I have a confession to make. I feel sorry for Forest fans.
They so desperately want the Cloughie years to return; to be European Champions again. But the facts of the matter are that those days will never be repeated – so long as money falls from the Sky into the lake of professional football to make the big clubs richer, the small clubs poorer, and the gap filled by the ‘also-ran’ clubs, which currently seems to stretch from the middle of the Premiership into the top half of League One, bigger.
But let’s leave the fans from across the Trent to dream their impossible dream and, instead ask ourselves a more realistic question. One which can only be both asked, and answered, with rose-tinted specs removed and after swallowing a course of medication prescribed to cure UES (Unrealistic Expectation Syndrome).
Are Notts County an ‘also ran’ club or now consigned to become a small club?
The last two or three seasons have shown conclusively that to be successful in League One, and then hold head above water in the Championship, the primary requirement of any football club is to have either an oligarch as owner with an ego only slightly smaller than his bank balance, or the income generated by regular 5-figure home-match attendance figures. Preferably both. Members of the jury, as evidence, I lay before you AFC Bournemouth.
It is now 20 years since I first moved to Nottingham and became a Pie-head. In that time I have seen the Club fall from second-tier grace and then since zebedee between the third and forth tiers.
Sadly, in the same period of time, I have also seen average Meadow Lane attendance figures fall from five figures to lower-half four figures.
Sadly, his profligacy has not been supported by a growth in turnstile income and, until fans start returning to watch Notts in greater numbers, I rather fear that our once great football club may well not yet have reached the depths of its descent because even Mr Trew’s apparent willingness to fritter away his money will come to an end if attendances at home matches don’t start to grow.
Being cynical – if the expectation of seeing a return on his investment disappears, he will surely call it a day and quit while he shows no sign of winning.
While I understand that football is an entertainments business and that the fans will decided whether the entertainment on offer represents a worthy return on their money, I can’t help wondering whether, if the absent fans had attended more than just the last away match of each of the previous two seasons, the Club would still have found itself back in the basement division once again?
All the signs, pre-season, are that Ray Trew understands that the fans want to be entertained. To be able to leave Meadow Lane on a Saturday evening feeling buoyed up and thrilled; wanting more. He has chucked what could turn out to be the last throw of his dice by putting up a substantial playing budget and investing in a manager who wants to play a thrilling brand of football that gets bums off seats, let alone on them.
We hope that the close-season player dealings will turn out to be astute and that we have a successful season ahead.
But….. the final, vital, piece to complete this jig-saw of success is now in the pockets of us, the Notts County fans. If we truly want our club to be successful, then we have to pay our part in making it so. It won’t happen in an empty stadium.
Corrupting the final lines of a quite brilliant set of lyrics: “If you want to make Meadow Lane a better place, take a look at yourself and make that change”! Only when we return in numbers to Meadow
Lane will our football club start to climb up the league again. The blame game has to stop here. It’s up to us now. So let’s do this Club proud and support it in the truest sense of the word.