A trip to Notts County- a club almost as old as Chairman Paul!

Hands up if you visited Hooters before the game. Come on Matt, hands up!

Two full Clarke’s of London coaches left base at 9.30am bound for another new ground- Meadow Lane, Nottingham- the home of the worlds oldest professional football team, Notts County. The day started with a delay due to M25 problems, but this didn’t dampen spirits.  Our regular back seat members of Travel Ken’s Barmy Army were in top form- and you can read more from them in this weekends CTSA programme page.

Carol Kipling and her exceedingly good cakes….

During coffee break Carol gave out some top notch home made cakes. Along with Kate’s cake last weekend, the standard of CTSA catering has been well and truly raised recently, and everyone tucked in greedily (some were more greedy than others!). If you’d like to be the next CTSA entrant to the Great Crawley Bake Off, we’ll be happy to be guest judges!

Before our arrival I had a chat with Jane Hillman and daughter Rachel. The east stand season ticket holder explained “Rachel plays football on Saturdays so its difficult to get to away games but we have done about 3 this season. Despite the result we had a great day out at Brentford and enjoyed travelling on the coach”. As for today, “we are pretty good at bouncing back after a loss so I feel confident of a win”.

Did we mention they were the oldest professional club in the world?

After a short meal break at Leicester we were pulling up at Meadow Lane at around 1.45pm. Cameras were clicking away capturing the short distance between the Meadow and near neighbours Forest. The distance between the grounds is around 400 yards but separated by the Trent.

Ken, Hugo and Paul. Beer and electronic gadgets hidden from view!

Before the game, whilst Chairman Paul, Matt and James went to Hooters (apparently the food was the main attraction. Believe that? No, me neither!) for lunch with Boycie from Only Fools and Horses, many fans went to the Navigator. I joined Paul Manuel, his son Hugo (11) and a old friend, Ken. Over a nice pint of mild Paul revealed that he used to live in Nottingham and this pub was his favourite pre match drinking spot before going off the City Ground. It was lovely to have a quiet sit in the sun while the two mates were reminiscing about watching Forest back in the day. Hugo was happily playing with some sort of electronic gadget!

More cheese than the Philadelphia factory!

On getting into the ground I was happy to find that we had a virtual halfway line view of the action high up in the Jimmy Sirrell stand. With 308 Reds in attendance it felt as though we were packed in. Prior to kick off a wonderfully observed and emotional minutes silence was held- the following day was Remembrance Sunday.The weather was perfect for football; in fact there was too much sun for a while as everyone shielded their eyes. County came out all guns blazing with probably the best attacking football we have seen all season. It was breathless one touch football played with pace and skill down both wings. There was no surprise when they opened the scoring on 12 mins with a quality goal. They continued to push and created another 3 or 4 chances. On 40 mins we got hold of the ball and pressed forward ourselves and bang on half time Forte got on the end of the vicious cross from the right. Relief and celebration erupted, and County shook their heads and wondered how they weren’t out of sight.

The 2nd half was slightly less frenetic with both teams level on possession and chances. That said County might feel aggrieved not to take all three points as they carved out two late guilt edge chances. One poor finish and a splendid save from Paul left us with a point a piece. Reds fans seemed to be in a state of euphoria as high fives and cuddles were given out as we left the ground. One-one and 4th spot, thank you very much!

David and Dean, happy with a point

David Griffin and son Dean of Burgess Hill, stars of the Argus today said, “that was a well earned point, especially as we were well under the cosh for most of the 1st half. County played some breathtaking one touch football and scored a quality goal early on, during the opening 35 mins we were struggling to cope with the pacy attack and perhaps should have been 3 down at the break. We came into the match late in the 1st half and scored a leveller just on half time.”

“The 2nd half was level with both sides having chances to take the match, the turning point was when Paul Jones made a full length save to his left, if that went in I think we would have lost today”. He summed up, “It was a brilliant and exciting match and our dreams of another promotion are still alive!”

CTSA would like to send out a polite message to all Reds travellers to start thinking about the festive period. We are looking forward to special trips to Portsmouth and Bournemouth but we need early bookings! Please see the website for details or give Ken a call.

Words and pictures by Colin Bowman, CTSA Matchday Press