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Notts County

Est. 1862

Venue

Meadow Lane, Nottingham NG2 3HJ Tel: 0115 952 9000

Ground Capacity

20,300

Home Strip

 Away Strip

Seating 20,300

Record Attendance

47,310 v York City - F.A.Cup 6th Round March 1955
Who are ya? The Magpies
What Division are you in? Football League Division Two

Websites

www.nottscountyfc.co.uk (Official site)
www.nottscounty.info
www.pieskitbag.homestead.com
http://homepage.ntlworld.com/carousel/maggies.
www.supernotts.com
http://nottscounty.rivals.net
htmlwww.nottscotrust.org.uk (Supporters Trust)
www.exnottscountyplayers.co.uk
www.jimmywillan.btinternet.co.uk/connection/magpiesongs.htm
www.youpies.co.uk
www.1862.net
www.nottscountyfc.cjb.net
www.nottscounty-mad.co.uk
www.nottscounty.tk (Scandinavian Supporters Club)
www.mehstg.com/nottsco.htm
www.nottscountyfanclub.piczo.com

 

You must have come in a taxi

  From North - M1 to junction 26 and pick up the A610 Nuthall Road into Nottingham. Once in Nottingham City centre, follow signs for A606 Melton Mowbray. Once you reach the BBC studios, continue down London Road. You will see the Ground on your LHS, turn left at traffic lights into Meadow Lane.

From North (avoiding city centre) - M1 to junction 26 and pick up the A610 Nuthall Road into Nottingham. Continue onto the A6514 Ring Road at Western Boulevard and turn right signposted Ring Road South, Continue on the Ring Road following signs for A52 Grantham for 3.8 miles, passing Queens Medical Centre, *over Clifton Bridge, to the Nottingham Knight Island, then take the first exit onto the A60 Loughborough Road. Continue on the this road for 2.8 miles. Turn right at first available junction after Trent Bridge into Meadow Lane.

From East - Take the A52 Radcliffe Road into Nottingham following signs for Trent Bridge. Approaching Trent Bridge is a major intersection, bear right, crossing Lady Bay bridge. At junction, turn left onto Meadow Lane.

From South - M1 jnc.24. Take the A453 towards Nottingham. At the dual carridgeway, exit A453 for B679 Wilford Road. Follow this road for 1.5 miles to 'T' junction. Turn left onto A60 (Nottingham). Continue on this road for 0.9 miles on your. Turn right at first available junction after Trent Bridge into Meadow Lane.

From West - A52 into Nottingham, then follow signs for Melton Mowbray and A606 Trent Bridge, then as *North. 

    Nottingham City Transport no.s 2, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 11 from Nottm City Centre;  Centrebus X6 (Grantham Bus Station - Nottm Friar Lane); Trent Barton Keyworth connection (Nottm Broadmarsh Bus Station - Keyworth) & Ruddington Connection (Nottm Broadmarsh - Ruddington) all go down London Road, passing the Ground.

    Nottingham Midland - 1 mile. As you come out of the main station entrance, turn left and then left again onto Queens Road. Follow the road down to the dual carriageway and then turn right onto London Road. The ground is now easily in view. Turn left into Meadow Lane at next traffic lights.  

For a map of the location, Click here.

 

My garden shed is bigger than this

Older than the Football Association itself, Notts County Football Club proudly hold the distinguished title of the oldest league side in the world.

Formed in 1862, a year after Nottinghamshire's oldest football team, Worksop Town, the committee that formed the Club adopted the policy to establish itself as a gentleman's club. Perhaps this explains the inclination to ply their trade in their early years at grounds that hosted cricket, then regarded as very much a gentleman's game. They started out at Park Hollow, which was part of the privately owned Park estate, next to Nottingham Castle. For the first two years of their existence, they would play games amongst themselves. It was only after a move to the vast open space of the Meadows Cricket Ground, close to their present home,  that County finally stumped up the courage to exhibit their interpretation of the infant game against genuine opposition in a 20-a-side encounter. For matches likely to attract larger crowds, County hired out the then privately owned Trent Bridge Cricket Ground. 

In October 1877, County moved away from the town centre to the Beeston Cricket Ground. However, County still intermittently continued to use Trent Bridge, and in November 1878 they played Derbyshire in one of the earliest known floodlit games of football. By November 1880, County were to move to yet another cricket ground, the Castle Cricket Ground. This was much nearer to the town centre, and thus had the potential to attract more spectators. However, within three years the Club was on the move again. With Trent Bridge able to accommodate over 5,000 spectators, County decided to move in permanently, replacing local rivals Nottingham Forest as the tenants of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. County's arrival in 1883 at Trent Bridge in place of Forest was believed to have been engineered by the Cricket Club's secretary , Edwin Browne, who immediately assumed a similar post with Notts County. It was here that Notts put aside their former inclinations and turned professional in 1885, becoming founder members of the Football League in 1888. 

Whilst the Club were to remain at Trent Bridge for the next 27 years, their tenancy arrangement with Notts CCC was far from perfect. Cricket still took priority at Trent Bridge, and each September and April, County had to find alternative venues for home fixtures. Throughout the 1880s County would again use The Meadows and the Castle Cricket Ground's during the cricket season. Up until 1908, they also built some bridges with their rivals Nottingham Forest, and as a result reached an agreement to use whatever ground Forest had at the time when Forest were playing away from home.

It was quite obvious that Trent Bridge was not a suitable long-term venue for a League team, although unlike Bramall Lane  and the County Ground in Northampton, the ground's owners did at least permit County to rest a portable wooden stand on the open touchline (though the Club had to move this stand occasionally to prevent wear and tear on the turf). A more serious handicap was County's lack of support whilst at Trent Bridge. An all-time low attendance for a normal scheduled League match was recorded at the ground when an estimated crowd of 300 saw Notts entertain Crewe Alexandra in Division Two, on 17 February 2020. Such a pitiful turn-out is even more astounding in view of the fact that only a month later County won the FA Cup, becoming the first 2nd Division club to do so, with a 4-1 annihilation of Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park in front of 38,000 spectators. No less baffling was one of the lowest attendances ever recorded for a First Division match at Trent Bridge, when 1,500 were estimated to have watched Notts v. Preston North End on 27 March 2020, towards the conclusion of County's best season in Division One for a decade. 

Whilst all was not so rosy on the pitch, County's were able to make a valuable contribution to the future of a future international dominant force off it, if only by mistake. In 1903, a textiles wholesale dealer in Italy, came to view the pink shirts and the black slacks used by the recently formed Juventus Football Club in Turin. So impressed was he with the potential of the kit, that he suggested  to Juve that they enhance the quality of the the jersey by importing a more complete design from England . The Club agreed, and, as the textile industry was synonymous with Nottingham at the time, a Nottingham's textile manufacturer was contacted. The Nottingham firm were ordered to produce a pink and black jersey. However, this message was somehow mis-communicated along the way and as a result, things did not quite go to plan. The sample garment sent over from Turin did not help matters, as one of the companies clerks thought that the pink colour looked rather white and stained. Indeed, he saw the similarity between the "stained" jersey and Notts County's black & white jersey. As a result, a black and white strip, rather than a black and pink strip. were shipped out to Italy, hence the reason Juve wear black & white to this day. In 1997, Juve returned the faux par when they choose to celebrate their centenary by mistakenly playing the black and white strips of Newcastle United, rather than the club that had removed the pink from their colours all those years ago.

As early as 1905, the Football League had made it clear that County's groundhopping arrangements were unacceptable, and that Notts must find a home they could use all through the season. Apparently, a number of clubs threatened by relegation had complained that whilst some teams had played Notts at Forest's Town Ground when Trent Bridge was being used by the cricketers, they had had to play their away fixture against Notts at Trent Bridge. The League agreed this was hardly fair, and Notts began a half-hearted search for new premises.  

It was not until 1910 that they moved, the final impetus coming from Notts CCC, who were anxious to see the footballers leave. There were complaints about the damage the footballers were doing to the pitch, a weak argument given the fact that the football pitch only marginally encroached onto the cricket field on the Fox Road Side of the ground, an area used mainly as a practice area by the cricketers. Perhaps feeling some pressure, Notts decided to switch their 1st Round home tie in the FA Cup to Bradford City's Valley Parade. A short time after, Notts finally found a place they could call there own, with not a cricket ball in sight.

Meadow Lane was initially an open field next to the cattle market. With great haste, County had contractors erect the steelwork and roof of the Main Stand in just nine days for £3,000. interestingly, this was an identical stand to the one built at Forest's City Ground. Once the whole stand had been fitted out, the cost rose to £10,000. At the South End (now the Family Stand) a small wooden stand was actually floated across the river from their old home at Trent Bridge. This was the oldest stand in the country before it was torn down in 1978, and seated 1,400 people. The other two sides of the ground were open terracing. The Sneinton side terrace the more interesting of the two. Covered, it had an open stream behind it called Tinkers Brook, which ran down to the River Trent. A man with a long pole with a cane basket on the end would be stationed by the brook to fish out the ball during games.

Meadow Lane was opened with a First Division match against Forest on 3rd September 1910. An estimated 28,000 witnessed a 1-1 draw. The local newspaper reported the match as follows:

"There were some rousing scenes on Saturday in connection with the County Ground in Meadow Lane, the admirably equipped and splendidly compact new home of the Notts. F.C. Spectators rolled up in numbers which had no parallel in the club's long history, and on all hands was to be found evidence of the interest and enthusiasm which the launching of the new undertaking had aroused. Moreover the good wishes of the powers that be in the football world, of the city fathers, who stand in position of landlords to the club, and of friends and rivals alike, found hearty expression at a function which the directors could not have had more convincing testimony of the wisdom of their decision to acquire headquarters of their own. In honour of the day, flags and bunting were freely employed around the ground. The old club flag floated proudly from a lofty mast at the Meadow Lane end, and in the opposite comer, a brand new emblem, mounted on a flagstaff of Ruddington oak, presented by Major Ashworth, offered its mute welcome to the thousands of spectators who came to witness the first match."

During the First World War, Meadow Lane was taken over by the army. A little known fact is that due to some unlucky cup draws and the First World War, Notts did not play a cup tie at Meadow Lane until January 1920. In 1923 the club built a new stand on top of the Sneinton side banking, appropriately called The County Road Side, after the road which ran behind it. The terracing under the roof was wooden, and the stand sported a simple triangular gable - a lovable feature retained at Meadow Lane ever since. In 1926, Notts were relegated back to Division Two,  not to regain elite status for another 55 years. The 1925/26 season also the first season in which accurate gate figures were required by the Football league. Notts registered an average of just under 15,000 with gates of over 30,000 for the visits of Leicester City, Fulham and Arsenal. 

In the early 1930’s, Newark born Willie Hall would grace the Meadow Lane turf for the Magpies, later made famous for his record five goals in an international for England against Ireland in 1938. In the same year, the legendary William ‘Dixie’ Dean played his last year in English football at Meadow Lane, having scored a record 60 goals in a season for Everton, twelve goals in five games for England and an astonishing 473 goals in 502 first class games. 

Disaster struck Meadow Lane in the 1940's, both natural and man-made. In 1941, despite or because of a machine gun emplacement on the open Kop, Luftwaffe bombs destroyed the northern wing of the Main Stand and cratered the pitch so badly that County had to withdraw from the wartime League competition. During the winter of 1946-47, when prisoners of war were used to clear the pitch of snow, the Trent submerged Meadow Lane only marginally less than the City Ground. Being further from the river banks and slightly higher, Meadow Lane drained more quickly and suffered less than Forest's ground and for a time the clubs again shared their facilities. 

On a brighter note, Meadow Lane's golden age was unquestionably a five year period shortly after the end of the Second World War. The signing of England centre forward Tommy Lawton brought crowds flocking to see the 3rd Division South club, average gates were approaching 35,000 as Notts won promotion to Division Two in 1950, this, to date, was the last season in which Notts were in a higher division than Forest. By the time Lawton had moved to Brentford in 1951, he had made a total of 166 appearances, scoring 103 goals. In January 1949 County also recorded a record League victory At Meadow Lane, 11-1 against Newport County in Division 3 South. Floodlights were installed at Meadow Lane in March 1953, switched on for a friendly against Derby County. Highly appropriate, given that County's opponents in the first ever Nottingham floodlit game in 1878 had been Derbyshire. In 1962 the lights were updated for modern usage, remaining in use for 30 years. Meadow Lane recorded its highest attendance of 47,310 in a 6th Round  F.A. Cup tie against York City in March 1955. 

Sadly, within ten years, the Club would see attendance slump to around 4,500. With the City Council embarking on a slum clearance exercise on the Meadows side of the Ground, Notts were deprived of much of it's working class support. They would recover a little during the Jimmy Sirrell inspired early 1970's, but would slump again as their neighbours across the Trent embarked on their quest for world domination.  Built in 1910, the wooden Meadow Lane End stand had a great deal of sentimental and historic value. However, in an attempt to modernise and also to meet legislation, it  had to go.  In its place arose a huge, blank, brick wall, the back of an £800,000 sports complex, the Meadow Club. 

An uglier solution could not have been found, for now the ground was effectively three-sided, although there could be no doubt about the standard of sporting facilities housed beyond that blank wall, and it proved to be a vital source of income for the Club with the executive boxes installed at the summit.. In the shadow of Brian Clough's outrageous success with Forest, average gates failed to rise above 12,000 and the much needed percentage of away gate money taken by visitors suddenly scrapped. With such low gates Notts decided that extra accommodation behind the Meadow Lane goal would not be necessary and so left a void between the goal and the wall. The Meadow Lane End would remain this way for over a decade, with very little else changing at at the ground during the 1980's. However, all this was to change in dramatic fashion as the Club entered the 1990's.

The process began when a proposal was muted in 1989 for a all-purpose stadium for County & Forest to ground share on the Wilford power station site. Whilst County were quite keen on the idea, Forest supremo Brian Clough certainly was not.  Following the events of Hillsborough in April 1989, legal requirements for clubs in the top two divisions to have all-seater stadiums forced County's hand in having to redevelop Meadow Lane. With the Club in the top flight, desperate to grab a share of the promised finances of the inaugural Premiership the following season, the Club took a gamble and built. Astoundingly, the Club constructed three new stands in the summer of 1992 for less than £3m. This was partly helped by record gate receipts of £125,000 for an F.A.Cup 6th Round tie against Manchester City in February 1991, but mainly at the expensive of the Club's best playing staff, who the Club were forced to sell to fund the developments.

The Kop terrace at the Cattle Market end was replaced by an enormous, steep, covered stand held aloft by two partially obstructive steel posts. Initially shared, it  now houses up to 5,400 visiting supporters. Taking a leaf out of Forest's book, the club name 'Notts County F C" is spelt out in yellow seats amongst the black. Whilst not for the faint hearted, the views from the summit towards the Trent and the south of the county beyond, are quite are magnificent. With Forest's City Ground also within view, is it any wonder that the County faithful didn't want to take up residence at this end of the ground?. At you enter the rear of the stand, you will be able to notice the reminisce of the old banked terracing behind the stand, a fine memory of times gone by.

The new County Road Stand, later to be renamed the Jimmy Sirrell Stand, has fortunately reinstated it's famous, classic, 1920's style triangular gable. One of only a few like it left in the country, it announces the Club's year of establishment, 1862, with the magpie flag proudly fluttering on flagpole high above. Fittingly, the club have spelt out the word 'Magpies' in yellow seating amongst the black seats. This stand, an entirely cantilevered affair, houses the more vociferous of County fans, though strangely, in the top right hand corner.

Back in the mid 1980's, a small token concrete 5 step terrace had been erected in front of the unwelcoming Meadow Lane End wall. Thankfully in 1992, serious action was taken to return Meadow Lane to a proper four sided stadium, with a genuine stand being built in front of the sports hall, with up to 19 steps running down from the executive boxes to pitchside. A roof, which is supported by one central post, and wind guards on either side of the stand, have been fitted on what has become a family stand from which the playing staff no longer emerge. Simple, yet effective "N C F C" letter have been spelt out with yellow seating, keeping in tradition with the other two stands. The highlight of the stand is the large electronic scoreboard which hangs precariously from the roof fascia. Judging by the amount of times the white 'Notts County F.C.' lettering fails to remain attached to the sport hall, one would not take up residence directly below. The sports hall now houses administration offices and the Club Shop. The scoreboard, along with the flash new floodlights, said at the time to be the brightest in Europe, were switched on for the official opening of the new stands on November 14th 1992 by the legendary Tommy Lawton.

Sadly, by the time the work begun on all three stands,  Notts were back into Division Two. The gamble had failed to pay off, and it almost cost them their very existence. Nevertheless, the final project for the Club went ahead, as the 82 year-old Main Stand on the Iremonger Road side of the ground, (named after 1920's Magpie's keeper, Albert Iremonger, County's most capped player) was demolished. The new stand alone cost more to build than the other three sides put together, and it's air of class partly justifies this. Built in 1994, the Derek Pavis Stand, renamed after the Club's Life President, accommodates the main offices, changing rooms and banqueting facilities. On the half way line are the team dugouts, sitting below the directors box, and an area designed similar to the old Wembley Steps. A cantilevered roof covers most of the stand, and  necessary windbreaks sit on either side. The most striking feature in the stand are the seats. Rather than following the lettering format of the other three stands, the Club have imaginatively used the seating to artistically 'sketch' two magpies, seemingly hovering above for a better view of the action. A truly stunning addition to the stand.  

Future Plans

The ground now has a capacity of 20,300, and although Notts may presently be a lower league club, the ground still boasts some of the best facilities outside the Premiership. The stands are also tight and compacted, located very close to the pitch, which is always a good thing in the eyes of true football fans. Sadly, since being built, the stadium built to stage Premiership football had only entertained five-figure crowds on just two occasions at the time of writing. County have fought back admirably from a period of administration, partly caused by the expense of the new stadium facilities. During this period, it looked as though the Magpies might once again have to flee their nest, and, horrors of horrors, be forced to take up residence with their neighbours across the Trent. Happily County's historic home now looks set to celebrate its' Centenary in 2010. 

 

Additional Photography

                                                 

        

                                                     Click on a thumbnail to view a full size picture.

© Christopher Rooney - permission required for photo & text usage

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