The Big Preview – Notts County

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The new National League season starting in October. Still can’t quite get our heads around it. But that’s what’s happening. Well, for now anyway. The world might still implode by the weekend, but as it stands, Stockport County kick off the new campaign at Torquay on Saturday, and we’re carrying on with our season previews by speaking to fans of all the teams County will be facing over the next eight months or so. Today, it’s the turn of the other County, the Notts lot, as we speak to Nigel Nattrass for the latest from Meadow Lane.

What are your thoughts on Stockport County?
A club clearly enjoying a resurgence. A decent stadium, one of the better ones in the National League, above average support for this level, and the owners seem to be backing the manager in his plans for building his squad. Eyebrows were raised over the signing of Rooney in particular. Obviously they made him a very good offer, to tempt him away from returning to the EFL with Barrow. But as we discovered last season, it’s not as simple as having a bigger budget than most. Stockport will be expected to be up there challenging, and that brings its own pressures.

Best moment of last season?
There were many highs, but it comes down to one key moment really. After a very worrying close season, with staff and players going unpaid for months and the club facing a winding up order over a reported £300,000 tax debt, we heard on Friday July 26th, just eight days before the start of the National League season, that the club had been rescued from oblivion by the Reedzt brothers. Hopefully the club is now in good hands.

Worst moment of last season?
Probably our performance in the play-off final. We’d been flying at the point the season was stopped, so I think Covid took away that momentum. I wish Harrogate well, but Notts simply didn’t turn up on the day.

Covid stopping the season early. Good or bad for your club?
See above. Our last five results prior to lockdown were all victories, scoring 16 and conceding 2. Barrow still had to visit Harrogate, and Harrogate still had to visit Meadow Lane. Many Notts fans feel we would have caught them both if it hadn’t been for Covid, but of course we’ll never know.

If restrictions have been lifted, what indoor places should County fans check out in Nottingham?
Depends what they want to do. We have Hooters just up the road and that’s usually popular with visiting supporters, pre-match. (Des – As tacky as it is, I can’t help thinking the phrase “no shit, Sherlock” springs to mind.) The pubs nearer the ground tend to not allow away fans in, so the best option for a pre-match drink is either Hooters, or the other side of Trent Bridge. There are plenty of fast food outlets there as well, opposite the cricket ground.

And if restrictions haven’t been lifted, how about outside places?
A five minute walk from the ground is the Trent Embankment. A pleasant, open parkland area with a little cafe and nice views of the river.

Which team do you most want to beat this season?
Chesterfield is considered a local derby for us, so there’s always a bit of extra ‘spice’ on that one.

Realistically, how do you think you’ll do this season?
I hope we’re up there again, and I hope we can go one better than last season. Neal Ardley has cleared out the dead wood, and brought in eight new signings, but pre-season hasn’t been all that convincing. It remains to be seen whether he can get them to gel into a team and play the way he wants to. Kristian Dennis (who turned down a new contract) netted 15 goals last season, and whilst we still have Kyle Wootton (18) and Wes Thomas (13) we need one of the new additions to step up and fill the gap.

And here’s a few other bits and bobs we’ve added ourselves…..

Last time at County: You have to go all the way back to February 2008 for this one. Tommy Rowe scoring for County in a 1-1 draw.

Last time at Notts: County’s first away game of last season, and their first point as well, thanks to Elliot Osborne’s second half equaliser.

Where is Nottingham? Middle of nowhere / the place Robin Hood lives / East Midlands.

How do County fans get there, if they’re allowed? Nottingham’s a weird one as it’s not a million miles away but always seems to be an absolute ballache to get to. We’d always recommend the train, though, as Nottingham is a cracking little drinking den.

What’s the latest Nottingham news? (Well, the thing that came up most recently when we Googled ‘Nottingham’) More human remains (two arms, hands and a jaw) have been found at a site where a suspected skull was found. Lovely.

When are County due to play Notts? The County derby is on a Wednesday night in Nottingham in November, live on BT Sport, with the return fixture in SK3 in February.

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