Notts County FC
0115 952 9000
Ground Number: 26
Saturday 12th April 1997
Notts County 1-2 Wycombe Wanderers
Nationwide League Division 2
TEN FACTS ABOUT NOTTS COUNTY FC
1: The club was formed in 1862 making them the oldest current Football League club. Non-League Sheffield FC are older, having been formed five years earlier but both pre-date the English Football Association.
2: Notts County was one of 12 founding members of the Football League, back in 1888. The club has played getting on for 5,000 games in the Football League, more than any other team. They've played in all four divisions, the best finish coming in 1901 when they finished 3rd below Liverpool and Sunderland. They've not played in the top tier since 1992 when they were relegated from the old First Division. Their worst league finish came in 2006 when they finished 21st in League 2 and were just three points away from being relegated to the Conference.
3: The club won the FA Cup in 1894, beating Bolton Wanderers 4-1 at Goodison Park, They were also finalists three years earlier, losing 3-1 to Blackburn Rovers at Kensington Oval. In more recent times, they've been more notable for defeats to non-league clubs - losing to Havant & Waterlooville in 2007 and Kettering Town the following year.
4: Notts County have reached the League Cup Quarter Final on three occasions, the last time coming in 1976 when they lost 1-0 at Newcastle United.
5: The club has played in Europe, albeit in the Anglo Italian Cup, in which they were highly successful. A competition created for second-tier teams from England & Italy, Notts County won the cup in 1995, defeating Ascoli at Wembley Stadium. The previous year, they were beaten finalists as they lost 1-0 to Brescia.
6: Record highs include an attendance of 47,310 for an FA Cup game against York City, a 15-0 FA Cup victory against Rotherham Town in 1885 and an 11-1 league victory against Newport County in 1949.
7: Famous former managers in the dugout at Meadow Lane include Sam Allardyce, Neil Warnock, Howard Kendall and Sven Goran-Eriksson.
8: Italian giants Juventus had their kit inspired Notts County. Originally playing in pink, their shirts became so faded with use that they asked Englishman John Savage if he could source a kit from his own country. A friend supplied him with some of County's shirts and they liked them so much for their 'strong and powerful' appearance, they adopted them as their permanent kit. The two teams played a friendly to mark the opening of Juve's new ground in 2011, Lee Hughes and Luca Toni grabbing a goal apiece in a 1-1 draw.
9: Prior to their move to current home Meadow Lane in 1910, Notts County led a nomadic existence, playing at various cricket grounds including the nearby Trent Bridge.
10: Famous Notts County fans are thin on the ground, with only serial killer Harold Shipman pledging his allegiance to the club.
MY PREVIOUS VISITS
My first visit to Meadow Lane was in April 1997, as Wycombe were fighting against relegation from the third tier of the Football League. Luckily my brother had won a competition on ITV's night time goals show and we had 4 tickets for free to a football match of our choice. So the next away game for Wycombe was the chosen one. We made our way up on the coach and got there in plenty of time for kick off.
The match itself was a good one. This was a real relegation 6 pointer, as well as Wycombe needing the points, Notts County were very likely to go down too if they lost. The Chairboys got off to the perfect start after Steve Brown caught County keeper Darren Ward off of his line from 35 yards to give Wycombe a first-minute lead. It was 1-1 not long after - chaos in Wycombe's defence allowed Sean Derry to get the equaliser. Steve McGavin put Wycombe back ahead on the half-hour mark, but the defences still continued to present both teams with chances. Somehow, the scores stayed 2-1 to Wycombe until the final whistle, giving us 3 vital points in our relegation battle. We then smashed Burnley 5-0 the following Tuesday and were ultimately successful in avoiding relegation.
I made several future visits to Meadow Lane, nine in total so far. We actually have a pretty decent record there, winning more than we lose. The most memorable visit was a 4th Round League Cup game, in which we triumphed 1-0 to set up a Quarter-Final with then Premiership side Charlton Athletic. We went on to the semi-final that year, before losing to Chelsea. Of all my 9 visits to Meadow Lane before my latest visit, we had won 5, drawn 2 and lost 2, making it a fairly happy hunting ground for the Chairboys.
VISIT 10: NOTTS C 0-0 WYCOMBE (L2, 30/3/18)
Once again, I was trying to revisit any grounds that I'd not been to in a while. Meadow Lane certainly qualified in that respect, with my last visit being nearly 10 years ago, despite the ground being one of my most visited. There was a bit of competition with the South West Peninsula Hop, but that would involve a long drive and I could never trust work to not call me in at the last minute. So I opted for seeing my team in what would be an important game. So, a ticket was purchased and coach was booked in anticipation of Wycombe potentially gaining a foothold in the promotion race. I’d been to the supporters club quiz night the evening before and had a few pints but I’d still got a fairly early night. I woke at 6 on the day of the game, watching TV and getting ready until it was time to leave for the coach. I got on at 9 along with my parents and we were soon on our way. As usual, the food orders were taken in advance - I opted for Chilli Con Carne and chips. The journey seemed to take forever, not helped by the usual shenanigans with long-running roadworks on the M1.
We eventually got there at 12.10 with the only choice for cider drinkers being Aspall which was decent, but unspectacular. Typically, with plans to go elsewhere, my meal was one of the last out, but I was still done by 1. I popped down the road to the Cricketers Rest, having a pint of the local Blue Barrel Sherwood Blend. It was a nice drop but I was disappointed not to get to a micropub near Kimberley Miners Welfare FC. Instead, I went to Heron Foods and got some snacks and soft drinks for later. I headed back to the Nelson & Railway, having another pint of Aspall before we left at 2. It was a short journey to the ground, but traffic made it worse. We got there twenty minutes before kick off and I was glad to see that we had brought a decent support, over 1,100 in total. Wycombe battled to a 0-0 draw and as much as I hate that scoreline, it wasn’t a terrible game. Wycombe might even have won it, we had a goal disallowed for offside and generally played well. In the end, though, a draw was a decent result, provided we do the business in other games.
Other results went for us and so we sit in a good place. It was disappointing to see a number of games called off or abandoned due to rain. As ever, the fans come last, all because of a negligible risk of injury to players. In that case, we might as well not play at all, in case a plane crashes into the pitch, we get a nuclear attack from Russia, invaded by aliens or the world ends. I’ve already had multiple matches called off close to kick off and it seems to be the Chinese year of the ambulance chaser. I just hope my game at Taunton tomorrow isn’t ruined, or if it is, an early decision is made. I got home at 8, typing up my blog and watching TV before listening to the Two Mikes on TalkSPORT in bed.
MEADOW LANE is a smart modern stadium which has not changed one bit since my first visit. It hasn't needed to to be honest, with a 20,000 all seated capacity, it wouldn't look out of place in the Championship. Sightlines and legroom are excellent, away supporters are usually situated in the corner the Jimmy Sirrel stand, which commands a premium. Previously they were seated in the Kop, now a traditional home end.
There is no bar for away fans and the supporters club and Trent Navigation Inn tend to be home fans only. The latter is a shame as it looked decent. Though I've not visited, pubs that let away fans in and look decent include The Embankment and The Trent Bridge Inn, the latter being a Wetherspoons. Food in the ground is the usual football food at a premium, though with Nottingham Forest and Trent Bridge being nearby, takeaways are plentiful, as is parking.