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Chris
Although there is no football going on right now, support for our beloved Notts County remains just as strong as ever, if not more so.
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DangerousSausage
The nineties were a mixed decade for Notts to say the least, starting with two trips to Wembley and a return to the top flight. However, the five years after relegation from the first division were marked by bewildering sackings, even more bewildering managerial appointments, a cost-cutting drive overseen by Colin Murphy and, finally, relegation to the fourth division in 1997 (at that time the third division, now known as League Two. I know).
This was our first relegation to the fourth division for almost three decades, since the early days of Jimmy Sirrel. To my 17-year-old self at least it was almost as unimaginable as our relegation of 2019. We hadn't played many of the teams in that division in many years and were perceived by other clubs' fans as fallen giants (we had been hosting Manchester United and Liverpool five years before, after all). We were Everybody Else's Cup FinalTM.
The team was managed by Sam Allardyce, who had been appointed in January 1997 a few months after his sacking at Blackpool. Allardyce had failed to keep us up – in fact, we had embarked on a club-record winless run of 20 games, most of which were on his watch. He wasn't blamed for relegation, however, with most fans acknowledging that he had inherited a demoralised and bloated squad.
Allardyce had already thinned out the squad the previous season, and the sole pre-season additions were Dennis Pearce and Mark Robson, who beefed up the left-hand side. Gary Strodder, in his third season at the club, formed the heart of a sound defence and was partnered by Graeme Hogg, Matt Redmile and Ian Richardson at various points. The previously hapless Ian Baraclough moved into midfield and was given a new lease of life. Phil Robinson was another regular, giving us plenty of strength and tenacity in the centre of the park. The team was captained by Ian Hendon, a very steady right-back and a sublime taker of penalties.
Following a nervy but important win over Rochdale on the opening day and a comfortable win at Hull, we encountered our first setback at home to John Beck's “industrial” Lincoln side. After harshly showing Devon White the red card, the referee failed to spot that ex-Notts striker Phil Stant's winner for Lincoln was approximately seven miles offside, sparking furious scenes. But that was to remain our last defeat until November, with Notts establishing themselves near the top of the table in what looked like a close fight for promotion.
During that time we recorded what was to be our last home victory over Mansfield until last season, with Gary Martindale scoring the only goal (which also had a strong whiff of offside about it). The match was rather more low-key than our more recent encounters with the Stags, however.
On 3 December we won 1-0 at Brighton (who were groundsharing at Gillingham at the time) in front of a now-unimaginable crowd of 1,279. It was to be the start of a record-breaking run. The following week we moved to the top of the table for a final time after a 5-2 win over a dreadful and relegation-bound Doncaster side.
This was also the time that Gary Jones came to life. The hard-working striker scored just five goals before Christmas, but finished the season on 27 goals and in the form of his life – form he would sadly never replicate at Notts or any of his subsequent clubs.
We travelled to Lincoln during January with a score to settle and a club-record ninth consecutive win in our sights. In excess of 2,000 Notts fans made the short journey, myself incuded, and accounted for nearly half the crowd. And we were to be rewarded with a bombastic first-half performance and a 3-0 half-time lead – we were cruising, the only question seemed to be how many we would score. Just a couple of minutes into the second half, keeper Darren Ward attempted to clear a back-pass up the pitch but succeeded only in kicking thin air, and moments later the ball was in our net. Suddenly Lincoln came alive and ran us ragged. Just thirteen minutes after Ward's miskick, they were level.
Seconds after the restart, Notts were back in the lead. And ten minutes later the Lincoln keeper attempted a clearance, but the tireless Jones charged it down. Instead of being allowed to tap the ball in the net, Sean Farrell sprinted ahead of him and claimed the goal for himself, much to Jones' annoyance. Not that the travelling fans cared. Notts were now well on their way.
A 2-0 win at Mansfield the following week (with hundreds of Notts fans locked out outside the ground) extended the winning run to ten, before it finally came to an end with a draw against Shrewsbury. But by now the chasing pack were melting away; it already seemed a matter of when we won promotion, not if. Shaun Derry left for Sheffield United after the Lincoln match, with Andy Hughes replacing him days later.
With every passing week it became apparent that we really were going to be champions by Easter. Promotion would have been possible with a win over Colchester on 21 March if other results went our way. We drew 0-0 and they didn't. So it was on 28 March 1998 that we became the first Football League team to win a championship in March, when we beat Leyton Orient 1-0 in front of a crowd of 8,383. Mark Robson scored the only goal and Sam Allardyce led the festivities on the pitch after the match, grabbing the microphone and “treating” us to a rendition of “We Are the Champions”.

The club organised a “gala day” on the final day against Rotherham United, who had play-off ambitions of their own, but it was probably the prospect of another round of celebrations that drew a season-best crowd of 12,430 to the Lane. The team duly obliged with a stylish 5-2 win after falling behind in the first half. Notts finished the season on 99 points – we were simply too good for the fourth division.
And so we returned to the third level at the first attempt. We had the wind in our sails and a proven, popular manager at the helm – hopes were high that we could enjoy a successful era with Allardyce at the helm as we had under Sirrel and Warnock before him. Although those hopes were to be dashed, the 1997-98 season still left us with lots of happy memories.
On the up:
Steve Finnan – Signed permanently during the previous season, Finnan disappointed and ended up warming the bench. He blossomed during 1997-98 though, making the right wing spot his own. Finnan was sold to Kevin Keegan's Fulham the following season and subsequently made over 100 appearances for Liverpool, featuring in their Champions League victory over AC Milan.
Doncaster Rovers – Doncaster were in dire straits in 1997-98, with a chairman who tried to set fire to their own ground and a team made up of his relatives and youth-teamers. They were relegated on a goal difference of -83. After a takeover the following summer, they returned to the League in 2003 and have never looked back.
Swansea, Cardiff, Hull and Brighton – These clubs all finished in the bottom five of the basement division in 1997-98, and all have played in the Premier League since. In the twenty-odd years since 1997-98, the bottom five teams from this season have fared rather better than the top seven...
Disappearing from view:
Devon White – The popular Nottingham-born striker, who played most of his football for QPR and Bristol Rovers, had returned for a second spell the previous season. He scored his final Notts goal in the farcical defeat at home to Lincoln City and was harshly sent off ten minutes later. He joined Shrewsbury just weeks later as Gary Jones and Sean Farrell consolidated their place in the team.
Z block – At this time the Kop still belonged to away fans, often giving them an acoustic advantage. The vocal Notts fans were in the side of the Sirrel stand closest to the Family Stand, meaning that the songs and chants could often only be heard across half the pitch.
Scarborough FC – The Seadogs made the play-offs this season, losing to Torquay in the semi-finals. However, the following season they were dramatically relegated to the Conference on the final day courtesy of a Jimmy Glass goal for Carlisle, and were never to return to the League.
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ARLukomski
Notts County claimed a 4-0 win over Eastleigh at Meadow Lane in the National League on Saturday afternoon.
With the non-league competition giving teams the green light to play despite the coronavirus pandemic, five 3pm kickoffs went ahead in the division on Saturday.
A total of 4,942 were in attendance at Meadow Lane as Kyle Wootton put Neal Ardley's men ahead in the 15th minute from a Kristian Dennis cross.
The provider then turned scorer in the second half with a header of his own.
Wootton added his second with a cool effort and Eastleigh goalkeeper Max Stryjek denied Cal Roberts from an acute angle soon after.
But the Notts man would soon beat the Eastleigh goalkeeper with a low finish and the visitors' goal faced more pressure before the final whistle.
Here is Pride of Nottingham vlogger ARLukomski's take on events.
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Chris
Notts County claimed a 4-0 win over Eastleigh at Meadow Lane in the National League on Saturday afternoon.
With the non-league competition giving teams the green light to play despite the coronavirus pandemic, five 3pm kickoffs went ahead in the division on Saturday.
A total of 4,942 were in attendance at Meadow Lane as Kyle Wootton put Neal Ardley's men ahead in the 15th minute from a Kristian Dennis cross.
The provider then turned scorer in the second half with a header of his own.
Wootton added his second with a cool effort and Eastleigh goalkeeper Max Stryjek denied Cal Roberts from an acute angle soon after.
But the Notts man would soon beat the Eastleigh goalkeeper with a low finish and the visitors' goal faced more pressure before the final whistle.
Pride of Nottingham was at Meadow Lane for the game - see if you've made it in this week's Faces of PON!

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Simon Clark
Go on, hands up if you thought Kyle Wootton would turn out to be this good when Notts County signed him on loan from a struggling League Two side at the end of August?
Granted, one of the things fans have constantly complained about is the lack of a big, strong target man. Someone who can hold the ball up, bring other players into the game, win the headers and generally lead the line in a way which helps the poachers like Kristian Dennis and Wes Thomas find the space to play their own game.
At the point of signing him, Wootton had a League record of 15 goals in 101 games and 2 goals in 22 games on loan to Nation al League sides.
Hardly the stuff to whet the appetite but that just shows how misleading statistics can be – especially when a lot of those appearances were from the bench.
His full debut at home to a dour Solihull side which came to stifle the game, and did that superbly in a goalless draw, didn’t really give much of an idea. But away at Sutton United the following Saturday took your breath away.

A wonderful all round performance capped with a fantastic goal gave huge hope that we might have the striker we’ve been waiting for since Jimmy Spencer. With 16 goals at around a goal every other game, he has certainly found the scoring touch as well as helping his colleagues – and let’s not forget that holding the ball can also take pressure of the defence and give them time to reorganise.
It’s strange to think that when January came around, one of our fears was that we’d lose him as he was attracting the attention of League clubs. Thankfully, he settled so well at Notts and speaks so highly of the management that it appears that was never really likely as soon as we made our move to make him a Notts player rather than a loanee.
I think that could turn out to be one of the best signings we could have made, because there are very few players around at this level who can do what he does and, if we are able to get back in the League, I have no doubts that he’ll do just as well in League Two.
Another thing to consider is the amount of work he gets through. While Ardley likes to rotate his players, and rarely plays any of the others strikers twice in a week, Kyle Wootton hardly misses out and leads the line in a manner which shows far more maturity than his 23 years. I feel there is much more to come and am really looking forward to him being a major part of the club at least for the immediate future.
One downside of performing well at a lower league club is that it’s difficult to hold on to them, so let’s enjoy him while he’s here.
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PON_News
Notts County reached the semi-finals of the FA Trophy with a 5-0 win over Aveley at Meadow Lane on Saturday.
It took the Magpies half an hour before breaking down the resolute Millers, with Jim O'Brien breaking the deadlock.
Tom Crawford's curling effort doubled County's lead and Sam Osborne found the target to give Neal Ardley's side a deserved advantage at the interval.
Kyle Wootton's 16th of the season made it four with an hour played and Scott Wilson, who signed on Friday, came off the bench to mark his debut by completing the scoring.
Pride of Nottingham vlogger ARLukomski was at Meadow Lane for the game.
Here are his pre, mid and post-match thoughts about the victory.
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ARLukomski
Notts County returned to the National League playoff places thanks to a 1-1 draw with Woking at Meadow Lane.
The hosts started brightly with Kyle Wootton being denied by Craig Ross and Kristian Dennis firing narrowly wide from the edge of the area in the 13th minute.
Woking, however, opened the scoring five minutes into the second half when Dave Tarpey's cross was turned in by Max Kretzschmar.
The home side missed a good chance to equalise when Callum Roberts cleared the bar in the 68th minute but they were level two minutes later when Dennis fired in.
With only three games going ahead in the National League on Saturday, County's point was enough to move them into sixth place.
Pride of Nottingham's ARLukomski was at the Lane for the game - here are his pre, mid and post-match thoughts.
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PON_News
Notts County reached the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy after overcoming Yeovil Town 2-1 at Huish Park despite finishing the game with nine men on the field.
Connell Rawlinson opened the scoring in the seventh minute of the game before Wes Thomas was dismissed for raising his hands to an opponent shortly before half-time.
However, Notts were able to double their lead despite the numerical disadvantage, Kyle Wootton coming off the bench to net in the 70th minute of the game.
Courtney Duffus pulled one back at the end of a move which saw Damien McCrory sustain an injury which left the Magpies with nine men on the field for the closing exchanges.
Pride of Nottingham's ARLukomski was at the game - here is his take on the afternoon's events.
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PON_News
Notts County recorded a superb 3-0 derby win over Chesterfield at Meadow Lane to remain in the National League playoff place hunt.
The Magpies went close after nine minutes when Connell Rawlinson headed a cross from Enzio Boldewijn back across goal and the ball hit the post, before the Dutchman then saw his free kick crash against the crossbar.
Chesterfield were awarded a penalty in the 39th minute for a foul on David Buchanan by Alex Lacey but Notts keeper Ross Fitzsimons saved Scott Boden's spot-kick down to his left.
The home side took the lead in the 51st minute when Boldewijn charged forward and slammed a 20-yard effort into the top corner of the Spireites net.
Notts doubled their advantage lead just before the hour when Kyle Wootton headed in and the striker tapped home a third goal with 15 minutes left after Boldewijn's effort was saved.
Pride of Nottingham was at Meadow Lane for the game - see if you've made it in our latest Faces of PON!

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PON_News
Notts County recorded a superb 3-0 derby win over Chesterfield at Meadow Lane to remain in the National League playoff place hunt.
The Magpies went close after nine minutes when Connell Rawlinson headed a cross from Enzio Boldewijn back across goal and the ball hit the post, before the Dutchman then saw his free kick crash against the crossbar.
Chesterfield were awarded a penalty in the 39th minute for a foul on David Buchanan by Alex Lacey but Notts keeper Ross Fitzsimons saved Scott Boden's spot-kick down to his left.
The home side took the lead in the 51st minute when Boldewijn charged forward and slammed a 20-yard effort into the top corner of the Spireites net.
Notts doubled their advantage lead just before the hour when Kyle Wootton headed in and the striker tapped home a third goal with 15 minutes left after Boldewijn's effort was saved.
Here is what Pride of Nottingham's ARLukomski made of the game, in his latest vlog:
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ARLukomski
Notts County saw their unbeaten run come to an end as they lost 2-0 at Dagenham & Redbridge at the weekend.
The Magpies began brightly as Callum Roberts was denied a debut goal due to a fine save from Elliott Justham.
However, the hosts took the lead in the second half as Notts' defence was caught out on a set piece, a corner from which Alex Reid netted.
Michael Doyle was then dismissed as he was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Sam Deering.
Reid then wrapped up the win for the Daggers when Ross Fitzsimons spilled a shot and the striker reacted quickest to smash in the rebound.
Pride of Nottingham vlogger ARLukomski was at Victoria Road for the game - here is his take on the afternoon's events.
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TheSkipper
With Notts County piling up with fixtures back in December, the club managed to pick up 10 points from a possible 12; it highlights how beneficial mixing up what was becoming a stale squad can be.
The previous month as we all know, Notts struggled to pick up points and fans including our very own Chris and ARLukomski called for the introduction of fringe players.
Tom Crawford who hadn't appeared for Notts since the away defeat in 2018/19 to Mansfield, has managed to be called upon and despite being relatively quiet in the Solihull Moors game, he hasn't had a lot of football so a few quiet performances can be excused in my opinion.
Additionally, Notts County Academy product Sam Osborne has made a return to featuring and did excellently in the FA Trophy game against Chesterfield, backing it up with another impressive performance against Maidenhead United where he scored his home debut at Meadow Lane.
As the run of fixtures came in thick and fast, the club needed to adapt and allow for critical players to rest in favour of someone else desperate to get match minutes.
I don’t feel any individual players are guaranteed to start, as this is part of the issue, when some regularly perform at a subpar standard.
Alex Lacey who had to wait for Ben Turner to pick up an injury to start has been a shining example at the back, and he has grown already within the role, partnering Connell Rawlinson very well.
With the return of Dion Kelly-Evans who offers a lot of pace, his effort to get involved has been an enormous relief to see on the pitch.
I wonder, why Neal Ardley waited so long to introduce some fresh players to mix things up.
One possibility I have already touched upon, that being the frequencies of how often Notts had to play but, it makes you question could earlier results have been different if it was sooner?

December changed the mood in the supporters, reawakening fans and a real belief that the club can go up has been re-inserted into the minds of many.
No question this will take a lot of work, with the return to action in 2020 only seeing a draw but that is a good enough start in my eyes, Notts won't cruise past any team in the National League comfortably.
The fans need to have a level of optimism, pride and a noticeable amount of fight from the squad.
December has proven that Neal Ardley can make successful changes, changes which need not be forced but implement as a way to keep legs fresh.
January will rely on much of the same approach, with players who can be saved for the crucial odd appearance rather than playing each game and becoming jaded.
If we allow Ben Turner to rest appropriately, perhaps he will be able to come back stronger? I think it would be harsh on Alex Lacey to be dropped, and I believe Connell Rawlinson has been superb in recent games.
With the addition of the latest capture, which seems to be a real coup for Notts. I would like to see Cal Roberts take up the opposite side of the pitch allowing Sam Osborne to remain in the first team, development-wise Ozzy won't always be a standout player but provided he's learning. It will only benefit the club further.
With the Football League's transfer now almost at a close, I don’t expect Notts to sign any more players, especially with Jim O’Brien close to making a return since his injury in December.
I believe the squad has players who can fill in the gap, as Pierce Bird played well against AFC Mansfield in the Notts Senior Cup match, which saw Jim O’Brien return to action.
It's for this reason, why it would be disappointing to see fringe players, not utilised more.
We have more than capable players at the club who can partake in creating something unique, who are earning a wage but until recently have found themselves often overlooked. Insert a little faith; let's hope they can make a positive difference when called upon.
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PON_News
The opening of this memorial message has been constructed by Notts fan @Darryl Broughton, as fan messages came pouring in the news – first with the Notts County Supporters Club. It quickly became apparent how much the magpies’ star had touched the lives of many.
Mick Vinter joined Notts County in 1971/1972 season, he was a great player for the reserves, being the top scorer with 26 goals from that season.
He continued to be a regular striker for the reserves making the odd substitute appearance for the first team in the early days.
Eventually, he made a regular striking partnership in the first team with Les Bradd in season 1975/1976.
It was a joy and pleasure to have watched him play for Notts County.
Notts County fans pay respect to Mick Vinter:
Team-mate Les Bradd described the passing of Magpies' legend as, "Very sad to hear."
Notts County also lead paying respects, with a beautiful piece from former BBC commentator Colin Slater.
The full article can be read over on the OS website - Here.
We at Pride of Nottingham would like to offer our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Mick Vinter, who has sadly passed away aged 65.

Alexlevy0908
For any football fan who's seen their team get relegated, one positive once you've got over the initial shock is to think about all the new grounds you can visit. And with Notts having previously never dropped down to non-league in their 157-year history, all these non-league grounds seemed like an exotic novelty to a Notts fan who travels home and away each week. So having completed half a season in the non-league wilderness, let's take a look back on the highs and lows of a non league away day.
Best away days:
Without question, I would have to list my favourite away ground that I've visited this season as Aldershot. Why did I like Aldershot's ground? Because it was the right mix of being an old school terrace, as well as a ground with a good atmosphere between home and away fans, which hasn't always been the case at the majority of non league grounds. Another terrace which I thoroughly enjoyed was Halifax, a large, retro terrace for away fans and an experience helped by the fact that Notts actually won! However, in terms of both the result and away day experience, then the best away trip this season would have to be the 4-0 win at Woking. From the slightly surreal yet friendly experience of drinking in the snooker club that was the only pub anywhere near the ground, to the cracking on the field performance from Notts, it was definitely the most memorable away trip of the season. Chants about "Our Danish chairmen" rang out throughout the game, as Notts put in a performance that established their challenge for immediate promotion back to the football league. Whether Notts genuinely have a chance of that promotion is a question for another blog!
Worst away days:
My least favourite ground I've visited this season would have to be Sutton. The whole vibe of the place was quite weird; on the one hand the stewards and other staff at the ground were very posh and overly formal. On the other hand, I recall facilities at this ground being particularly poor and not up to standard. The fact that the game was poor didn't help, but there was no real atmosphere at this ground which made for a pretty unmemorable experience. Another away ground I didn't particularly enjoy was Eastleigh; a ground which while facilities were modern and up to standard, was just pretty bland and the result also contributed to a relatively unmemorable day. While I can't moan too much about Chesterfield away as an experience as we've been there before in the football league and the facilities are pretty good for this level, I must give a special mention to Chesterfield advertising that they were selling out of date beer at the ground. Thanks for telling all away fans that they should give that a swerve, I guess! Thankfully no matter how bad things have got at Notts, we've never stooped to that low.
So are the grounds in the National League significantly worse than those in League Two? I suppose it depends what you look for in a ground. In terms of character, there are some pretty bland grounds wherever you go in the football league. Therefore, an old fashioned ground like Aldershot, Halifax, or Maidenhead is definitely more charming than a football league out of town ground like Colchester or MK Dons. However, if you're talking about facilities then the overall standard is definitely slightly lower. The facilities at most non league clubs who have never been in the football league are definitely not quite up to football league standards in the whole ground, never quite as clean or well maintained as facilities in a football league ground. But even at the worst of times at any tinpot non-league ground, it's important to remember that this roller-coaster ride will all be worth it when Notts are a football league club!
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Notoriousgee
Where do you start with a review of Doyle's Notts career thus far? A man who was well known to us for being a thorn in our side in recent years as a player at Portsmouth and Coventry, both of which we he forged successful promotions, an outstanding achievement by any professional's standards.
We know from first hand experience that he is a player the opposition fans love to hate, which in truth is a huge compliment to the man. His tough approach to the game and ability to wind the opposition players and fans up alike, whilst always in the referee's ear telling him what decisions he should be making and still having a playing influence in the game, is quite remarkable.
It would be fair to say his transfer to Notts has not been smooth by any means and at times he has clearly divided the Notts faithful. One of the first games I think he played for us was our home game against the Stags. We of course were in an extremely poor run of form, so I doubt many of us were looking forward to the game, especially seeing as we were desperate for the points and them being our bogey side, yet step up Doyle, who I am sure many will agree was superb in the match along with JOB. I for one was buzzing and thought that his signing will surely help us escape the drop, but alas it was not to be.
Life in the National League did not get off to the greatest of starts as we know for obvious reasons and I am sure it was very frustrating for the players as it was us fans. I suppose we will never know the stress that the players were under but it did seem to show on Doyle and this resulted in him receiving a red card for a rash challenge, fair play to the man he did apologise and reassured us that he would pay the faithful back, he soon returned straight after his ban and a few games later he was sent off again, this further dividing the fans as to his worth as a Notts regular.
In the following weeks and his return to the side, I see that he was asked to play a different role in the team, a role that saw him as a defensive midfielder whose job it was to bring the ball out from the back and keep possession. I can honestly say I was not a fan of this style of play and whereas we had plenty of possession we struggled to create many chances as the ball was predominantly in out last third, I also felt that this left out other midfielder Rose exposed as his partner was too deep.
In more recent games Doyle seems to have moved further up the pitch, this also coincides with the addition of Lacey, who can play and is quick, so no surprise really. Now I see Doyle as back to his best, a man who in whatever circumstances is always available to receive the ball and never hides, he keeps the ball moving and now in the right areas and we have looked far better. A recent game I noted that Doyle was the furthest man forward in the hope of receiving a ball over the top, this brought great joy to me as we no longer seem predictable like we did before.
Whether you have had mixed opinions about Doyle for whatever reason, I am sure we should tip our hats to the man, a 38 year old who is full of running and such an influence on our side, he really is the beating heart of our side so I suggest we get behind the man, although we know he is sky blue through and through, no one can fault his commitment to Notts.
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Pride of Nottingham

Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest professional football club. Created in 2013, it has served as a source of Magpie news, features, match previews, reports, analysis and interviews for more than three years.

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