After the Dagenham debacle and the fans’ ongoing split on Searle and the BOD going or staying, it’s time now to take stock and think about what could happen Saturday down at the Rec.
The manager has said (and he is correct in pointing out) that we are in a league where on the day, “anyone can beat anyone” though it is one of the oldest cliches in the great book of cliches.
Last weekend, Notts County went down 0-3 at home in a surprising defeat to Barrow, who now sit top of the National League. To me it wasn’t that surprising. I can remember saying to a Barrow fan I met up with before their fixture here after the game that they had a “tidy little team going” and could go places.
I didn’t imagine they would be top of the league material but at the same time, when Woking were at the summit and it was early doors and we’d alrerady beaten them, I didn’t envisage Woking finishing in the top six.
So as bizarre as it might sound, yes anything is possible on Saturday and our players were promising that we would see a REACTION after the dismal display at Victoria Road.
At the time of writing there is no pre-match release from the boss so no-one can gauge where he’s at on everything from tactics and team selection.
There’s a Shotsweb thread on Connor Shields and opinion on why he should at least be on the bench, or start even. James Rowe would be another hunch. We put on a slightly improved display second half last game but I’m not sure he’ll be starting.
Kinsella will be back of course and that might mean a return as skipper.
So while everything is being debated, here’s a look at the history of our visitors.
With a foundation date of 1862, Notts County FC is the oldest professional football club in the world. Despite the early start, however, they haven’t managed to claim a top-flight title; two third places in Division 1 (1891 and 1901). Their greatest success arrived in 1894, when they won their only FA Cup. They’re nicknamed “The Magpies” for their black-and-white kits, which were adopted by Juventus in 1903.
In 1891, the Magpies missed out on their first big chance to win a major trophy by losing 1-3 to Blackburn in the FA Cup finals. They made up for it three years later, with Jimmy Logan scoring a hat-trick in a 4-1 victory over Bolton Wanderers. This remains the only major trophy in the club’s history, as well as the first time that a team outside the top division won the FA Cup.
After many years of playing at different home grounds, Notts County moved to Meadow Lane in 1910 for a long-lasting stay. Still, this didn’t stop the team from yo-yo-ing between the top two divisions of English football. In 1930, they were relegated to the Third Division for the first time, though they managed to bounce back the very next season.
Wartime and freefall
In 1941, Meadow Lane was hit by enemy bombing, and the stadium was subsequently closed. To this day, this remains the only season where Notts County played no football whatsoever. Following the end of WWII, Notts County returned to the public eye by paying a then-record fee of £20,000 for Chelsea’s Tommy Lawton. This resulted in bolstered attendance at Meadow Lane, which helped the club return to the Second Division in 1950.
By the end of the ‘50s, however, Notts County lost the race for the city’s biggest club to Nottingham Forest. They were back in the Third Division by 1957, and were soon relegated to the Fourth Division for the first time in 1959. The club continued to struggle during the ‘60s, with most of their efforts aimed at avoiding the embarrassment of having to apply for re-election.
The Sirrel era
Things finally changed for the better with the appointment of Jimmy Sirrel as manager in 1969. During Sirrel’s time at the club, Notts County made huge strides, earning promotions to higher echelons of English football on a regular basis. This culminated in a historic victory over Chelsea and a return to the First Division in 1981. They remained in the top flight for the next three seasons, recording many notable results along the way.
In the years that followed, the Magpies continued to achieve solid results. They returned to the First Division for the final time in 1991, though they were immediately relegated again. This was the beginning of another long freefall, which came to a head when the club was relegated to the fifth tier of English football in 2019.
The oldest club?
Notts County FC is probably more famous for its heritage than its merits. It is generally considered as the oldest English club and thus the oldest in the World. Sheffield Wednesday is, however, sometimes mentioned as the oldest club. Which of the both that is the oldest depends if the foundation for the Sheffield club is set to 1857 or 1867. About that the opinions divide, but the latter is the most recognized version.
We’ll need a good bit of Lady Luck Saturday I know but, who knows what will happen. Most will be going expecting a home defeat and we’re under a dark cloud. But clouds move on, we know they do.
*Original copy on Notts County written by Martin Wahl courtesy of footballhistory.org