Thank you to Notts County supporter Jacob for answering these questions!
Thank you to Notts County supporter Jacob for answering these questions!
How Long Have You Supported Notts County?
For as long as I can remember – twenty odd years now. All my dad’s fault, I’m really from Leicester, but obviously made a sensible choice there.
Last Season’s League Finish?
16th, but in a very roundabout way. We started well under John Sheridan and were in automatic promotion contention when suddenly everything fell apart and we set a new club record of ten consecutive league defeats. We made it as far as the relegation zone before Kevin Nolan arrived and suddenly we had play-off form again.
What Do You Think Of Your Manager?
It’s hard to overstate the impact that Kevin Nolan has had on the club since he arrived along with new owner Alan Hardy in January. As I just mentioned, he took over a team on a frankly ridiculous losing run, but quickly turned things around and led us to safety comfortably in the end. That he’s just been given a new three year contract speaks of how highly he’s thought of by everyone at Notts and I’d be surprised if he didn’t go on to manage at a much higher level than this.
Hopes/Expectations This Season?
It’s difficult not to get a bit carried away after a start as good as ours has been, but before a ball was kicked I’d have been happy with getting through a season with the same manager, no issues with the ownership and a team capable of challenging for the play-offs, which shouldn’t be a completely unreasonable ask for a club with our resources at this level. The early signs are that we may be capable of more, but I’ll stick with that for now.
One(s) To Watch?
Anyone who has seen Notts at all since January will know that Jorge Grant is our best player by some distance. He’s playing at least a division below where he should be because of a unique set of circumstances and has managed to shoulder the burden of being both our most creative outlet and biggest goal threat despite his young age. After taking a couple of games to settle in back at the start of the year he’s scoring at a rate of one goal every other game, which is outrageous for a midfielder.
Top Seven Predictions?
Coventry City, Luton Town, Exeter City, Mansfield Town, Swindon Town, Stevenage and Notts County. Maybe in that order, maybe not!
Bottom Two Predictions?
Port Vale and Crawley Town.
Thoughts on Lincoln City?
It was definitely one of the fixtures that we were looking forward to when they came out in the summer. It has the feel of a bit of a local derby and game with an edge without the early kick-off and general police state that now surrounds our games against Mansfield. From the outside, the huge increase in interest and crowds at Lincoln over the last year is great to see and should be heartening for everyone down here.
1-1. I haven’t seen a lot of Lincoln, but I get the feeling that you’ll set up in a similar way to us. Notts under Nolan approach every game pretty cautiously and look to frustrate and stay organised before looking to play, which I’ve always seen as the Cowleys’ approach. I can see it being a game high on energy and physicality but probably fairly low on quality – as ever we’ll hope that a moment of magic from Grant can be the difference.
Random Fact About Your Club?
As the old man of the division most of our interesting facts are already well known, but apparently we invented the offside trap as well.
What are your proudest and most embarrassing moments as a Notts County Supporter?
They’re actually sort of the same thing. That ridiculous season with Munto Finance’s weird North Korean mining operation, Sven swanning about and Sol Campbell pitching up for a match ended up as the only one in which I’ve seen Notts have any kind of success at all, but a lot of it was also pretty cringeworthy.
Do you have a Supporters Trust and what role do they play at the Club?
I’m not entirely sure. Notts were one of the pioneers when it came to Supporters’ Trust ownership, but it was at a really difficult time for the club and never really worked – I think that recent successes at places like Exeter have owed a lot to learning from the mistakes that we made. I think that every club should have the kind of representation, but more time probably needs to pass before it’s viewed without suspicion again at Meadow Lane.
Which was your favourite match involving Notts County?
Obviously it was only an exhibition match, but seeing Notts get a 1-1 draw at Juventus to open their new stadium – the kind of slightly mental thing that seems to happen to us and that fans of most fairly nondescript lower league clubs will never experience.
Which was your least favourite match involving Notts County?
There’s a lot more competition for this one, to be honest. Probably losing 5-0 at home to Macclesfield Town back when we were a really bad League Two side ten years or so ago – a tiny crowd (including about 50 away fans) rattling around on a depressing Tuesday night at Meadow Lane.
Thoughts on Hawkridge so far? Think he will get a good reception our end.
You’d struggle to find anyone with a bad word to say about Hawkridge so far. He’s not the most exciting or naturally gifted player in the league, but his ability to put a good cross into the box more often than not is rare in League Two, as is his intelligent defensive cover and work rate. He’s not an automatic starter and generally rotates with Lewis Alessandra (more of a goal threat but much less consistent), but I’m slightly surprised that you didn’t put up more of a fight to keep him – seems like just the kind of player a team looking to establish themselves after promotion should want.
What do you think of your current owner? It’s fair to say your previous one was divisive in these parts.
Ray Trew was pretty divisive here too – he certainly tried and put money in, but his decision making was generally dreadful and by the end his running of the club had become utterly shambolic. Alan Hardy has rubbed some people up the wrong way through his often less than diplomatic use of Twitter, but when that is the biggest complaint about an owner it probably suggests that they’re doing something right. Other than that he seems to have picked a fine manager, has backed him with a competitive but sensible budget and invested in the club’s facilities and community presence. So far, so good.
Looking at the last few seasons, you’ve not done particularly well (we had a number of those before we actually went down). Did you ever get close/feel close to dropping out the league?
Not really. It went to the last day once under Gudjon Thordarson, but even then it would’ve taken a fairly freakish set of results for us to actually go down. We’ve got a useful habit of managing to work everything out in the spring when things are getting hairy, but hopefully that’s behind us now anyway.
What is the financial position at the club at the moment? There was a lot of inherited debt when Alan Hardy took over – how much of that has been cleared?
It’s still too early for there to be any concrete evidence on this, but the signs are certainly good. The constant winding up orders and stories of payers not being played that became a feature of the late Trew era have gone and there are visible signs at Meadow Lane of money being invested into the club’s infrastructure.
Why do you think Hardy has bought into Ilkeston, a club that has been liquidated twice in the last seven years?
The romantic answer to this is that he’s local to there, used to watch them as a kid and wanted to help save football in the town for a relatively small sum of money (to him, at least). The more cynical one would be that he’s spoken extensively about trying to find a solution to Notts’ problem of not having our own training ground and having to move around year by year (we’re currently at Basford United).
— Vital Lincoln City (@VitalLincoln) September 22, 2017