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The forgotten Cup run


weymouthPIE

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With no live footy to go and watch over the last few months I've ended up adding to my programme collection which has brought back memories. 

This week I added a few from what should be remembered as one of our great cup runs given the sides we beat, yet in truth it's hardly remembered at all. 

The 2006 league cup run for Notts was the first proper cup run I experienced as a fan. Its largely a forgotten run from a period of our history most people have tried to forget, but this was a small beacon of light which gave us some much needed excitement.

We were lucky to be entering the competition at all having stayed in the league thanks to a last minute penalty on the final day of the previous season. Steve Thompson had took over as manager and had to be fair assembled a half decent xi with no money. Still, when we were drawn away to Crystal Palace in round 1, we didn't exactly anticipate anything other than a beating.

The Eagles had suffered championship play off heartache the previous season but had started the new season with 3 straight wins. We'd surprised even ourselves with 2 wins and 2 draws from our first 4 games, but surely this was a step too far?

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Peter Taylor naturally made changes but still 6 of the side who'd started their last league game started, though it would be one of the changes Michael Hughes who danced through the middle of the Notts defence to put Palace 1 up after just 17 minutes.

But Notts rallied and levelled on 24 minutes - Lawrie Dudfield with a wonderful strike from the edge of the box to stun the Cockneys.

Notts' solid start to the league had been built on a strong defensive record, and they frustrated the hosts for the rest of the night. And then 6 minutes from time we hit them with the sicker punch - Dan Martin volleying home Needham's Cross to send the small but loud and proud pocket of pies into dreamland.

We held out and caused the shock of the round, and we were rewarded with a trip to Teeside to play Middlesbrough.

Boro were a well established premiership side and to be honest they were a class act. They'd lost a UEFA cup final just a few months prior, and they were coming into this cup tie off the back of a win over Chelsea and a draw at Arsenal. We were still doing well ourselves and were 6th. But surely this really was a step too far?

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Well we were in luck as then Boro boss Gareth Southgate made several changes, but Viduka was playing. He could beat us on his own.

Well after a nervy start, Notts settled into the game, and it was out of nowhere on 26 minutes when we took the lead. A hopeful punt forward was headed clear by McMahon, but it fell at the feet of Congolese striker Tcham N'Toya who coolly slotted it home and stunned the Riverside.

From then on, particularly through the second half it was very much backs to the wall for Notts, but our luck was in. A combination of woeful Boro finishing and some great saves from Saul Deeney saw us yet again pull off the shock of the round, and earn easily our best result for a number of years.

We weren't rewarded with the dream tie of a United or a Chelsea etc, but we were given a home tie, and a good one against Southampton. Like Palace, Saints were starting a second season back in the championship following relegation, although unlike the Eagles they weren't looking like getting back up anytime soon.

A midtable finish the previous season had been followed by a rather average start to this season, and George Burley was under pressure.  We were up to 5th and enjoying a start to the season which surprised even ourselves. We fancied our chances under the lights at the Lane, although due to injuries we were the one's making changes for this one.

 

But with a boisterous home crowd behind them Notts hit the front on 13 minutes thanks to The Phoenix, Mike Edwards - poking home a Junior Mendes cross.

Right on the stroke of half time we were in dreamland again as Andy Parkinson lead the Saints defence a merry dance before setting up Jason Lee (minus the pineapple on his head) to double the lead.

Saints threw the kitchen sink at us in the second half, but even a young Welsh lad named Gareth Bale couldn't save them, and we found ourselves in the 4th round of the league Cup for the first time since 1983.

We dreamed of a money spinning tie at Old Trafford or the Emirates , but alas it wasn't to be. The 4th round draw was a bit of an anti climax as it put us up against fellow league 2 side Wycombe. A good chance to progress, but in typical Notts fashion, having beaten 3 higher division sides we went out to Wanderers in extra time, and they went all the way to the semi finals where they earned a first leg draw at home to Chelsea before bowing out at Stamford Bridge.

As for us, it was a mixed season. We were still in the play off picture at the turn of the year, but our small squad caught up with us and we'd fall away to finish 13th. A bit disappointing but given our perilous financial state, a good effort.

And what of the heroes of that cup run? Well Dan Martin would leave Notts at the end of the season and embarked on a non league tour which took in Mickleover, Tamworth and Rocester.

Lawrie Duffield would end up at Cork City and Quorn before setting up a football clinic business after retiring.

N'Toya ended up playing in the Israeli 3rd division before disappearing off the face of the earth.

Jason Lee ended up working with the PFA after spells with Boston, Stags, Corby, and Arnold.

The only one who hung around was Eddie Oofball, Mike Edwards. He stayed until 2012 before a brief spell at Carlisle only to come back here. He retired in 2018 and his own testimonial money was withheld by a certain previous owner. Not that one... 

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The squad Notts had in 06 wasn't the best, but they played together and fought for us. I had actually forgotten about that, as I seem to recall the season wasn't exactly all thrills.

Wasn't it also one of the seasons where money worries impacted things?

I wished my memory were as clear as Uncle Colins...

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I watched Lawrie Dudfield at Cork City.  You couldn't fault his application. Gave 100% and scored some important goals for the club. He played in the UEFA Cup qualifying rounds and helped the club win the Setanta Cup. He set up the winning goal in the final, even if it was a mishit shot!

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