There's been many things unusual about 2020, both from a footballing and non-footballing perspective.
One of the many unusual things from a Notts County point of view is that for the first time in any Notts fan's lifetime, Notts have not participated in the FA Cup this year due to an outbreak of COVID cases causing Notts to withdraw from the competition.
As it is FA Cup 1st round weekend, an exciting weekend for any lower league football fan, I thought it would be a good time to look back on Notts's best and FA Cup moments.
The most recent successful FA Cup run for Notts took place in the 17-18 season, when Notts got as far as the 4th round before crashing out after an 8-1 defeat at Premier League Swansea in a game shown live on BBC.
That FA Cup run started almost 3 years ago exactly, with a Friday night under the lights at Meadow Lane against League One Bristol Rovers. Against higher league opposition, Notts came back from 2-0 down to comfortably win 4-2 and prove that we could compete against teams at a higher level.
However, the 2nd round would provide a very different challenge against National League South side Oxford City. This was not the easy win most Notts fans expected, as Oxford City came back from behind twice and looked like taking us to a replay.
However, in the dying seconds of the game Jorge Grant would score a winner which took Notts into the 3rd round for the first time in 6 years. On a personal level, I remember rewatching that game with my dad on BT later (who hadn’t been there) and at 2-2 he asked if I was going to the replay, not knowing what happened next!
There was a lot of anticipation about who Notts would get in the 3rd round, and the draw did not disappoint, sending Notts to Brentford’s Griffin Park one more time before they moved grounds. Notts fans packed out the away terrace that day, and it was a memorable away day as a Jon Stead screamer caused a cup upset and sent Notts into the 4th round.
However, despite bravely taking Swansea to a replay in the 4th round, that would prove to be the end of Notts’s FA Cup journey after losing 8-1 in the replay as previously discussed.
On the subject of Premier League clubs, the last time prior to 2018 that Notts would face a Premier League club in the FA Cup was way back in 2011. With Notts going well in the league under Paul Ince, Notts fans had the additional excitement of a trip to Sunderland in the FA Cup 3rd round.
It turned out to be a memorable away day for Notts, as goals from Lee Hughes and Craig Westcarr sent us into the next round.
The next round brought an even more exciting tie, as Notts welcomed Man City to Meadow Lane. Man City were not the force that they are today, but were improving and spending big money under Roberto Mancini.
With the ITV cameras in town, Notts held Man City to a memorable 1-1 draw, with a Neal Bishop header being cancelled out by a late Edin Dzeko equaliser. Thousands of Notts fans would flock to the Etihad for the replay, but much like Swansea 7 years later our cup run would end in a heavy defeat, losing 5-0 this time.
I hope this article has brought back fond memories of Notts cup runs of recent years. Hopefully the 21-22 season when things are back to normal will bring many more memories for Notts fans, with Notts back in the EFL!