6-a-side tournoi, playing for the the things that makes being a Notts mailing lists team, and a 12 hour day fan great, the uniqueness we have trip to Notts from Eastbourne whilst in our own home town. The constant at university to see Richard Butcher patronising, belittlement, put downs, (god rest his soul) score that goal v condescending, media ignorance and Wycombe. being treated as second class citizens in Nottingham by those who support How my life and moods seemed to the reds and the media who fawn be connected to Notts performances at their every move has made sure (no wonder I was a moody so and that we have an extremely thick skin so!) and also how living away from and broad shoulders (not with chips Nottingham and having a long on!) but we rise above all that and distance relationship with the club we pride ourselves on our footballing made me fall in love with the club intelligence and actually, rather than that bit more. blame my dad, I thank the lord that he took me to Meadow Lane and I wouldn’t change it for the world that he was a Notts fan, because I being a Notts County fan, and now, wouldn’t want to support anyone else my step kids are being educated into the wierd and wonderful world in this city! that being a Notts fan brings, they From the very first match I was taken know if we have lost to leave me be to (a reserve game v Sunderland if I and if we win it’s almost party time recall right which we won 1-0!) to the in the house. To be fair, that first most recent game I saw, I have been season as a season ticket holder,
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1982-83 was a great year for Notts, our best season in the top flight in my lifetime, overall though, a few seasons stand out more than most over those 30 years, funnily enough promotion years stand out! But out of all those 30 years, two stand out more than most, 1990-91 and 199798. Warnocks promotion year added to the FA Cup run to the quarters, winning at Wembley again, but also playing for the junior magpies both home and away, going on memorable away trips to play the other teams juniors, being on a bus with Millwall juniors and being told I was going home in a London ambulance! I’m surprised I didn’t poo my pants right there! But what a season it was and it ended at Wembley, but also for me it ended at Meadow Lane and me playing on the hallowed turf, and scoring a goal at the Meadow Lane end then running to the old County Road stand with arms held aloft, it was such a great year to be a Notts fan. The year under Allardyce may have been in division three, but not many clubs if any will have that type of season that broke so many club and national records, and to think out of the 46 league games, i attended around 44 of them, made it such a great year and so many memories of great games at Lincoln and Exeter, falling through a gate at Chester and ending up on the running track as Gary Jones had just scored, the pitch invasion after beating Orient when we had not only won promotion but the Championship as well, and that magnificent day when we collected the trophy and beat Rotherham 5-2, such a great season and one that still lives with me to this day. So what will the next 30 odd years bring, a lot of heartache I’m sure, that comes with the territory of being a Notts fan, but there will be success and promotions, and whatever it will be, like I said earlier, it’s a magical mystery tour, step right this way. Ian Marsden @IanMarsden76
HOW MANY AT THE BACK?
It’s clear the Notts County supporting part of my brain has short circuited itself. Our current inability to win football matches against all but the most hapless team in the league (sorry Portsmouth) has sent me into a flat spin not seen since Shaky T “bought” the club off Fatty King Voldemort for a non existent tenner. weather improves. Or maybe Manny Smith and Julian Kelly have clauses in their contracts that forbid them playing unless there’s an x in the month. Or maybe Mr Rodwell and Lionel Messi’s agent are at this very moment hatching a deal to bring the diminutive Argentine to the Lane as There’s no logical explanation really. Notts long as we bed in his preferred 3-5-2 formation County teams have been masters of the mid first. Help me out here, please. season slump since Iremonger’s day, so it’s hardly unexpected. Having personally endured There is an argument that CK did not have time 23 seasons of mediocrity with only the odd to try out a new formation and the players would nugget of success shining through the shite, not have been able to adapt. Sorry? Four at the there really is no reason for tenth in League One back is as old as time itself, while three at the to feel as bad as it does. Hell, I’ve even managed back is positively foetal as far as our squad is to align my four visits to the Lane this year concerned. To suggest that professional football with 2 of our 5 home wins, so it’s not as if I’ve players are neither intelligent or flexible enough suffered anywhere near as much as most. But to revert to a system they must all have played somehow, as the uninspiring tones of the Lamex in for 99% of their careers is nonsense. To quote Stadium announcer mispronounced a Notts side a tongue tied fan I heard recently, it’s not rocket (Frances Zoko?) that still contained only two and surgery. a half defenders at best, something inside me Only Mr Kiwomya knows whether starting with a gave way. defeat cloned from Keith Curle’s DNA, however Chris Kiwomya for Keith Curle. A neat reversal unprepared he may have been, is likely to of initials if not the most inspiring managerial prejudice his employers. I wouldn’t have kept swap, but enough for me to want to squander that formation if I was him, not if I wanted hard earned funds to stand in the Hertfordshire the job permanently. Fat chance of that now I wind and rain hoping for…, well just hoping suggest - as my match going colleague noted really. This after an indefensible loss to divisional drily, “if you’re going to sack Curle and replace whipping boys Hartlepool just three days him with a new broom to freshen things up, then previous, and a fruitless trip to Brisbane Road why use an old broom?” the weekend before where I saw enough to know that three at the back in League One is suicidal. So to the match itself. Extraordinary for all But a new manager is a new manager, even the wrong reasons. Any new manager bounce if he’s a caretaker. One must do one’s duty in extinguished after a record breaking 25 seconds as an unmarked Hoskins stroked in a deflected tough times. shot at the near post to a combination of startled Having managed to convince Aldgate based cheers and the sound of 215 Notts hearts Adam to come with me, we had a few chuckles breaking. We pondered long, but in the end I over my promise to blub if we started three at resolved to e-mail the Knowledge (the Guardian’s the back. Even a tactical dunce like me could see football anorak information series) as we must that is not part of the answer, but surely a big have just witnessed the shortest managerial part of the problem. Particularly if the question honeymoon in footballing history. The rest was is “why are we suddenly losing away?”. After all, depressingly inevitable - the usual catalogue of four at the back away worked just fine for a year, possession without penetration, missed chances and only when Keith ditched it did the record that somehow managed to be neither on target breaking run go up in smoke. If it ain’t broke nor actually saved, and a stream of let offs from don’t fix it (unless the last guy fixed it wrong a deeply unspectacular Stevenage side who so you fix it back sharpish), right? Wrong. In really didn’t have to try very hard. All topped the most inexplicable case of turkeys voting for off with a bog standard headed second in the Christmas since, well, Christmas, Kiwomya sent last minute. The clean sheet for ninety minutes the boys out with the same shorthanded defence inbetween utterly meaningless. that had done for his predecessor. CK did deviate from the script a bit in subbing Maybe there’s a cloud of collective insanity Showunmi for Zoko and there were again known as three at the back that has engulfed echoes of Mr Curle as the now traditional Meadow Lane, and it won’t disperse until the Hamza substititution was made. At least Both my wife and my long suffering match going companions have tried and failed to inject some perspective to derail my irrational rants but I simply refuse to have it. The roof has caved in on our season and taken me with it.
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that meant we ended the match with two recognised strikers, but it was ultimately as effective as the proverbial deckchair Titanic interface. Waite and Tempest on the bench as mere window dressing then. Did we really have anything to lose by playing either?
When your team is defensively compromised and hopelessly goal shy in attack, the attritional psychological effect of watching multiple matches is a bizarre feeling. It doesn’t hurt enough to sting but there’s a dull lingering ache that just won’t go away. Toothlessness to toothache if you will. But that still doesn’t explain why I have lost the plot now? After Eugene Dadi and Gary Silk, after Havant and Waterlooville (at home), after 1-6 at Dagenham & Co and 0-4 at Boston (Dagenham and Boston for God’s sake!), after Munto and Trembling and more false dawns than you could shake a 24 year old jumbo sized bag of sticks at. Hope. That’s why. A big shiny bucketful of hope based on a staggeringly good away run and 4-0 thrashings of Carlisle and signing people I’d heard of (Zoko, Leacock, JCR) and warming to people I hadn’t (Arquin, Boucaud) and what by common consent is the weakest third division in decades. Enough hope that I could overlook a home mugging by Walsall in August as we nurtured an impressive quick passing style long absent from the club. So much hope that I foolishly believed the departure of a certain shiny pated 36 year old would not ultimately matter. Hope borne from finishing outside the
play offs only on goal difference, our highest league position in 16 years. It’s not like I thought we’d get promoted, but you know, play-offs were surely doable. Not any more. So it feels like betrayal, not because our strikers can’t score in a Dutch red light district’s worth of brothels, not because he let Hughes go before we replaced him, not because he subbed strikers for Bencherif (say what?) at least twice, not because of that home record and not because we gifted goals to poor sides with comedy defending so many times you could bank on it. Let’s not talk about cup games and disciplinary records either. It’s the three at the back thing – like rabbits caught in headlights I tell you. I don’t know what crazy viral impulse convinced Curle to adopt it away in the first place, but it looks like the nasty infection spread to whoever so much looked at him as he as the corridors under the Pavis. It’s the League One equivalent of tying a breeze block round your neck and pitching into the Trent. On the plus side, if CK sticks with it long enough, then a relegation battle beckons and my expectations will be reset for another decade. Either that or he - or whichever luckless patsy replaces him - switches to a flat back four and we get spanked anyway. Happy days!
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THE GOALKEEPER’S UNION
Having been understudy to the great Peter Schmeichel at Manchester United, played alongside the legendary Dane’s son Kasper at Meadow Lane, and made more than 400 career appearances, Kevin Pilkington is surely as good a judge of a good goalkeeper as there is.
nice to get to 150 but I wouldn’t wish injury on Bart to make that happen – maybe if we were 7-0 up!” joked Pilkington.
“Bart has done well. Some of the saves he has made and some of the games he has played have been different class. Sheffield United away he was outstanding, and So when the Notts County goalkeeping coach claims Yeovil away. He has been very consistent so far, touch current Magpies number one Bartosz Bialkowski is wood. Bart, in my opinion, is the best goalkeeper in this League One’s best stopper, while stating his young league by far.” understudy Fabian Spiess can go on and play at the top But there were reservations by some when Bialkowski level of the game, you can do nothing but listen. signed. The Pole had spent six years at Southampton, Pilkington is just over a year into his current role at largely as back-up to Kelvin Davis. However, in a televised Meadow Lane, after answering the call of previous boss Championship promotion clash against Blackpool at Keith Curle to end his 18-year playing career and move St Mary’s, Bialkowski was given a chance with Davis into a coaching role in February of last year. The 38-year- injured but made several blunders that have made him old admits he was left with a tough choice as he was a Youtube hit. It was the first thing many fans turned keen to prolong his playing days, then with Blue Square to when he replaced Stuart Nelson as Notts’ first-choice Bet Premier side Luton Town, for as long as possible. But keeper. With Pilkington having a big say in that decision. having delved into coaching “on the side” with the British Universities and Loughborough University football sides, “Nels did fantastic,” said Pilkington. “He was a great while taking his badges, he decided to take Curle up on lad, a great professional. I’m pleased for him that he is doing so well down at Gillingham. It was a decision the his offer, as Pilkington himself explains. manager made that he thought we needed someone else “I had kept in touch with Keith since our Mansfield days in, and that whoever was going to come in was going to and he said he had been offered the Notts job and would be the number one. We didn’t want someone like Nels I fancy coming in as goalkeeper coach,” he said. “It was – who could go and get games elsewhere – sat on the a big decision for me because at the time I was still at bench. Luton playing, albeit not in the team at that time, but still enjoying being involved in the day-to-day side of being “I was out looking at goalkeepers towards the end of last a player. So it was a big decision for me but one I had to season just in case anyway, and Bart was a name that look to because it is my future and what I want to do for came to me and we found out he was being released by the next few years. It was a great opportunity for me – I Southampton and spoke to a lot of people about him. knew the club really well and it was a good opportunity “When he signed everyone was on about that game against Blackpool when he made a couple of mistakes to work again with Keith and the club.” but that is the life of a goalkeeper. I spoke to a lot of Around the time he signed for Notts in the summer of people who spoke highly of him and it was nice we could 2005 from local rivals Mansfield Town, Pilkington admits get him in and so far it has gone well.” he was contemplating stepping away from the game that had been his life since signing on as a trainee at But the 25-year-old is being pushed all the way by Old Trafford, and being part of the famed FA Youth Cup Spiess who made a stunning impact when he replaced winning team alongside the likes of David Beckham, the injured Bialkowski away at Leyton Orient, making Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes. Coaching wasn’t on his some outstanding saves and keeping two clean sheets agenda. But having endured a “nervy” first week in the in five games. goalkeeper’s coach role at Notts, he is now enjoying leading the day-to-day work of Bialkowski, Spiess and Having been linked with Manchester United and third-choice Liam Mitchell, another youngster who like Tottenham last summer, Spiess is clearly highly thought Spiess has graduated through the Youth team to make a of – and Pilkington believes he has a bright future. “He did fantastically – absolutely brilliant for us. We first start for the club this season. had no qualms about putting him in and we knew he “If the call hadn’t have come from Keith I would still have could deal with the situation. He has come on leaps and been playing now,” revealed Hitchin-born Pilkington. bounds this season. In the four or five games he played “Luton wanted to keep me on and I had other offers to he was different class and did really well. I was really carry on playing as well so if Keith hadn’t have called I’m pleased with him. sure I would still be playing now. I’ve looked after myself and enjoy keeping myself fit. I still love goalkeeping. “He did his job, he did fantastically but Bart has been When I join in training now and then I absolutely love great all season and at the moment he is our first choice it. I have still got that hunger for it as I have for the and when you have your first choice available you are going to play him. He is a bit more experienced than Fab coaching side of it now.” and we decided to put him back in but it was a tough Pilkington is infact still signed on. When Mitchell went decision. on loan to Mansfield earlier in the season with no option to call-back and Spiess was injured, an end to the loan “He has got a good head on his shoulders and he wants market meant he had to sign up as back-up to Bialkowski. to work,” Pilkington continued of 19-year-old Spiess. “He But the chance for his 150th Notts appearance never works hard every day and has massive potential. There materialised and now he is delighted to be working with is no doubt he will go on to bigger and better things.” goalkeepers he rates so highly. Paul Smith @PSmithyJourno “I’m stuck on 149 appearances so it would have been
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HOW THE OTHER HALF HAVE LIVED
Given how much is made of Notts’ “top six budget”, I roped in Tranmere Rovers fan (the best of a very bad bunch) Sam Robinson to explain what exactly his club had done so well this season, given that their own budget is the second lowest in nPower League One. After spending the last three years embroiled in a relegation battle until the latter stages of the season, sometimes the last day if you look back as recently as 2009, one of the last things Tranmere fans expected from this campaign was to be involved in a promotion push. I hate to say it as merely aiming to stay afloat, to me, shows no ambition but most, I think, would have been fairly content to cruise to a mid-table finish provided that we were never in any danger of going down. Instead, we’ve been treated to a side that has been in the top six since the opening day of the season, playing some decent football at times, and with just four points separating the top seven sides at the time of writing, still firmly in the chase for automatic promotion.
what others may say or think, our up playing League One football in place in the standings is not false; 2013/14 then the hard work will feel the table does not lie, as the old like it was all for nothing. saying goes. It was a similar situation in the Whilst we have quality within the 2007/08 season when we were two squad, there is little depth to it minutes away from making the playand we are really suffering with a offs but finished 7th, missing out on 6th to Scunthorpe, who went on to plethora of injuries at the minute. win promotion. As mentioned earlier, Indeed, of the XI that had us top Moore was sacked shortly after. earlier in the season, we are missing Ultimately, if the season ends without five of those players. us gaining promotion but finishing in We do not have the biggest or oldest the play-off places, it must still be squad in the league and losing seen as a success given our small veterans like Andy Robinson, 33, and budget and playing squad. Ian Goodison, 40, does little to help However, circumstance and context the average age of our starting XI. change things slightly and I have to Most of our starting line-up at admit that I am a bit disappointed, Yeovil on March 2nd, I would say, but not surprised, that we’ve allowed will be under the age of 23; it has ourselves to be caught up after being been round about a shade under 25 so far ahead at the top at various for most of the season. For such a points earlier on in the season. youthful side to do so admirably Maybe I just expect too much… bodes well for the future at least.
That is some turnaround given that we were staring relegation to League Two in the face after a run of 1 win in Until the bigger clubs come along and 21 games just a year ago. poach our better players, anyway. It makes what we have done so far this season a real surprise to a lot Shrewsbury’s manager of fans. With the farcical last three Graham Turner used us seasons we have had, it’s nice to as an example when speaking to the press finally be doing well. recently about wanting The massive irony of it all is that a level playing field in things only sorted themselves out the game because clubs when Ronnie Moore came back to aren’t spending within the club a year ago, returning almost their means. three years after his undeserved sacking at the end of the 2007/08 He said: “I don’t think it’s a level playing field season. when you get a club It seems like the time spent under like Tranmere, who are the ‘management’ of John Barnes battling for the same and Les Parry was a complete and places as Swindon, and that is promotion. utter waste of time. With that said, credit must go to our chairman, Peter Johnson, for having the balls to swallow his pride and ask Ronnie to come back. Likewise, Ronnie deserves credit for everything he’s done since coming back.
“Tranmere do it and live within their means. They can’t afford to go out and sign the sort of players that Swindon have done.”
It does get mentioned a lot in relation to us, particularly this season given how well we’ve been doing, but given our budget in relation to the rest of the division, we have absolutely no right to be where we are in the table.
Whilst it is always nice to hear your club receive praise, it will mean little to me unless something comes of what we’re doing on the pitch. It’s all well and good saying that we battled hard to compete with the big boys throughout the season but if we end
Despite our relatively low budget, we have still managed to bring in some top quality players, as our league position would suggest. Contrary to
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Sam Robinson @SamRobinson
THE PROJECT - FOUR YEARS ON
After three and a half years at the club, I think it is fair to say that Peter Trembling, or Trembo as he’s affectionately known, can be rather happy with what he has achieved during his tenure. Ok, he may have got off to a rocky start of sorts what with that Munto Finance nonsense. However, subsidiaries and grocery debts aside, he’s not done too badly since.
Edging ever nearer, we are finally on the cusp of the promised land that was spoken of many moons ago when the circus first arrived in town. In what is now the fourth year of the project, I am delighted to see that we are well on target to be in the top flight inside five years. In fact, it’d take a monumental collapse from David Beckham and Co’ to mess up our 18 point lead we currently have at the top of the Championship with ten games left. This is a lead even that likable chap Keith Hill couldn’t throw away. There have been many ups and downs over the past few years but ultimately, it has been an exciting ride. When I look back on those dark days when the pessimists told us that it would all end in tears, I now laugh at the audacity of such people to not trust Trembo. After all, In Trembling We Trust. The doubters are rather quiet now.
stays, we will be quite alright. Off the pitch, it was fantastic news in the courts this week when Trembo won his court case against supporters of that lot over the river. The fact they are now legally not entitled to the word Nottingham in their name is a victory for true common sense whilst purchasing the land on which they ply their trade, charging rent and moving the Rugby Club in as joint tenants is possibly the most sensible signing Trembo has made since Del Piero in the summer.
And talking of Del Piero, he is just one of a number of players that, since Trembo won our hearts, has arrived at Meadow Lane to finally give us long suffering fans some real pleasure on the park. Del Boy partnering Delroy Facey up top in the last derby game, was as an enjoyable moment as I think I will remember in my lifetime with the later of the two bagging a hatOn leaving Meadow Lane on trick which has firmly established any given Saturday, one can the number 22 as a true legend. now glance towards the Cattle Market and witness at first hand Add to that the likes of Beckham, the future of our club as the new Shaun Derry and Roberto Carlos stadium nears completion, ready joining ranks with Neal Bishop, for our imminent Premier League Kasper Schmeichel and the bow. Complete with the monorail evergreen Ricky Ravenhill and linking the ground to the wonders it is clear to see why we have a of Nottingham City Centre, the recipe for success at present that train station and suburbs such as is more than good enough to hold Broxtowe and Calverton, we now its own in the top flight. have something that the club and To some fans though, a true City can be very proud of. measure of success this year will I am delighted that at last we come in a few weeks when we appear to have stability too. With travel across the aforementioned Trembo hiring and firing at the river to play on a patch of land rate of a Chairman who runs a we now own, knowing a win club that toys with mid-table in will almost certainly consign League One, it appears to be a our neighbours to League One timely announcement that Sven football next season. will step-up to the managers hot seat after the dismissal of Glenn It may have been a long time Hoddle who spent only thirty days in coming but finally we are the locals of which people want to in charge. know more about even if Radio Sven has been here throughout Nottingham chooses to focus the good and bad days of the on that lot each week whilst project and I am very much of reminiscing about just how good the thought that as long as Sven John bloody McGovern really was.
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Have they never heard of Don Masson or what? At Notts County, we have been accustomed down the years to having some sort of drama at the end of each season. A relegation dog fight, a windingup order, a must win game to save our Football League status or a dramatic Play-Off Final. We have been to the depths of nearly becoming extinct on too many occasions and whilst the media talk of sides like Swansea and their meteoric rise, they’d do well to look at just how far we’ve come in a short space of time. But this now appears to be a thing of the past. A seemingly easy procession towards the end of the season awaits along with an expected open top bus celebration and the announcements for the new season tickets at the Cattle Market Stadium due any day now. But at £600 a season ticket to watch the Magpies in the Premier League in our 45,000 all seater, it’ll be a snip won’t it? Soon we will be on Sky on a weekly basis, sat in close-tocapacity stadiums and travelling to places such as the Emirates where you may be lucky enough to pick-up one of their £70 tickets for the away end. We will see the likes of Luiz Suarez falling to the ground, thousands of fans being escorted by police to our stadium and characters such as Carlos Tevez trying to manoeuvre a move to our club via endless agents. Add to that the fact that we get regular breaks from live games due to Internationals too and the top flight promises to be everything we’ve come to expect. It is the promised land after all. The place where we have always wanted to be. Isn’t it? Luke Williamson @LukeWilliamson DISCLAIMER Only part of the above is based on reality.
CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN HAMZA
Algerian players have been few and far between at Notts and by my reckoning we’ve only had two - Rachid Harkouk – who provided me with one of my earliest Notts memories when a wayward free kick hit me full in the face in the front row of the old family stand – and Hamza.
Despite being unable to hold down a regular place in the team following the arrival of Gavin Mahon last season, Hamza has remained a member of our squad. Therefore, I decided to ask him some questions on Notts, football in general and Algeria.
its always only been a rumour.
Obviously, KC’s time at the club has come to an end. As so many of the team have a high opinion of him, what were his strengths? His strength really was to have a close relationship with the squad and he would do anything to protect his players no matter what. He really got the team together and bonded. What has been your favourite moment in a Notts shirt so far?
Why did you decide to move from France to Even though Juventus was a friendly its part of England originally? history and to be part of that was special. My goal at I’ve always been attracted to the intensity and passion of Rochdale for the win to keep a run and kick start the English football, the most spectacular football is played new era was a good feeling. here so I came as soon as I learned my trade. How’s the travelling to St Georges going? Are Who has been the biggest influence on your career Francois and Yoann ever on time?? so far? It’s really good to have such good facilities especially this Football wise its John Pemberton, a coach at Forest who time of the year as whilst other people struggle to train doesn’t get enough credit for his work. John taught me we haven’t missed a single session. Them two haven’t a work ethic and application that helped me so much and changed their clock coming to England so just got to he developed so many players that other people get the make meetings 10mins earlier! credit for. And of course Keith Alexander who managed to get me to a higher level of confidence and throw me in And how is Yoann’s English coming along? Are you still having to translate for him? to senior football. His English is really good, he speaks and understands How did your move to Notts come about? really well, he’s just a quiet guy in general. I came out of a good season at Macclesfield and had interest from a few clubs. However, as an adopted Do you follow any teams back in France? Nottingham boy combined with the ambition shown to me by people at the club it was a no brainer to move PSG. Coming from Paris it’s impossible to not know what’s happening with them. There is a massive obsession here. that’s developed this year with them. At Notts, you have played all over the park. What is What do you make of the Beckham move to PSG? your favourite position and why? My favourite position is box to box midfielder. I love to run about and get a tackle in on one side and a shot in on the other. I really like to be involved defensively and offensively How does it feel to have been a squad player for most of your time at Notts? How do you keep yourself motivated? It’s been hard not to have helped as much as I would have liked but my main characteristic is hard work. I never give up on anything and am a man of my word. I’ll always try to work as hard as possible and honour my commitment . There were rumours during the transfer window about you joining Lincoln. Have you ever considered asking the Gaffer if you can go out on loan to get game time? We have had talks with the gaffer about loan moves to get some game time but it has been a difficult season and with the suspensions and injuries I’ve always been needed especially as I can play different positions. I love Lincoln and had a great time there but
It’s a massive commercial buzz and advertisement of the club - there isn’t a single team in the world that wouldn’t be improved with someone like Beckham in the changing room, his experience and knowledge of football is just a weapon for any team! Algeria has been in the news a lot recently. Any thoughts you would like to share with people about Algeria? It’s a really difficult subject because with politics you don’t know none of the real reasons of anything they do! It’s just really sad that the people that pay for it are normal citizens of everywhere! As for me, people can take me for my word, Algeria is just so beautiful, the mountains, the beaches, the desert people over there are so nice, helpful and kind. It’s an amazing place that has suffered many years of colonisation and civil “war”. It is really surrounded by political vultures for its petrol and gas unlimited wealth and in a recession that makes you a world political target.
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Graham Farquharson @gfarquharson
Ah the south coast, how I love it. If it’s not me throwing up over the side of a boat on a stag weekend, it’s watching Notts rescue a point with two goals in injury time. Or bizarrely, bumping into Martin Allen on a Sunday morning hammering the 2p slots on the seafront in a quest for transfer funds. Possibly. down well. “What sort of club could employ that man? Or what kind of supporters would cheer him?” comes from the home crowd. We laugh it off, it’s hardly new ground for Notts fans is it? But we do mutter under our breathe how a club can afford to pay for the services of Izale McLeod yet still have creditors on their knees across the local community. In a And so I made my way south on the sense – we’ve just equalised. train via British Rail. Regular readers of The Notts Blog (yes, all four of What happens next isn’t particularly you) will be well versed in all that malicious – just sheer ridiculousness nonsense now. £90. Nine hours. on Aston’s part as he spills his pint Five trains. Two buses. One tube on the floor. A gent’s jacket takes train. And as you’ll now discover – a minimal splash damage for which number of angry Portsmouth fans. Aston apologises profusely. In return But trust me when I say it wasn’t all for offering to buy this gentleman a drink as way of an apology, he’s told our fault. “I think it’s about time you lot f***ed Well, ok maybe it was. They all happened to me in Bournemouth – Portsmouth though was uncharted territory given that Sean my driver (who by the way harbours much resentment for not getting namechecked in what I wrote about this day for The Daily Mail) decided we would skip the recent FA Cup tie.
By the time I reached Fratton, it was hammering it down. We’re talking rain of almost biblical proportions. The game being postponed an hour and change earlier wasn’t of concern to me by this point – getting swept away in the current very much was! I made it to Wetherspoons though, where Jacob had a pint of Strongbow waiting for me. Top man! This was just the first of an assortment of drinks downed with the intention of simply making the most out of a bad situation. A bottle of wine through a straw helped somewhat. With 3pm approaching, we made our way around the pub to get a view of a TV screen where we could watch the day’s footballing events unfold on Soccer Saturday. The first priority, keeping an eye on Lee Hughes’ Port Vale debut, with a sly eye on Peterborough’s game at the Temple Of Sin. To our left were a set of middle-aged Portsmouth fans, harmless looking truth be told. Well at first that seemed to be the case at least.
off now, don’t you?”. We’ve still got hours left til our trains home. It’s still pouring it down outside. Obviously we disagree and carry on with our afternoon salvaging. “I think you’re right” Aston agrees, “I’m just off to get another pint”.
As the afternoon progresses, it becomes clearer that our presence in “their boozer” hasn’t gone down well. Greg Halford has given Forest the lead against Posh. One Pompey fan chimes up: “Oh I do bloody love Forest, what a great club with a rich history”. Yeah, we nearly threw up too. Fortunately for us, it isn’t long before news comes through of Ricky Lambert giving Southampton the lead at Aston Villa. A brief rendition of One Ricky Lambert” quietens things Our first action of the afternoon down a little. Maturity is hardly the comes after Hughesy has given Vale name of the game on this occasion. the lead. Some of the assembled County fans do the Hughesy – I Having been the ones on the refrain – I’m simply not drunk enough defensive all afternoon, I take it by this point. Regardless it doesn’t go upon myself to spice things up a
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little. Doncaster Rovers snatch a late winner and I ask Jacob how much it affects the clubs who have a chance of promotion this year. Aston goes a step further by saying he’s thankful Notts aren’t in a relegation battle. A line has been crossed, somehow. This is a club who’s very existence could end amy day – yet relegation is what sends them over the edge? Fair enough The thing is, we thought the verbal tennis for the afternoon was all just banter, we were only there for a laugh and aren’t the violent types at all (although in a weak Danny Dyer moment I did ask Jacob to watch my bag in case things got “tasty”.). The entire table now join together in an audible battering of the senses. I struggle to recall much of what was said – in fact I mostly pinpoint the flashpoints of the day just by looking at the afternoons scorelines! Needless to say, plenty is made of this being “their manor”, and that we should be respectful of their plight. Things don’t deteriorate any further. Nor did they ever really need to. Terrace anthems aside, and even if they have survived another court date, there remains the very real possibility that we’ll never play them again after lateJanuary’s dour victory. Looking at it like that, it would’ve been a shame for things to end on a sour note. We say our goodbyes which are greeted more out of relief than sadness. Understandable. And so we head for the train home picking up more beers for the journey home. The little I remember of the journey back to London would probably make for it’s own story one day – but I’d prefer personally we keep those stories to ourselves. Oh, apart from Jacob getting locked in the toilet and needing to be rescued by the ticket man with an over-ride key for the train’s electrics! Everyone should know that much at least! Stu @BlackWhiteZine
MODERN FOOTBALL - BE AFRAID
With Notts playing Bury on the Friday, the 23rd of February was down as a Saturday without a match and I couldn’t be having that, fortunately an opportunity came along and I got hold of a spare in the Villa end for their trip to Arsenal, so off to the Emirates it was.
I went knowing full well of other fans moaning about the pricing, atmosphere and how Arsenal is what’s wrong with modern football, but what hit me that day was horrific, I wasn’t prepared for just how monstrous the place would be. The first sight that gave me an idea of what was ahead came at St Neots train station as I waited for the train to Finsbury Park, grown men sat there dressed as if they were applying to be the next member of One Direction with the addition of a red and white scarf wrapped around their necks, the platform was full of them and more of them got on at every station and listening to some of the conversations, it was clear some of these ‘fans’ knew very little about Arsenal or football in general, it was embarrassing. Next came the walk to the ground and standard prematch activities on a non-alcohol fuelled away day, this was quite possibly the most depressing hour of my life. It quickly became apparent that we would never be out of sight of opportunists flogging any old Arsenal related crap or the mugs that were buying it. ‘Official Named Arsenal Replica Shirts - £10’ one sign said, with Van Persie shirts going for a fiver, I genuinely believe I could make more realistic looking shirts out of red card, but still people were buying them! Then we came to what we thought was a burger bar, tempted, we looked in… ‘Veggie burger -£4, add humous for 50p’. I was stunned, HUMOUS? Again, we moved on, having a quick look at each stall and having a disgusted chuckle at the expensive crap on offer. On the hunt for some cheap tat to add to my collection of cheap tat from around the grounds, I went to set foot in the club shop, ‘No drink, no food’ one of the door supervisors rudely said in broken English before I could enter. I wasn’t entirely sure what he thought I was going to do with my plastic bottle of Fanta, but I didn’t hang about to find out and moved on towards the stadium going over some bridge. To be fair, the outside of the stadium is quite impressive and gives you a lot to look at, but the atmosphere around the outside was appalling. Surrounded at all times by what were clearly tourists, the Japanese seemed to be the most represented, some dressed in suits, carrying shopping bags, presumably from an earlier city centre jaunt, clicking away capturing literally everything on their cameras/iphones/ipads. Then, the most disgusting thing I have ever seen at a football match - foam fingers, bloody foam fingers, what’s that all about? I just wanted to cry. Milling about here was totally alien, there was no community feel like you get in the lower leagues, no friendly discussions between different fans about the state of the game, absolutely nothing and this is what scared me the most. It was just totally unwelcoming and not ‘fan friendly’, yes it was friendly for the crowd Arsenal are aiming for and their clientelle, but this is most definitely not football fans.
The hi-viz jackets dotted around said it all, on the back it had ‘Customer Support’. Inside the stadium was no better, after getting past the security guards and metal detectors, I was met by the expected extortionate prices, £4.10 for a bottle of Carlsberg. Even with a massive urge to drink myself into a coma to forget what I’d seen, I relented and stood back to watch Fulham-Stoke, the early kick-off. Finally, some resemblance of the football I’m used to, a concourse of football fans having a good time and sharing their for the love of football and their team, conversations about actual football, I was relieved and happy again, but then some bright spark from within the hierarchy decided to turn the football off and instead thought we would all love to know about the 30% off training wear offer and various other irrelevant adverts. Brilliant. Moving into the away section, I got to see the stadium from inside… big let down, no character, no soul, nothing, even with the Arsenal fans inside, there was nothing, as expected, in fact they were worse than expected. Thousands of empty seats about, but a given attendance of 350 short of full capacity, a sign of just how many tourists or rich jonny come lately season ticket holders hadn’t even bothered to come or give their ticket to a mate and that’s a common occurrence. The match itself was a good one and I thoroughly enjoyed my time in with the Villa fans, but the lasting memories of the day will not be of the game, but of the devastation witnessed beforehand. The one saving grace was the £14 ticket, getting in as a 15 year old and not the £96 that was charged when Spurs visited. Modern football is a disease and I truly hope I never have to experience that again and if that means Notts staying in the lower leagues, staying ‘tinpot’, then so be it, it’s proper football, what we fell in love with, the character, the soul and that vital community feel, and I pray we never lose that.
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Aston Perrin @AstonP
1862 AND ALL THAT
1862. Every true Notts County fan knows the significance of those four digits. In fact I would wager a bet that quite a few even use them as their PIN, though not necessarily in that order. 1862, the year of our club’s ‘birth’, remains a source of pride that sees us through the toughest of times. Since the turn of the century (and once or twice before then) our very existence has looked uncertain, but the undisputable truth that we are the world’s oldest surviving football club has surely helped us to survive. Hand in hand with that distinction goes the fact that we have played more competitive matches than any other existing professional club. Powerful stuff. How could such a national treasure become extinct? Not only that, but if we had ceased to trade at any point in the last 20 years then it would have been first Stoke City and second our illustrious neighbours who would inherit the title of the world’s oldest professional football club. What a hurt that would have been. Maybe it was our wonderful heritage, (we’re older than the FA itself), that made us a target of Munto’s scurrilous scam. Many posters on MAD got very uppity at the time, proclaiming us to be a brand of inestimable worth due to our longevity. What they feared was a sell-out by the trust for mere peanuts when our ‘brand’ was significantly enhanced by our history. It is typical of the Premier League-focused times we live in that neither the FA nor the Football League made more of our 150th anniversary than it did. We are an essential component of the original 12 founder clubs of the world’s oldest league which should reinforce our heritage, but the game at large is more concerned with tomorrow’s fat pay cheque than honouring its own traditions. We are talking here about the very first club in a game that Britain gave the world. Of course, had we been Manchester United, the BBC would have made a one hour celebratory documentary at the very least. It will be interesting to see whether Stoke City, the next in line, get more of publicity’s glare when it is their anniversary than we managed. What we did achieve was a recognition by the Royal Mail in the form of a limited edition of special commemorative stamps. Did you get yours? Set in a tasteful black, white and gold colour theme, the stamps themselves feature Jackie Sewell, Tommy Lawton, Les Bradd, Albert Iremonger and Don Masson. Issues-wise, the stamps highlight our 1894 FA Cup success, the signing of Lawton, our record league one points total, Jimmy and Jack and the founding
of Lifeline. The work of the club’s media team on this commemorative pack was superb, making the issue worthy of framing and mounting on any committed fan’s wall. Indisputable facts are hard to come by, but the conventional wisdom is that we were officially born on the evening of November 25th 1862 at what is now called the Mercere Hotel. I am told that the room at which the meeting took place is recognised by a brass plaque on the wall. Next time I’m in town that’s where I’m headed. Should such an historic room not be acknowledged in literature issued by the area’s tourist information offices? Stand back and wait for those Yankee tourists to flock over and celebrate the birthing room of ‘Soccer’. In that year of 1862 the Battle of Cane Hill was waging in the American Civil War, Lewis Carroll was writing Alice in Wonderland and the law was being amended so that robbery with violence became punishable by flogging, a shortening of the options offered by the ‘hang em and flog em brigade’. Sheffield FC had been incorporated five years before Notts, but never became members of the football league. (By the way, Forest were not one of the 12 founder members either. Tee-hee). In those early days, players turned up in their own gear and teams were distinguished by the colour of their caps rather than the shirts they wore. 20 aside was not uncommon and, because all manner of play now deemed to be foul was then permitted, umpires (when employed) had the easiest of times. (So in those days, hardly anyone ever said ‘Why do we always get the **** refs?’) In 1862 four feet each side of the main goalposts were two smaller posts and if a shot at goal went between the goalpost and these smaller posts, it was deemed to be a ‘rouge’ rather than a goal. Should the match finish up a draw then the number of rouges would determine the winner. Not a bad idea that – it promoted positive play in that the number of serious goal attempts might play a part in the game’s outcome. On the minus side, the goalkeeper’s role must have been a tough shout.
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Football in those days was a gentlemen-only sport. It is said that we were styled as ‘County’ because our nature was genteel (or ‘posh’ to you and me) as opposed to those ruffians across the Trent, uncouth savages who spent their days grubbing in woodland. County’s pitch in 1862 was a pastoral setting called Park Hollow in the shadow of the old Nottingham Castle, (roughly the area that is now called The Park). Being the first incorporated club in the area, opposition was hard to find and consisted of makeshift teams put together in nearby towns and villages. There was no central authority to organise fixtures so it fell to enterprising individuals to promote such contests.
woodcutters just two weeks ago. Er, may I propose myself as chairman? HUCKNALL Only if neither of those chaps, Pavis or Armstrong-Holmes fail to turn up. They are strong candidates and told me so themselves. SOUTHWELL Hmm, first business should be deciding upon a playing uniform. ASPLEY I have to ask, men, exactly what kind of club do we wish to establish? BULWELL A bloody football club, you pillock!
SOUTHWELL Bulwell, please do not revert to type. If we practise name-calling then the players will follow suit and then we shall In the decade following our inception, the sport develop a name for poor sportsmanship. What we need is a club that excites the spectator. made huge strides, the most important being its codification into a set of laws. Putting sport One that keeps them on the edge of their seat… generally on an organised footing was a passion for those Corinthian Victorians. ‘Work hard, play EASTWOOD A club that’s constantly involved in promotion and relegation then. hard’ had already become a meaningful epithet and so it was that the British proceeded to draw ASPLEY Who should we put in charge? We’ll up the frameworks for just about every sport need a boss of some kind: someone who we on the planet. Believe it or not, even the rules can change with great regularity. of ski-ing were framed in the UK or Britain as it was then styled. The only populist sports I can identify as not being British in their origins HUCKNALL It’s said that there is an association of clubs looking to form a league. and rule setting are ice hockey, basketball and lacrosse. SOUTHWELL We must look to join so that we may have days out at exciting places like What follows is a somewhat limited attempt Wolverhampton, Accrington and Derby. to reconstruct that first meeting of NCFC on a gloomy night in November 1862. I can only assume that the men gathered round the table BULWELL Derby? They’re all bloody sheep shshearers there. were blessed of both foresight and a sense of adventure. Their names are unrecorded by EASTWOOD Gentlemen, we will need a history (or at least unknown to me) so I have ground, somewhere we can call home. audaciously accorded them pseudonyms from the various surrounding areas, assuming that SOUTHWELL What about Trent Bridge, the gathering was from the city and its environs. where the cricketing chaps play? They too are Nottingham County. We can probably borrow ASPLEY (Banging beer mug and causing his their caps as uniform. pint of Home ale to slop upon the stained tabletop) Order! Order! Men, we are gathered ASPLEY What a splendid idea for a name for here tonight because we are like-minded souls our club – Nottingham County. who want to establish a team of fortitude and character in the burgeoning game of football from our city. In the northern city of Sheffield a BULWELL I’ll run it past our Sandra, but she’ll probably want summat much more down to team is already established but, being of rough earth than that. northern stock, they are ill-mannered and hardly know how to play the game. Recently in a much-advertised match, they could only field HUCKNALL (looking up at the ceiling): In years to come we could be known as not only the a paltry 11 players! first, but the greatest football club ever. We will BULWELL What’s wrong with that? I only wish win cups and championships and trophies and… that we in our tiny corner of Nottingham could LANDLORD: Time, gentlemen, please. Drink count to that number. up your pint of Fantasy Brew. Time to go home. ARNOLD A mere 11 players? Why, we took Alan Combes 23 to our not so friendly game against the
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LEE HUGHES’ TOP TEN NOTTS GOALS Jonno hasn’t shown up with his regular last page article, so I took the chance to go through the archives and pick out Lee Hughes’ top ten Notts County goals. Hardly a surprise what’s at number one - but the other nine were a lot of fun to watch, and rewatch again!
Certainly not as glorious a strke as some that’ll make this list, but definitely one of the most memorable. When our club was invited to take part in the opening of the Juventus Arena, few in world football would’ve given Notts a chance of getting anything from the game. Yet it was Hughes scrambling home a last minute equaliser that sent around 400 travelling County fans (and those watching back home or in MLSB) into rapture - As surreal a moment in football as any Notts fan will ever witness.
Martin Allen’s first win as manager came at the County Ground against Swindon Town courtesy of a goal on 85 minutes. A soon-relegated Swindon defence messed around the ball too much and in a panic gifted the ball to our number 9 who rounded Lucas in goal before slotting home. It would mark the first time Notts had come from behind to win a game in two years!
An FA Cup tie away at the Stadium Of Light was a long haul well worth any Notts fan’s time. With Sunderland sitting sixth in the top flight Notts had no right to take anything from the game. But already leading thanks to an early Craig Westcarr goal, Hughes would double the lead deep into the second half. He created the space inside the area to shoot at goal, but it would bounce into the air off ‘keeper Mignolet. The rebounded would be nodded back to Hughes who was more or less on the byline. With the travelling fans expecting to see the ball pulled back, Hughesy had other ideas - volleying the ball with a scissor kick through the eye of a needle. It’s difficult to imagine any that’s ever played for Notts managing anything as audacious as this.
Back where it all began. On the opening day of what would be an incredible 2009/10 season, Bradford City were the visitors to Meadow Lane where an expectant crowd - blissfully unaware of the drama the next six months would bring - would experience Hughesy’s first hat-trick in black and white.
Having the previous weekend kicked off their League One campaign with a 3-0 win at Carlisle United, a trip across the river in the League Cup was up next. Deep into injury time, Karl Hawley slotted the ball into Hughesy who collected and curled the ball around Lee Camp Chasing after a hopeful punt out and in off the post. of the defence, and gambling on a defensive error, he raced fully Were it not for Wes Morgan’s last 50 yards at goal to round the kick of the game equaliser, we’d have goalkeeper and finish for his first of bestowed an honorary Knighthood the afternoon. The first of many in upon Lee. As it happened, he ended what would be a great Notts County up blazing what would’ve been the winning penalty over the crossbar. career. And smiling about it. Bit weird? A goal memorable for no one The goal in second place without more than Hughes himself, question is Hughesy’s most his header at Molineux in the important - his 25 yard chip League Cup against Wolves (Baggies fans don’t much like them you against Rochdale on April 20th, 2010 know!) was beautifully executed to was the goal that for many would ensure Notts went on to win League get Notts the lead. Two. Neal Bishop collected the ball It was Mike Edwards’ ball in which in midfield after the indecision from would be looped over Hennessey Rochdale and his threaded ball was expertly in the Wolves goal. We’d guided into the top corner. 14 points lose 4-2, but Notts had put up a and all that eh? great fight at least in defeat. The I did say number one wouldn’t night would sadly be remembered come as a surprise. Hughesy’s for supporters coach being bricked goal against Walsall truly ranks on it’s way home, and for that Boing as one of the greatest in Meadow Boing t-shirt Lane’s history. Chesting the ball into On the day in which the club the air from Alan Judge’s cross on the celebrated 100 years at Meadow right wing, his vicious volley into the Lane, the fourth goal of the day top corner gave ex-’pie David Grof no put the seal on a great afternoon’s chance in the Saddlers’ goal. celebrations. That it came less than 48 hours after It was Ben Davies’ delicate chipped that equaliser in the Juventus Arena ball over the top of the defence which merely capped off an incredible week would be chested down and smashed in our club’s history. past Yeovil Town’s goalkeeper to Stu make it 4-0, all following a passage @BlackWhiteZine of crisp passing play starting back
A somewhat forgotten goal when you look back on some of his strikes, his lobbed finish at home to Darlington in the League One winning season was sublime. The final goal of four was classic Hughes - racing on to a through ball over the top before lifting the ball above the onrushing goalkeeper with the deftest of lobs from an acute angle for his second of the evening to leave Darlington still bottom of
in defence. It’s easily the best team goal in this countdown as far as I’m concerned.
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