I’ve become known in recent times for being pretty spontaneous, and travelling to watch football that I probably shouldn’t care about, let alone spend my hard-earned money on public transport to get there in the first place. On that premise, County fan James’ message (he’s something of a regular on these blogs it seems) was only going to end one way.
Safe in the knowledge that James was considering travelling north for his beloved County’s home game against league newcomers Grimsby Town, I booked my train tickets on the spot. It was settled, I was dragging James along to watch his own team play at their own back yard. Silly, but that’s how I like to do things.
Sadly, being based some 172 miles from Nottingham, my stay in the city was to prove very brief. Cheap train travel comes with some very restrictive travel times, and as such, I was only in the city for some three hours. No matter, it gave me plenty of time to enjoy a game of football in England’s fourth tier.
We arrived in James’ hometown an hour or so before kick-off, giving us plenty of time to wander over towards the ground. Despite being told quite directly on Facebook that Nottingham is in fact the Midlands and not ‘oop North, the drizzly weather and distinct accent was giving me something of a different impression. I don’t want to comment too much on the city until I have the chance to explore it properly, because, as aforementioned, I wasn’t there for very long at all before I retook a seat on a train racing back down towards the south coast.
That being said, everyone I came across was friendly enough, and we quickly found our programmes before heading round to the club shop to see the newly released home shirt. As with most clubs, it’s exactly the same as the last one, except it’s now white and black instead of black and white. Will still cost you £40, mind.
It was in the club shop that we were offered the opportunity to have our photo taken with Notts County midfield maestro Curtis Thompson, an offer that we both politely declined. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not amiss to asking for an autograph, but Curtis looked particularly glum. Can’t have a photo if he’s not going to be enthusiastic about it. I like to think I have a fairly extensive football knowledge, but I’m not sure Curtis Thompson has even heard of Curtis Thompson, so we wandered out and back towards the Spion Kop end.
With £14 admission paid for a ticket in the Kop end, I found myself with a beer in hand on the concourse, contemplating a poster that advertised Paul Merson as a guest speaker at a testimonial dinner for County veteran Mike Edwards. Couldn’t work out the connection between the two, other than the former Arsenal winger-turned pundit is now taking money to waffle at corporate events. Having escaped a random fire alarm, which was seemingly blaring for no reason, we headed out to the top of the stand and awaited the days action.
With 70 minutes gone, there was no way back into the game before Jonathan Forte scrambled in a goal back, sending the County faithful spare and the Kop rocking. Michael O’Conner could have taken the roof off when he slashed his penalty wide of the mark just 60
Meadow Lane is far from the greatest ground in the country, but the people around the club seem genuinely fantastic and for that I can’t complain. It’s a club that’s been through the ringer in recent times, but the basics are there for everything to improve soon. The point with Grimsby is a good start, and it’s results like that that will see the club eventually push its way back up the pyramid, but it may be a few years before they overtake their nearest, and fiercest rivals. I won’t mention them by name.
The club as a whole caught my imagination slightly more than their home, and for that, I expect I’ll return soon enough. Cheers to James for sorting the ticket for this one.
COME ON YOU PIES!