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Joe Jones
It’s hard work being a Notts County fan. This isn’t just an opinion – a poll back in 2007 officially crowned the Magpies as the most stressful club to support in the Football League. Financial troubles, relegation battles, backroom changes – and this is just the last few years.
Thank goodness, then, for the calming influence of Colin Slater. The Notts County correspondent for BBC Radio Nottingham has commentated on Magpies games for the past half-century, his dulcet tones interwoven within the very fabric of the club.
What few people know, however, is that The Voice of Notts County could have so easily become The Voice of Bradford City. Colin was born and raised in Shipley, West Yorkshire, and the Bantams were the first football club he followed.
“I was first taken to football aged nine by my dad and I can remember the game against Barnsley at Valley Parade,” he says, sipping a mug of coffee on a warm spring’s day in West Bridgford’s Café Nero.
The young Colin knew from an early age that he wanted to be a journalist, recalling a civic occasion in Shipley’s town square where he noticed the local press reporting on the event from a vantage point.
He proclaims with pride: “That set me thinking that, if journalists get such a good view, that’s what I want to do because that’s where I want to be!”
Colin carried this ambition with him throughout his formative years, getting a job at the Shipley Guardian after finishing his secondary education at Belle Vue Grammar School – which also taught literary genius John Boynton “JB” Priestley – and, within a few years, becoming the newspaper’s editor.
So, how did he find himself in Nottingham, a city with which he had no prior connection? The answer is as honest as it is pragmatic. “I stayed at the Shipley Guardian for nine years, which was perhaps too long. I wanted a change, and the best offer I got was in Nottingham.”
His role at the now-defunct Nottingham Evening News was twofold – he would be the newspaper’s local affairs correspondent as well as being responsible for Notts County coverage. But his lack of familiarity with the Magpies led to him needing a crash course prior to starting work.
“I had just three weeks between moving to Nottingham and getting to know Notts County’s players, officials, and directors before covering my first game!”
After cutting his teeth for nine years covering the Magpies in print format, Colin moved to BBC Radio Nottingham to provide live audio commentary for his newly adopted team, and the rest, as they say, is history.
One of the most notable things about Colin’s presence on the radio is just how well spoken he is. The word “gentlemanly” springs to mind. Bafflingly, some people have accused him of being “posh” and “privileged” – and this accusation angers him no end, especially because it brings back tragic memories.
Colin explains: “I started my working life on 30 shillings a week – £1.50 in today’s currency. So I get a bit riled when anyone thinks I must have been born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I wasn’t, because my dad, who was a great hero figure to me, died when I was 14, so I know what it’s like to lose my father at a young age and start work fresh out of school for little money. Hardly a gilded sort of life, was it?”
The veteran broadcaster also opens up about Jimmy Sirrell, undoubtedly the greatest Magpies manager of all time, and reminisces about an encounter he had with him following their 2-0 win against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge in May 1981 – a result which saw Notts promoted to the old First Division.
“I went into the players’ dressing room to have a glass of champagne, and Jack Dunnett, the chairman, came in and invited me up to the boardroom. Jimmy eventually came in and asked if my friend – who drove us down to the game – and I were stopping on the way back. I said yes, then asked him if he was going to stop anywhere.”
Colin laughs, then adopts a Scottish brogue: “His reply was, “Aye! We’re going to stop at the first shop I see which is open, I’m going to get the biggest tin of glue that they sell, and I’m going to keep the players’ feet on the ground!”
As heart-warming as those memories are, there is also an element of melancholy and sadness attached, as virtually no fan under the age of 30 is likely to remember these long-forgotten halcyon days. The Magpies were relegated from the top flight in 1992 and it’s been nothing but slim pickings since, with little more than a half-decent cup run now and then and a fourth tier championship to make up for perpetual strife, anxiety and relegation battles in the lower reaches of the Football League.
And Colin believes the fans should not put up with it any longer: “The ground they have, the tradition they have, the great players they’ve had down the years, all demands that Notts should be in the Championship, and it’s against that yardstick that they will be judged, whoever the manager is and whoever comprises the board of directors. It has to be their target to get back there…” and he makes a point of enunciating each and every letter, “ASAP!”
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Joe Jones
Kevin Nolan has praised Notts County following their impressive 4-1 win over Lincoln City, claiming that fans have finally seen what the Magpies can do once they click.
Notts rode out a tricky start at Meadow Lane to edge into a numerical advantage when Billy Knott was sent off for a high boot into the face of Ryan Yates.
The hosts then took the lead through Jon Stead and, despite being pegged back by Harry Anderson's equaliser, went on to strike thrice more, through Matt Tootle, Jorge Grant and ex-Imp Terry Hawkridge.
"I thought Lincoln started very well and put us on the back foot," Nolan told the official website. "They had a couple of good chances but once the sending off came, we dominated.
"It's all about how we react to the red card. You've seen it before - we've gone down to 10 men and won games.
"Just because it's 11 v 10 it doesn't mean you're going to win the game. I thought my lads handled it really well.
"We've been working hard and we're starting to click. You saw a lot of good combinations today. These boys have a lot of quality.
"When it went to 1-1 we could have buckled and felt the pressure of the crowd but we didn't - we thrived on it and showed our quality.
"Lincoln are a top side - they're going to be in and around it this year. It was a tough game today and there are a number of other top teams who we're going to have to battle it out against.
"But I think today, especially in the second half, you could see what we can do when we click."
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Joe Jones
Notts County's amazing form shows no sign of letting up with a fifth win on the spin, a 4-1 hammering of local rivals Lincoln City at Meadow Lane.
The Imps were quicker out of the starting blocks as Josh Ginnelly saw an effort tipped over the bar by goalkeeper Adam Collin and from the resulting corner, defender Sean Raggett headed over when unmarked.
Kevin Nolan's charges were under the cosh as Lincoln sought the breakthrough, but they found themselves a man down when, 28 minutes in, midfielder Billy Knott was dismissed for a high foot on Ryan Yates.
With seven minutes of the first half remaining, a deep cross from the left by Rob Milsom found its way to Jon Stead, whose shot on the turn took a deflection to wrongfoot opposition goalkeeper Paul Farman.
It didn't take long for Lincoln to draw level after the restart, however, when Josh Ginnelly's delivery was nodded home at the far post by Harry Anderson.
Nolan's Notts are made of stern stuff though, and rather than letting their heads drop, the Magpies went ahead again on 55 minutes.
Stead turned provider, doing well to pick out Matt Tootle in the box, and the eccentric full-back's low drive flew into the bottom corner - cue the slug celebration.
On 71 minutes, Notts found the killer third in spectacular fashion as Elliott Whitehouse was penalised for a foul on the left corner of the penalty area.
Jorge Grant stood over the free kick and, from a tight angle, whipped in one of the most accurate curling shots you will ever see, finding the top-right corner of the Imps via the post.
And for the cherry on top, former Lincoln hero Terry Hawkridge got off the mark for his new club - against his former employers - cutting inside from the left, finding space for himself and curling the ball low past the stranded Farman late on.
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Joe Jones
Kevin Nolan has shown confidence in his Notts County charges ahead of the Lincoln City game, saying they need to have an air of invincibility about them.
The Magpies' record ahead of Saturday's League Two derby is impressive - an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, four league wins on the spin, no goals conceded in that time, and no defeats at home since the Portsmouth game last season.
Despite saying he "expects us to win", Nolan is nonetheless stressing for the umpteenth time that his players must not get complacent.
He told the Nottingham Post: “It’s a game I’m truly looking forward to. Our first game here was Mansfield and they brought 3,500.Hopefully we have the same atmosphere as that day.
“Sometimes players can get carried away. The lads can’t get carried away that they’re bringing 4,500 or there could be 15,000 there.
“The lads can’t get carried away from what they’ve been doing over previous weeks. Sometimes it’s about bringing them down and taking some wind out their sails.
“You don’t want them steaming in and getting sent off in the first minute because they feel that’s what you do in the big derbies. We’ve got to play in the right manner and have the right temperament.
“We’re at home. We’re expected to win. I expect us to win because that’s what we’ve built. We’ve got a mentality we can beat anyone, if we turn up and do what we’re supposed to do.
“That’s how I feel about anyone who comes to Meadow Lane. That’s the invincibility we’ve got to have as a squad and a club. We’ve got to have the fans keep behind us. When that happens it makes things easier.
“Lads can’t just expect to win, then complacency sets in. Then they do things they’re not supposed to. I’ve got to make sure the staff don’t get complacent. We have to raise our game day in, day out.
“We’ve got a lot to work on to make sure we hopefully get the points. It’s going to be massively tough. We’ll be making sure we counter their strengths. Lincoln have them in abundance.”
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Joe Jones
Notts County and Lincoln City have met a total of 65 times in competitive matches over the years.
The first fixture took the place all the way back in November 1893, a Division Two game in Nottingham which resulted in an away win for the Imps.
The record currently stands at 34 wins for Notts, 15 defeats, and 16 draws.
The last game between the two took place on 13 April 2010, a 3-1 win at Meadow Lane with goals from Lee Hughes, Graeme Lee and Delroy Facey and a strike from Steven Lennon for the opposition.
Notts have won the last two meetings, with a draw prior to those and three defeats preceding that.
Lincoln City were officially formed in 1884 as an amateur association - even though there had been a team playing since the 1860s - and turned professional in the 1891-92 season.
The following season, Lincoln became one of the 12 founder members of the Second Division alongside Small Heath, Sheffield Utd, Darwen, Grimsby, Ardwick, Burton Swifts, Northwich Victoria, Bootle, Crewe, Burslem, Port Vale and Walsall T. Swifts.
In 1895, Lincoln moved to Sincil Bank from the John O'Gaunts ground. They drew their first game at Sincil Bank 0-0 with Gainsborough Trinity and also drew their first League game 1-1 with Woolwich Arsenal.
Lincoln have never won a major trophy in their history but have got their hands on the Division 3 (North) title three times, in 1932, 1948, and 1952, as well as winning League Two in 1976 and claiming the premier non-league title in 1988 and 2017.
Last year, the Imps made history by becoming the first non-league side to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup since Queens Park Rangers in 1914.
Lincoln developed from the Roman town of Lindum Colonia, which developed from an Iron Age settlement.
Its major landmarks are Lincoln Cathedral, a famous example of English Gothic architecture, and Lincoln Castle, an 11th-century Norman castle.
Team news
Shaun Brisley limped off during Notts County's win over Crawley Town and is set to be out for around two weeks.
In terms of replacements, Elliott Hewitt came on for Brisley at Broadfield Stadium while Haydn Hollis is another who could deputise.
Winger Terry Hawkridge is set to be fit to face his former club after he was left on the bench against Crawley due to illness.
Shola Ameobi's hamstring injury is not a serious one and the striker, who has missed two matches, should not be out much longer.
Lincoln boss Danny Cowley must decide whether now is the right time to recall captain Luke Waterfall.
The defender has been unable to get in the team recently but he has been training well, according to Cowley, and last weekend's home defeat to Mansfield may open the door for his return.
Sean Long was back on the bench against the Stags after injury and the full-back will also be looking to reclaim his starting spot.
Midfielder Josh Ginnelly is fit again and pushing for a place in Cowley's line-up as the Imps boss considers making one or two changes following only a second league loss of the season.
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Chris
Notts County are enjoying a purple patch at present, sitting second in League Two thanks to a four-game winning run, and eight unbeaten in all competitions.
Up next for the Magpies is a local derby with Lincoln City coming to Meadow Lane to try their luck against Kevin Nolan's well-drilled side.
Here is Chris's Scouting Report for this week.
History
Notts County and Lincoln City have met a total of 65 times in competitive matches over the years.
The first fixture took the place all the way back in November 1893, a Division Two game in Nottingham which resulted in an away win for the Imps.
The record currently stands at 34 wins for Notts, 15 defeats, and 16 draws.
The last game between the two took place on 13 April 2010, a 3-1 win at Meadow Lane with goals from Lee Hughes, Graeme Lee and Delroy Facey and a strike from Steven Lennon for the opposition.
Notts have won the last two meetings, with a draw prior to those and three defeats preceding that.
Run-down of their last six features
Saturday 19th August – Exeter City 1 Lincoln City 0
Saturday 26th August – Lincoln City 4 Carlisle 1
Saturday 2nd September – Lincoln City 0 Luton Town 0
Saturday 9th September – Stevenage 1 Lincoln City 2
Tuesday 12th September – Forest Green Rovers 0 Lincoln City 1
Saturday 16th September – Lincoln City 0 Mansfield Town 1
The Players – Fact Sheet
Highest Goal Scorers; Matt Green 3, Alex Woodyard 2, Oliver Palmer 2 and Billy Knott 2.
Persistent Foulers; Matt Green 1 red card and 1 yellow card, Neal Eardley 3 yellow cards, Sean Raggett 3 yellow cards and Michael Bostwick 2 yellow cards.
The Key Players
Matt Green is the most well-known threat that Lincoln City bolster within their squad, he’s a mobile striker and useful on the ball – some may consider him past his former best but he is a player that is able to cause concern within any League Two defence.
Despite the name Alex Woodyard is a very practical midfielder, he’s attacking minded but does have a bit of a temper. He’s pretty direct, likes to try to influence the tempo and adds a creative flair to The Imps midfield.
They also have the experienced Michael Bostwick who plays to a similar fashion as Alex Woodyard, however he offers a defence mind-set even when going forward – his ability to pass and carve open teams is something Notts should be mindful of at all times.
Style of Play, Strengths, and Weaknesses
Lincoln City like to play the passing game, usually it starts from the back and builds going forward. The majority of play tends to come from the flanks, and The Imps move the ball around very nicely even in limited space – they also deal very well with scrappy play often making the most of any opportunities that presents itself.
Like the majority of League Two teams, Lincoln prefer to play defensively but within an attacking mind-set.
They tend to commit plenty of players at the back, yet can break extremely well through a single player at any given moment. Their height offers them good options on goal, and is useful at the back when defending.
However, from a defensive point of view – they do not like pace or direct runs into areas whereby there’s plenty of space. Whilst struggling to defend on break, and even from set pieces or crosses.
This can force them to rush their own play, and has seen them give the ball away quite cheaply but they prefer to get the play back on the ground and ball to feet.
Positional wise they organise themselves very well when given time, yet in the moment or under heavy threat it can become a free-for-all. If allowed to play, Lincoln impress – they have the ability to deliver long throw ins and often shoot from distance if space isn’t available to them.
For Notts it will be about controlling the play, whilst building themselves from the back – the midfield will have to be grouped and prepared to make direct runs when chances occur. As opportunities will arise where the Magpies’ will be able to make chances pay from the open play.
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Joe Jones
Rob Milsom has played down Notts County's impressive start to the season by giving a reminder of what happened in the previous campaign.
The Magpies currently sit second in League Two, boast an eight-game unbeaten run in all competitions, and have won - and not conceded in - the last four league outings.
However, Milsom cast an eye back to last season, when Notts also enjoyed a bright start - sitting sixth in the table in October having claimed an impressive 2-1 win at Portsmouth - before it all went horribly wrong.
“It is a long old season,” the 30-year-old told the Nottingham Post ahead of Saturday's meeting with Lincoln City. “Especially myself and a couple of the boys who were here last year, we know how quickly things can change.
“We don’t want that to happen. We need to keep this positive momentum because we know how easily things can change, like it did last season.
“It’s been a brilliant start to the season. The first game of the season didn’t go our way, but we learnt a lot from that game and since then we’ve been doing really well.
“We need to keep our feet on the ground and keep grinding out results like we have been doing recently. It’s a great start, but it’s just a start. We need to keep it going. Keep doing the basics right. Doing what we’ve been doing in the first eight games of the season.
“We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. Teams will always come here and try to make things difficult for us. It’s going to be no different on Saturday.”
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Joe Jones
Lincoln City boss Danny Cowley has admitted that Notts County will be a tough proposition on Saturday, with Kevin Nolan having learned the ropes from Sam Allardyce.
The Imps, promoted from the National League last season, head to Meadow Lane to face a Magpies team boasting a four-match winning streak and no goals conceded in that spell.
Compared to the Notts of last year, who endured a dismal 10-match losing run midway through the season, the current squad is a different proposition, and Cowley says his opposite number has had an amazing effect on the team.
“Notts County have been excellent since Kevin Nolan has walked through the door,” Cowley told Lincolnshire Live.
“As a player Nolan would have had Sam Allardyce as a manager at Bolton and West Ham so he will have learned a lot from that and there’s a lot he can take into his new role.
“I am not surprised he has done well. You can see they are a lot better organised than this time last year. They were struggling before he came in and he’s made a real impact.
“They are certainly playing for him and have had a real run, six wins in seven and four clean sheets on the bounce so they are in a really good place.
"County have had a fantastic start and have been very difficult to score against. They are very good from corners and free-kicks which is something we need to be aware of.
“They have experience in centre forward Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi. They have a great blend of youth and experienced and they will be a tough opponent."
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Joe Jones
Rob Milsom has admitted that he was disappointed and frustrated to not be playing for Notts County earlier in the season, but a positive conversation with manager Kevin Nolan changed his outlook.
The 2016-17 Notts player of the year found opportunities hard to come by earlier in the season, being mostly restricted to a substitute's role.
Milsom went on to make his first start in the 1-0 win over Swindon Town and kept his place for the win at Crawley Town by the same scoreline.
Following his first start, Nolan claimed that a "ruckus" had taken place between himself and Milsom, while the player himself suggests that it had been nothing more than a conversation.
Milsom told the Nottingham Post: “I was frustrated at the start of the season not to be playing, but I’ve just got to keep working hard and when I get my opportunity, try to take it.
“We just had a conversation. Obviously I was disappointed not to be playing, and I think that showed through. It was sort of written all over my face.
“I have a lot of respect for him (Nolan) and his opinions, and what he wants to do. It was a good conversation. It was a positive one, not a negative conversation.
“But since the conversation, it’s been brilliant. I’ve got my head down and worked hard in training. Hopefully I’ve taken my opportunities in the games that have come my way.
“I don’t think there was too much of ‘clear the air’. I was just disappointed not to be playing. We had a conversation and that was that, really. It was just about me moving forward and doing the best for the team and the club.
“I think I just needed to wait for my opportunity. I got that against Swindon. It was up to me to take that opportunity. If I’m picked to play, then I’ll give my all. Hopefully that’s enough for me to stay in the team for the following game.”
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Joe Jones
Notts County manager Kevin Nolan has admitted that he does not know what his team to face Lincoln City will be, describing his selection headache as "brilliant".
The Magpies welcome the Imps to Meadow Lane on Saturday with the possibility of making it nine games unbeaten, or even five wins on the spin in League Two.
In addition, Nolan has not ruled out the possibility of Shola Ameobi and Shaun Brisley playing, despite the former having missed the last two games with a hamstring injury and the latter having limped off against Crawley Town.
“Shaun we’ll look after with 48 hours until the game still,” the Notts gaffer told the Nottingham Post.
“Shola I don’t think will be available. That said, knowing Shola, he’s someone who could walk in on Friday and say he’s fine, not that he would walk straight back into the team.
“It’s always great when you have everyone available. Apart from that, all the lads seem good and up for it.
“Me and Thommo (Richard Thomas) sat in the office for four hours the other day and we still don’t have a clue who will play!
“It’s brilliant when you have that. Last year we had maybe 13 or 14 players you could pick from one week to another. Now we’ve got two teams.”
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Chris
This week, we have a surprise for you on Pride of Nottingham - we have not one but two Opposition Views for this weekend's League Two clash between Notts County and Lincoln City.
Alongside our chat with Luke Kempson, we have also spoken to 20-year-old Andrew Bruce (@andrewbruce97), who has given PON another great insight into life as an Imps supporter.
About Andrew: Truth be told, I’ve only been watching City since 2015, and I’d describe myself as being a fan since late 2016. I got into the club after moving to Lincoln in September 2015 to study at the university and have regularly watched games ever since. As I have only supported City for a short time I don’t have a huge array of players to pick from, but it is a tough pick between Sean Raggett and Alex Woodyard. As Raggs has actually moved on now (but is back on loan from Norwich) I’ll have to say Woodyard – a proper fans’ favourite.
Q1- You guys were in non-league for a number of years. What went wrong and how has it been put right?
Well, as just stated I wasn’t around the club at that time, and I can’t imagine how awful it must have been. I have read a lot about that period though and what I can gather is that Chris Sutton quitting as manager was a blow. Yes, he was a contentious figure, and made some awful loan signings, but he wasn’t helped by board disagreements over budget and FA Cup funds not being made available to him. However, the general consensus is had he stayed longer into his second season we would have stayed up in 2010-11. After he left relegation was almost inevitable.
I think what changed was partly the fan group, the 617 Squadron, forming in late 2011 – and Bob Dorrian, the chairman, really stepping up and putting everything on the line to keep City afloat. Although it was 6 years in non-league, it was 6 years of a sort of stability that made people really appreciate the club – how it could have been taken away with that relegation and that this was a chance to build the club back up to where it belonged.
Q2- Danny Cowley has been a revelation - just what makes him so special?
Oh, Danny. What a man. Don’t forget about Nicky though too! The brothers are special in that this is their first professional job, and first time in the Football League, so they are giving it absolutely everything they’ve got. Their man-management is exceptional – they are people who players want to play under, and the way they keep the team going is unbelievable. This team never stop – we scored a lot of late goals last season and it was certainly no fluke, so the energy Danny and Nicky have instilled into the team is crucial. Also, his inherent belief in statistics and sports science played a huge part in the success of last year, and it is an approach not seen often in this level of football.
Q3- You enjoyed a good cup run last season - can you give us an assessment of it?
The cup run caught a lot of people off-guard I imagine, especially as it started so inauspiciously in the qualifying round against Guiseley. My first game of the competition was the 1st round against Altrincham, and from what I remember we were fairly poor that game – edged out the side in a division below us and definitely didn’t look like a cup-run sort of side. The next round against Oldham was the turning point not just in the Cup, but the season. There were over 7,000 fans inside Sincil Bank, which was unheard of at that stage, and it was the perfect game. Up 3-0 by half-time against a team 2 leagues above you, then concede 2 quickfire goals midway through the 2nd half, so you’re left so on edge for the last 15 minutes you’re in the row below! And as if that wasn’t bad enough, we could barely see the action in the last 5-10 minutes as heavy fog came down and made visibility almost non-existent. It all just added to the game though and made it that bit more special.
The Ipswich games were when Lincoln first really caught the attention of the nation, and we were unlucky not to win at Portman Road – over 5,000 Imps made the journey, and the ‘Impvasion’ hashtag was born. But a draw meant that a replay at the Bank, under floodlights and on BBC 1 was required, and the feeling when Nathan Arnold rounded the helpless Ipswich keeper was indescribable. I’d said to my mate minutes earlier “we’ve scored a lot of late goals this season, we could do it again” and then it happened. Yes!
Brighton was when most people expected it to end I think, especially when they went 1-0 up – what was I thinking when I thought we could win – they were leading the Championship for goodness sake, what did you expect?! But that penalty from Alan Power and Theo popping up again meant we were in dreamland – we’re going through, and surely we’ll get one of the big boys this time?!
No disrespect to Burnley, but the draw was a bit of an anti-climax – we’d earnt a huge tie – a Chelsea, Man United etc, but got Burnley. Now we were definitely going out – Burnley had just drawn against Premier League champions-elect Chelsea the previous week, we had no chance. Their team was fairly strong, but I was determined to enjoy the day, particularly since it was the first Cup away game I’d been to. What. A. Day. No words could give an assessment of that Burnley game – the split second when the David Fishwick stand had our hearts in our mouths, eyes glued to the referee as he looked at his goal decision watch…had Sean Raggett’s header crossed the line? He pointed back to the halfway line and blew, and then it was all a blur. Mental.
The Arsenal game really was just a day out, no more than that! Obviously, we all wanted to win, and had hopes of Arsene playing a weak team, but when we saw Koscielny, Ramsey and Sanchez we knew it was over. If only Nathan Arnold had scored that chance in the first half...
What a cup run that was though, something that will never be repeated in Lincoln’s history I’m sure, and will take some beating from any non-league side in the future. Not only was it enjoyable on the pitch, but the revenue gained from it was a massive financial boost and has left the club in the black for the first time in years.
Q4- With Notts, Lincoln, Chesterfield and Mansfield all in League Two this season, which game are you looking forward to the most?
A lot of good derbies in there, and that’s without mentioning Grimsby! But I think after the recent Mansfield match, and how much of a controversial figure Steve Evans is, the away match at Field Mill in January is one I’m particularly looking forward to. Seeing Terry Hawkridge back at the Bank for Notts County at home will be nice as well, providing he doesn’t score at the weekend!
Q5- Terry Hawkridge has done well for Notts so far. How will you greet him on Saturday?
I’m sure Terry will get a great reception from Imps fans – he left for all the right reasons. He didn’t force his way out or anything like that, he was offered a 1-year deal from City, but a 2-year deal from his hometown club, and arguably a ‘bigger’ side in Notts County. We can all see why he left – plus, towards the last part of the season he was in and out of the team a lot and when he did start he was often the first substituted player, so from his point of view it made sense. It was sad to see one of the heroes of last season go, but we’ll always have those 2 goals against Macclesfield – unforgettable.
Q6- Who are your key players this season, and what do you think the score/scorers will be?
Although Sean Raggett is only back with us on loan until January he will be vital, as he was last season and so far, this season – he won back-to-back MoTM awards recently. Alex Woodyard does everything all over the pitch, and as the chant goes, he “never gives the ball away!” And finally, Matt Green is our key forward, with electric pace and a poacher’s instinct we’ll be relying on his goals this season. With the way Notts County have started the season this will of course be a tough game, but we’ve been great away from home of late. I’ll go for a 1-1, with Matt Green scoring for City.
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Chris
There is little to be said about Notts County that hasn't been said already - we are flying high at the minute in virtually every aspect of the club.
Eight matches unbeaten, four-game winning run in League Two, four clean sheets in a row, second in the table, and our brilliant manager Kevin Nolan has just signed a new three-year contract at Meadow Lane.
Up next for Notts is one of two derbies in the next three games, which sees newly promoted Lincoln City come to Meadow Lane on Saturday.
Pride of Nottingham has spoken to Imps fan Luke Kempson (Twitter: @LukeKempson1) to get an insight on the opposition.
About Luke: I have been a fan of the Imps since moving to Lincoln about eight years ago, it's the first time I can say that I truly felt what it's like to support a football club as I would rather have been playing but something clicked when I first went to Lincoln the last time we were in League Two against Hereford when the World Cup was present at Sincil Bank. My personal all time favourite player is Alan Power, as I think his hard work, mixed with his loyalty is something that is hard to find in football these days and he stuck with us through some bad, dark times and got his reward at the end of last season.
Q1- You guys were in non league for a number of years. What went wrong and how has it been put right?
What went wrong was we had a squad full of players who didn't care, they weren't proud to put on the shirt and they certainly put in very little if no effort at all. That has been an issue until recently where we seemed to give up and get bullied a lot of the time. It's been put right I feel when Chris Moyses took over, he installed some form of fight into the squad, and bought in hard working, honest players such as Bradley Wood, Matt Rhead and those players helped us out of a dark time and a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel, even though we finished 13th. I do feel that Chris Moyses laid down a foundation of which the Cowleys have taken it upon themselves to transform the club to another level and it's also been key that the football club has come back to the community which I felt during our relegation and the first three to four years it had taken a step back and not engaged as much with the fans as it did before.
Q2- Danny Cowley has been a revelation - just what makes him so special?
What can I say about these two brothers that hasn't already been said, they bought a new lease of life into Lincoln and they got the entire city to be proud of its football club again. Danny is a manager who puts players first beyond anything else, his man-management skills are perfect and because of his teaching background I am sure that has helped with the man-management side of things. Also, Danny engages with the fans and always has time out to come and talk to fans or if any fans approach him he always seems to have the time to make everyone feel a part of this club. I've not seen any football manager who puts in as much hard work as the Cowleys, they don't sleep I think or at least very little, they're at the club at 7am and won't leave until 9pm everything is thorough and everything is worked through to the finest detail. He uses a Sports Science background which I think helped propel the club to the next level and also combining two universities which are in the City and building good, solid partnerships with them.
Q3- You enjoyed a good cup run last season - can you give us an assessment of it.
It was beyond anyone's wildest dreams the cup run we went on last season it no doubt helped bring fans back to the club and engaged the entire City which seems to have stayed beyond. The fact we had a replay in the 4th qualifying round against Guiseley just to get through to round 1, then scraping a 2-1 win against Altrincham in the 1st round. Then it began on a very foggy night at Sincil Bank on a Monday, Oldham who were struggling in League One came into town and I felt we dominated 60 minutes of that game and were 3-0 up before they had a late comeback but it wasn't enough for them to get anything out of the game and what I remember by the final whistle you literally couldn't see the pitch as the fog was that thick and it had come down that low but that was the beginning of what was to come. The third round, the magical round for all lower league clubs felt a little underwhelming at the time to be going to Ipswich away, but as the game got closer and closer the more tickets being sold a 5,000 strong army of Imps fans made their way down to Portman Road, we of course went in with no expectation - I mean we were top of the National League, but they're a Championship side it was more of enjoying the day and hoping to battle. It finished 2-2 but in the replay we went on to win and into round four we go and the visit of then Championship leaders Brighton. Again, Sincil Bank was sold out and the atmosphere had been building, queing hours for tickets and they took the lead from a good flick on by Glenn Murray and it was a good finish from their striker in a first half which I think Brighton edged. The second half was something magical as Alan Power, an OG one of the worst I've seen and Theo Robinson set Sincil Bank a light as we came from 0-1 down to win 3-1 and that magical feeling spread again. Then more hours queing up for tickets in the freezing cold, as we all hoped to get a Burnley ticket and need I say more about what happened at Burnley, we bought them down into a physical battle, with Rheady bullying the life out of Barton all game long, why Barton would choose to mark our big man is still beyond me. But come the 89th minute and one of the set piece routines the Cowley's work on in training as Waterfall was free at the back post to head it back across the face of goal for his CB partner Sean Raggett who was always going to get on the end of that and beat Keane and Heaton, a slight pause before the goal was given and that then was utter madness for the next five minutes of injury time as we held on and claimed a priceless victory away at a Premiership side who the Sunday before had held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw and we'd beaten them, Lincoln City had made it to the Quarter finals of the FA Cup. It truly was a fairytale and then we get to Arsenal, due to the pressure Wenger was under at that time he fielded his strongest eleven and for 45 minutes we were in it, battling as 9,000 Imps were roaring the side on. It took a deflection from a Walcott shot to break the deadlock just before HT. Then well, you saw world class players tearing apart the Lincoln defence. We lost 5-0 but we played very well, with some passion. I'll always remember at the end, Danny Cowley had got the players in a huddle to reassure and encourage them that what they had achieved no other Non-League side had ever done that in over 100 years. The players were disappointed to be on the end of a 5-0 result but they came to applaud the 9,000 strong contingent and even was clapped by Arsenal fans as well, the effort was there for all to see. The money generated from this cup run has helped us have a much more healthy budget for this season and going towards building our own training ground. All in all it was a magical cup run, in a magical season almost once in a lifetime season for where we were at.
Q4- With Notts, Lincoln, Chesterfield and Mansfield all in League Two this season, which game are you looking forward to the most?
I was just happy to be back in the EFL, however with some wonderful local games to whet the appetite again was good. Games against Notts, Mansfield, Chesterfield and Grimsby were all dates most Imps fans were looking out for I'd imagine and the ticket sales for the trip to Notts on Saturday is clearly one a lot of Lincoln fans are relishing with selling out our allocation and even the 300 extra tickets we were given so 4,500 Imps will be at the game and the atmosphere should be amazing too.
Q5- Terry Hawkridge has done well for Notts so far. How will you greet him on Saturday?
Hawkridge is one hell of a player with one hell of a delivery, he scored the two goals to assure us of the League and I was gutted when he turned down a new contract with us and signed for you. However I shall be giving him a good reception before and after the game as he was one of our better players we've had and it's good to see him starting well for Notts, but during the ninety minutes he is the enemy so probably some banter during that time but I have nothing but respect for Terry.
Q6- Who are your key players this season, and what do you think the score/scorers will be?
We've made some shrewd signings this summer, none other than a contract extension for our engine Alex Woodyard and also his new partner in midfield of Michael Bostwick which was a signing I never thought we would be able to get. Those two for me are a danger if we can play through the thirds as both are more than comfortable on the ball. Also I feel we've got electric pace down the flanks with Harry Anderson, Nathan Arnold, Jordan Maguire-Drew and Josh Ginelly. That is also a danger, especially as we usually bring one of them off the bench fresh when the full backs of the opposition are tiring. Matt Green up front an accomplished striker who scores goals at this level and has such pace and strength in the channels.. Those are my key players to watch out for. I can only see it being a 1-2 win for the Imps, usually we wake up after going a goal down, but with this squad a majority of the time we're fighters and we have no idea when we're beaten.
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Joe Jones
Here is Pride of Nottingham's roundup of all the biggest news stories from League Two over the last week.
- Port Vale parted company with manager Michael Brown after a run of seven league games without a win left the freshly relegated Valiants bottom of League Two.
- Chesterfield, another recently relegated side, sacked boss Gary Caldwell after the Spireites were beaten for the seventh time this season.
- Guy Branston was subsequently appointed as interim manager at Chesterfield, with former Middlesbrough, Derby and Italy striker Fabrizio Ravanelli believed to be interested in the permanent role.
- Crawley Town defender Josh Yorwerth, 22, signed a two-year contract extension at the Broadfield Stadium.
- Torquay United signed striker Rhys Murphy, a former Arsenal trainee, on a three-month loan from Forest Green Rovers.
- And though it's Notts related, it's big news - in case you've missed it, Kevin Nolan has signed a new three-year deal at Meadow Lane!
All news stories sourced from BBC Sport and Sky Sports.
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Joe Jones
Notts County boss Kevin Nolan has hailed his backroom management team, saying Richard Thomas and Mark Crossley deserve a lot of credit in the club's turn in fortunes.
Nolan put pen to paper on a new three-year deal at Meadow Lane earlier this week, a major step forward in the club hoping to work its way up the Football League.
“I’m delighted Thommo will be with me. Norm (Crossley) will be with me too,” the Notts manager told the Nottingham Post. “He’s got a couple of years on his contract already so he’s fine!
“The whole staff is great from them to Kate (Alan Hardy’s PA). You forget about these people who make it possible to concentrate on football.
“I want to thank Alan for being first class. We hit it off in my interview and knew it could be great. I was very confident I could keep this club up and get it to a stable position this year.
“I knew how Thommo worked. He’s one of the best coaches I’ve worked with. I knew he could take me to the level. I feel I’m a good coach, but he’s much better than me.
“He’s born to be a coach. He’s been living with me. Some nights we sit till half 12 talking about football. He doesn’t stop. He’s got a drive the same as mine. He’s the best assistant I could ask for.
“Norm is a massive personality. He’s been a massive part of this. The three of us, we’re always together and we’re a good team.”
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Joe Jones
Alan Hardy has described manager Kevin Nolan as Notts County's "figurehead", similar to what Sir Alex Ferguson was at Manchester United.
The former Bolton Wanderers, Newcastle United and West Ham midfielder has just committed to the Meadow Lane hotseat by penning a new three-year deal.
Nolan helped the Magpies avoid relegation last season following his appointment in January, turning around a side that had lost 10 games on the trot.
This season, the 35-year-old overcame a 3-0 defeat at Coventry City on the opening day of the season to steer Notts to second in League Two, boasting an eight-game unbeaten run.
Notts owner Hardy acknowledges that Nolan is likely to move on to a Premier League club or even the role of England manager one day, but insists that, for the time being, he is on board for the journey.
“I know that Kevin is one of our future stars in the game. I acknowledge that one day he’s probably going to be a manager in the Premier League or maybe even manager of England," Hardy told the Nottingham Post.
“At some point he may move on so we need to embed the foundations for the next three years. He can take this club forward.
“I’ve got limited experience in football but people who have been around the game a long time like Darren Fletcher and the people he’s speaking to, also people like Les Bradd rate Kevin right up there with the best managers they've seen.
“We talk about being on a journey. That means the Championship. Internally we present this club like we want to be in the Championship next year.
"I know we have to go through League One, but the infrastructure we’re putting in place, the culture we’re building, it’s the start of the journey.
“Kevin can lead people. He’s a leader of men. He’s been captain of three Premier League clubs. He oozes confidence, character and passion to galvanise people.
“The club needed a leader and he’s the figurehead. Every club who has that, like Sir Alex (Ferguson), has done well.
“This was a club which was intensive care. It was 91st in the Football League. They had one foot in the National League.
“The word which was used was toxic in terms of the atmosphere. What an incredible turnaround it’s been."
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Pride of Nottingham is an independent fansite devoted to Notts County, the world’s oldest league 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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