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Notts County FC History

Jimmy Sirrel and Don Masson

Jimmy Sirrel and Don Masson were an integral part of Notts climbing from the basement division to the top flight.

Image by: Nottingham Post


19:38 3rd February 2012

by Dane Vincent

Notts County FC: The World’s Oldest Football League Club…

‘The opening of the Nottingham Football Club commenced on Tuesday last at Cremorne Gardens. A aide was chosen by W. Arkwright and Chas. Deakin. A very spirited game resulted in the latter scoring two goals and two rouges against one and one.’ - The Nottingham Guardian from 28 November 1862

Notts County Football Club, now universally recognised as The World’s Oldest Football League Club, was formed in 1862. Official formation followed two years later as the 'Notts. Foot Ball Club'.
Pre-dating The Football Association, the club initially played matches of its own devising at Park Hollow, inside the grounds of the old Nottingham Castle. In 1864, the decision was made to take on outside opposition from both England and Scotland, which led to a move away from the club’s initial home to allow for larger crowds. 

DID YOU KNOW? In November 1872, Notts full-back Ernest Greenhalgh played for England against Scotland in the first ever international match, thereby becoming the club's first international player.

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The following years saw the club appear at numerous locations, including Castle Cricket Ground (1894), and Nottingham Forest’s Town Ground (1895 and 1896) and City Ground (1899 to 1909). However, the club’s main home, from 1883 onwards, was Trent Bridge, until the permanent switch across the river to Meadow Lane was completed in 1910. 

In 1888, Notts became one of 12 founder members of The Football League and ended the first season in 11th place, above Stoke City. A highest ever league finish of third was achieved in 1890.91 – a feat that was replicated in 1900. 

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DID YOU KNOW? Notts have not always played in Black and White stripes, having started out in black and amber hoops. This style was replaced by a chocolate and blue combination before adopting the trademark design. The club has moved away from the stripes from time-to-time, including a white jersey with a single black chevron, plain white with black cuffs, pin-stripes, ‘V’-style stripes and the classic ‘Barcode’ design. Yellow and, more recently, gold have been added as a complimentary trim in recent years. 

In 1890.91, Notts reached the FA Cup Final for the first time, only to be defeated 3-1 by Blackburn Rovers at The Oval, despite thumping the trophy winners 7-1 only a week prior. The club made amends on 31 March 1894, with Jimmy Logan netting a hat-trick in a 4-1 triumph over Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park.

DID YOU KNOW? Harry Cursham is the current top-scorer in the FA Cup and has held the record since 1887. The striker scored 49 goals – all of them in a Notts shirt. 

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The fixture is also memorable for another reason, as Notts became first team outside the top flight to win the tournament, having been relegated to the Second Division in 1893. Promotion back to the top tier was confirmed in 1896.97, after a series of 'test matches' – meetings between the bottom sides in the First Division and the top teams in the Second Division to determine which clubs would play in each league the following season. 

In 1912.13 Notts were again relegated but returned the following season as champions of the Second Division. 1919.20 saw another demotion, though another Second Division championship was added to the trophy cabinet in 1922.23. 

Despite a ninth-position finish in 1924.25, Notts dropped back down to the Second Division the following campaign. Then, in 1929.30, the club fell to the Third Division South, only to bounce back at the first time of asking – as champions.  

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DID YOU KNOW? Between 1905 and 1925, goalkeeper Albert Iremonger played 564 league and 37 cup games for the Magpies. He remains the club’s highest appearance holder and is unlikely to be beaten. The eccentric giant also has a road named after him, which runs behind the back of the Derek Pavis Stand. 

After 16th, 15th and 18th placed finishes respectively, Notts ended the 1934.35 season at the foot of the Second Division. Prior to the Second World War, Notts narrowly missed out on promotion, as they finished 1936.37 second in the Third Division (South) – two points adrift of the champions, Luton Town. 

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The leagues took an extended break, as football was suspended between 1939 and 1946, due to the Second World War. Only regional matches and cup competitions, which allowed clubs to field guest players, were played.
On the night of 8 May 1941, bomb damage produced craters at Meadow Lane and the ground was subsequently closed. This meant that 1941.42 was the only season when no football was played by the Magpies. 

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In November 1947, Notts stunned the footballing world with the recruitment of England international Tommy Lawton. The England number nine had left top-flight Chelsea to join the Third Division South Magpies - much like Wayne Rooney dropping down to League 1 nowadays.  

Lawton’s signing was for a British record fee but his arrival added around 10,000 to the gates at Meadow Lane. The average home crowds for the next eight seasons remain the highest in the club’s history. 

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An example of the bolstered attendances was a Boxing Day encounter with Swansea that saw 45,000 pack into Meadow Lane, with an estimated 10,000 locked outside. A number of attendances were over 30,000 and 40,000, and, in 1949.50, with an average of over 34,000, Notts gained promotion to the Second Division. 

DID YOU KNOW? 47,000 turned up for the 1955 fixture with York City – a record Meadow Lane crowd.

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The passing of then club captain Leon Leuty sparked the rapid break-up of the side that had transformed Notts from an unfashionable lower-league outfit into a steady Second Division club. Just two seasons after his death - 1957.58 - Notts suffered relegation to the Third Division and again into the basement tier in 1958.59.

Despite a quick return to the Third Division, following a second-placed finish in 1959.60, it was not long before Notts were back in the Fourth Division. Between 1963.64 and 1970.71, Notts fought it out in the doldrums of the Football League and, on 21 September 1968, the club slumped to its lowest point at the bottom of the table, but luckily found form and moved clear.

It was tough times but, when the most successful manager in the club’s history walked through the Meadow Lane gates, fortunes took a turn for the better. Jimmy Sirrel took over with the aim of lifting the doom and gloom – and he did just that by guiding the Magpies to the Fourth Division championship in his first full season in charge. 

Sirrel’s players became legends, such as the club’s all-time leading scorer Les Bradd, central defensive colossuses Dave Needham and Brian Stubbs, who experienced a solid eight-year partnership, and, of course, the Scottish midfield maestro Don Masson – deemed the greatest player to ever pull on the Black and White Stripes. Not forgetting the likes of Tony Hateley, Kevin Randall and Arthur Mann, who made up the spine of a team that would eventually complete Sirrel’s complete set of promotions from the gutter to English football’s elite division. 

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The next promotion arrived in 1972.73, as Notts finished Third Division runners-up, which preceded an eight-year stay in the Second Division. So many promotions had usually been followed by relegation but not on this occasion, as Sirrel – helped by innovative coach Howard Wilkinson - led Notts to the First Division via a historic victory over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. 

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DID YOU KNOW? Sirrel left Meadow Lane to take charge of Sheffield United during Notts’ extended stay in the Second Division. He designed the Blades’ logo, which remains in place to this day.  

Against the odds, Notts spent three consecutive seasons in the top-flight, which were kicked off with a historic 1-0 triumph over champions Aston Villa on the opening day of the 1981.82 season. This proved to be just one of many unforgettable days for the fans of this era, as the Magpies recorded emphatic wins over Arsenal, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United.

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The club’s First Division status also attracted international players to Meadow Lane, including Rachid Harkouk (Algeria), John Chiedozie (Nigeria) and Aki Lahtinen (Finland). With their help, a 15th placed finish was achieved at the end of Notts’ first year back in the top flight, after a 56-year absence.

Sirrel handed over managerial reigns to his number two Wilkinson in 1982 and 15th place was achieved for the second campaign on the spin. However, Wilkinson departed for Sheffield Wednesday and back-to-back relegations followed, though Sirrel did return to put a halt to the free-fall and the Magpies settled in the third tier… for the time being. 

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Off the pitch, Notts faced a battle to stay afloat and a crisis meeting on 15 September 1986 drew 1,500 supporters to the Astoria Night Club, with many more locked outside. Debts of £2million had forced directors to consider liquidating the club but it was agreed that business would resume thanks to the financial support of the fans. 

This came in the shape of a friendly match with Forest, where a crowd of 3,299 added £14,000 to the survival funds, and the formation Notts County Lifeline, which involved supporters paying £2 each week to enter into a prize draw. Since that meeting, the scheme has gone from strength-to-strength and has continued to pump over £100,000 into the club every year. 

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DID YOU KNOW? Since its formation, Lifeline has contributed nearly £3million to the club, made possible by supporters’ membership fees. 

That historic night at the Astoria also triggered the beginning of a new chapter – the arrival of Derek Pavis, a local businessman, who had been inspired by the passion of the fans to take over from Jack Dunnett as chairman, with John Mounteney becoming vice-chairman alongside him. Mounteney had history with the club and largely responsible for persuading Pavis to join Notts. 

The re-building began straight away with new blood injected into the club, as the likes of Geoff Pike, Paul Hart, Gary Lund and Gary Mills arrived. Famous faces such as Andy Gray and Gary Birtles were also added to the ranks but Notts missed out on a return to the Second Division in 1987.88 after suffering defeat to Walsall in the Play-Offs.  

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Notts’ true revival came from an unlikely source in 1989, when, following a run of poor results, boss John Barnwell was dismissed and replaced by the youthful figure of Neil Warnock, who had guided Scarborough into the Football League as champions of the Conference. The signings of goalkeeper Steve Cherry and skipper Phil Turner boosted the squad and, in Warnock’s first full season, 1989.90, the club achieved a third-placed finish and a spot in the Play-Offs.

Unlike two years prior, Notts flourished in the end-of-season knock-out and overcame Bolton Wanderers over two legs – a 1-1 draw on away soil and a 2-0 win back at Meadow Lane. This kicked off the Wembley Years and, on an unforgettable day under the Twin Towers, the Magpies overcame Tranmere Rovers in front of 29,252 spectators thanks to goals from Tommy Johnson and Craig Short.

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DID YOU KNOW? The Wheelbarrow Song accompanied the Magpies to Wembley in 1990, sang to the tune of On Top of Old Smokey. The unique chant is believed to have originated from a midweek trip away at Shrewsbury Town, where the team trailed by two goals. The Salop support sang a song in celebration, which, to the County fans at least, sounded like ‘I had a wheelbarrow, the wheel fell off…’ In jest, the away support belted out the song and Notts hit back twice in the last 10 minutes to draw the game. Seen as good luck, the Magpies faithful sang the song as Notts secured back-to-back promotions. 

Notts did not have to wait long for a second trip to Wembley, as, despite expecting a season of consolidation in the Second Division, a fourth-placed finish was recorded – largely thanks to a run of seven straight wins towards the end of the campaign. The momentum carried into the Play-Offs and the Magpies booked another trip to London with a Semi-Final triumph over Middleborough – courtesy of a 1-0 home win and a 1-1 draw on the road. 

59,940 witnessed Notts make history with a 3-1 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion, made possible by a Tommy Johnson brace and another finish from Dave Regis. Another unbelievable promotion was confirmed and the club was back in the big time. 

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Away from the league success, Notts reached the Quarter Final of the FA Cup thanks to a famous 1-0 win against Manchester City – a day where Cherry performed heroics in goal and Gary Lund secured his side’s progression with a solitary strike. This set up a controversial encounter with Tottenham Hotspur that saw Don O’Riordan score a wonder goal in front of the packed out away end at White Hart Lane, before Paul Gascoigne, who should have been dismissed due to an elbow on Paul Harding, set up the equaliser and scored an 83rd minute winner to end the Magpies’ hopes of a second FA Cup crown. 

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Warnock kept the faith in a large part of the squad that gained promotion, but Notts’ stay in the top tier was short-lived and lasted only one campaign, as the club finished the season ranked 21st. The relegation meant that the club missed out becoming an inaugural member of the Premier League.

Regardless of the drop to the newly named Football League Division One, the Magpies’ season in the top flight was eventful and provided trips to the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. The club also cashed in on strikers Paul Rideout – sold to Rangers for £500,000 just four months after he was signed from Everton for half that amount – and Johnson, who raked in almost £2million, which was pumped into the £5million redevelopment of Meadow Lane. 

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DID YOU KNOW? A hefty proportion of the money raised from the sales was used to recruit Tony Agana from Sheffield United for a club record fee. The striker netted just one goal in 13 top-flight appearances. 

Without their goals, Notts were unable to remain in the top division. However, due to increased wages that came hand-in-hand with top-tier football, the funds were essential in keeping the club afloat as attendances averaged at just 10,987 - including big crowds against Nottingham Forest (21,044) and Manchester United (21,055). 

Warnock’s tenure at Meadow Lane came to an end in January 1993, when, along with assistant Mick Jones, he was dismissed, as the club looked to stave off another relegation.  The duo celebrated their achievements and went down in history as club legends.  

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Warnock was succeeded by Mick Walker, who kept Notts in Division One and introduced a passing style of play to the appreciation of the supporters. The following year, the Magpies narrowly missed out on the Play-Offs with a seventh-placed finish but the season is most fondly remembered for the 2-1 triumph over local rivals Nottingham Forest, when Charlie Palmer scored the winning goal with just four minutes remaining on the clock. 

DID YOU KNOW? Since the dramatic win against Forest, 12 February has since been known as Charlie Palmer Day, where Notts fans remind their local rivals of the late winner at Meadow Lane. And why not? 

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Away from the league, Notts visited their home away from home, Wembley, for a third time in five years, after the team booked a place in the Anglo-Italian Cup Final. On this occasion, the Magpies were beaten 1-0 by Brescia - Gabrielle Ambrosetti, a future Chelsea player, the scorer - but there was another opportunity for silverware on the horizon… 

In March 1995, Notts were back at Wembley again for a second Anglo-Italian Cup Final, this time during Howard Kendall’s brief spell in charge. On this occasion, the trophy was brought home to Nottingham, as goals from Devon White and Agana secured a 2-1 victory over Ascoli. 

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Along with a 3-0 triumph over Tottenham Hotspur in the Third Round of the League Cup, this proved to be the highlight of a disappointing season. Notts were relegated to Division Two and the management casualties piled up, with Walker, Russell Slade and Kendall all dismissed in quick succession.  

Things looked up in 1995.96 under Colin Murphy and Steve Thompson, when they began a rebuilding process that resulted in Notts ending the campaign in fourth, before reaching the Division Two Play-Off Final. Hopes of a Division One return were dashed by a disappointing 2-0 loss at the hands of Bradford City – ending the impressive run of Wembley visits.

The hangover from the loss was clear and Notts dropped into the basement division in 1996.97. Even the arrival of Sam Allardyce could not prevent the club from ending the campaign bottom of Division Two but Pavis kept faith in the manager, despite a run of 20 matches without a win. 

Allardyce had the players in for regular sessions over the summer break in an attempt to halt the Notts’ freefall and the hard work paid off - massively. 1997.98 was a remarkable and unique season in the club’s history, as the Magpies smashed a number of national and club records to clinch the Division Three championship. 

Notts became the first club to pass the 4,000 league games landmark and clinched a league championship at the earliest ever date (28 March) by the largest number of points (19). With Allardyce at the helm and the likes of Darren Ward, Gary Jones, Sean Farrell, Mark Robson, Ian Richardson and Steve Finnan, among others, populating the squad, things were really looking up.

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By October 1999, Allardyce had guided Notts to the top of Division Two but, out of the blue, he resigned to take up a post at Bolton Wanderers. Without ‘Big Sam’, the Magpies slipped to an eighth-placed finish and rockier times were on the way - both on and off the pitch. 

DID YOU KNOW? Allardyce’s reign was great for the Meadow Lane coffers, as well as matters on the pitch. The club cashed in on promising talent, with Jermaine Pennant departing for Arsenal a record trainee fee of £2million and Shaun Derry to Sheffield United for £700,000. 

In 2001.02, Notts were nailed on for another relegation but, with just 11 games remaining, something incredible began – The Great Escape – a campaign driven by the iconic Steve McQueen film that included posters, music and the full backing of the County faithful. Kicked off by a 1-1 draw at home to Colchester United, the Magpies accumulated an astonishing 23 points from a possible 33 and clinched safety on the final day in front of a 15,618 home crowd.

Danny Allsopp played a massive role in getting the club to the 50-point mark with 12 goals in the conclusive run-in, including the opener in the decisive 2-1 victory over Huddersfield Town, which saw Kevin Nicholson net the winning goal in full view of the Jimmy Sirrel Stand Z-Block. Emotions spilled over onto the pitch after the impossible was confirmed but this magic moment was one of very few highlights in the coming years… 

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In November 2000, a sale agreement had been made between DCP Holdings Ltd – a company owned by Pavis and his wife, Vivien - and Notts Holdings Ltd, ultimately possessed by American businessman Albert Scardino. The agreed balances due were not paid and the consequences were severe, as the club was placed into administration in June 2002 with debts of around £6million – partially built up by inflated player wages in a gamble to gain promotion, which failed to arrive. 

After a failed takeover by two-man partnership Raj Bhatia and Frank Strang, the club’s future looked “bleak” and “devastating” in the words of administrator Paul Finnity. However, everyone associated with the club pulled together to complete the bigger ‘Great Escape’ that ended 18 months in administration on 3 December 2003. 

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At the 11th hour rescue plan was led by club director Peter Joyce, who was joined by former Leicester City director Roy Parker and former Notts vice-chairman John Mounteney, which added to £250,000 raised by fans in the form of the Supporters’ Trust. The battle to save the World’s Oldest Football Club was given a huge boost when an anonymous figure invested millions of his own money and bought the lease on the stadium, which, in the end, saved the club from extinction and allowed the Blenheim Consortium to purchase the club’s business and assets for £2.7million. 

The investor was later revealed as lifelong supporter Haydn Green, who had realised that the only way the club was going to survive would be with his help. Green’s shares were later added to others already held by the Trust, meaning the supporters body gained a majority shareholding of 60 per cent and held the largest proportion of seats on the board. 

DID YOU KNOW? Haydn Green sadly passed away in 2007, aged 60. As a tribute to the man that saved the club from the brink of disappearance, the Family Stand was renamed ‘The Haydn Green Family Stand’. 

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Troubles off the pitch took their toll on the field and Notts were relegated to the bottom tier, League 2, in 2004. Aside from securing the club’s future, the season’s highlight was the League Cup clash with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge – an encounter between Roman Abramovich’s millionaires and the penniless Magpies. 

A big turnover in players followed, as Gary Mills attempted to bring the good times back to Meadow Lane, though Notts fought it out at the bottom end of the table and Ian Richardson took over as player-manager to guide the club to safety. More difficult times followed under Gudjon Thordarson in 2005.06, when Notts came within a whisker of dropping out of the Football League, only to stay up on the final day thanks to a 2-2 draw with Bury, where the Magpies came back from two goals down through Dan Martin and Julian Baudet strikes to spark mass celebrations between both relegation threatened sides.  

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After Thordarson’s unexpected exit, former manager Steve Thompson, again, reshaped the Notts squad at short notice and produced much-improved results on the pitch in 2006.07 with a mid-table finish. The following year, the Magpies were unable to improve upon the previous campaign and instead flirted with relegation out of the Football League once more.

Ex-terrace hero Ian McParland was instilled as manager in October 2007 and Notts avoided relegation on the penultimate game of the season thanks to a tense 1-0 victory over Wycombe Wanderers, courtesy of Richard Butcher’s 12th and most important goal of the season. A late surge for safety was helped by the home fans’ takeover of the Kop Stand, which produced a louder backing to spur on the players.  

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Off the pitch, the club was moving in the right direction and this was highlighted by the return of the club’s Academy in 2008. The previous youth set-up, which had produced the likes of Tommy Johnson, Mark Draper, Michael Johnson and Craig Short had been controversially shut down as a cost-cutting exercise two years prior. 

In the summer of 2009, Notts moved into a new and exciting era when it was revealed that an ambitious consortium wanted to gain control and invest significant – ridiculous some might say - sums of cash into the club. A media circus unraveled at Meadow Lane, after the Supporters’ Trust voted overwhelmingly to gift their shares to Munto Finance.

Peter Trembling became executive chairman with immediate effect and, less than two weeks later, the arrival of former England and Mexico manager Sven-Goran Eriksson as director of football had Notts fans pinching themselves. More big names followed, with the addition of Kasper Schmeichel, son of Manchester United legend Peter, and, former Arsenal and England international Sol Campbell, all eyes were on the Magpies. 

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DID YOU KNOW? Although Sol Campbell signed a five-year deal with the club, he played just one game – a 2-1 defeat away at Morecambe. 

With Munto’s supposed financial backing and promises of the Premier League openly declared, McParland was able to assemble a strong squad, with more top players including Ben Davies and Lee Hughes added to the ranks. However, off-field matters soon took centre stage, as bills went unpaid and Campbell quickly headed for the exit.

Hans Backe took over from McParland but soon walked away as a result of unfulfilled promises, leaving ever-present assistant Dave Kevan in charge. The funds were not forthcoming and it soon became clear that things were too good to be true… 

Trembling led a management buyout but the debts were in their millions due to the extravagant spending. It was deeply worrying times for everyone involved with the club but another takeover was in the works… 

A consortium led by Ray Trew purchased the club for £1 and took on the overwhelming debts of the previous regime to ultimately save The World’s Oldest Football League Club. Rumours of administration circled but the decision was made to tackle the money owed head on and Notts, after so many years of uncertainty, had some stability. 

DID YOU KNOW? As part of the takeover, the club’s logo was revamped. The purple Munto design was swiftly amended to a more traditional badge in Ray Trew’s first full season as owner.  

A return to a sensible business approach was welcomed by the County faithful, as was the appointment of new manager Steve Cotterill. Cotterill’s message to the players was “we’re going to win the league”… Nobody argued, despite being 14 points adrift of the league leaders at the time. 

Under the new gaffer, Notts embarked on an incredible run to make up significant ground and confirmed promotion with a 4-1 win over Morcambe in front of 8,500 supporters at Meadow Lane. Even more rewarding was the 1-0 triumph over championship rivals Rochdale, who were beaten by a solitary Hughes finish, which put one hand on the League 2 title. 

The job was complete just a week later on an unforgettable night in Darlington, as Notts ran away as 5-0 winners and crowned champions to set up a joyous day back in Nottingham, where 11,331 witnessed the Magpies lift the trophy. It was a rollercoaster journey but one that no Notts fan will ever forget. 

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DID YOU KNOW? With all the attention on the League 2 championship win, fans would be forgiven if they forgot about the club’s terrific FA Cup run that season. Notts claimed a 2-2 draw with Premier League Wigan Athletic at Meadow Lane before claiming an unexpected 2-0 win at the DW Stadium. The victory booked the club’s place in the Fifth Round of the tournament for the first time since 1992, where the Magpies were beaten 4-0 by Fulham at Craven Cottage.
Based on the club’s history, it would be safe to say that there is rarely a quiet moment and there were no surprises when this remained the case beyond the whole Munto façade. Cotterill departed at the end of the championship campaign and Notts’ first season in League 1 saw the revolving door pick up speed. 

DID YOU KNOW? In 2010, the club celebrated 100 years at Meadow Lane in style with a 4-0 thumping of Yeovil Town. A special edition kit was worn on the day.   

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Craig Short, who, as a player, had been sold for a club record fee of £2.5million to Derby County, took up the manager’s post ahead of the 2010.11 campaign, but was dismissed in October 2010 and replaced by Paul Ince. The former England midfielder and Blackburn Rovers boss got off to a great start and particularly excelled in the FA Cup, with Notts fans treated to a run that included an big upset over Premier League Sunderland and a 1-1 home draw against giants Manchester City. 

DID YOU KNOW? The 16,587 attendance for the Meadow Lane encounter between Notts and Manchester City produced record gate receipts of £277,781.25. The previous record had also been an FA Cup encounter with the Blues back in 1991, which raked in £124,539. 

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Into the New Year, Notts’ fortunes took a bad turn and seven losses in eight games made relegation a serious possibility. A swift change behind the scenes resulted in Martin Allen lifting the club on and off the field with his unique personality and the Magpies avoided the drop on the final day of the season with a 1-1 draw against Brighton & Hove Albion, who had already been crowned League 1 champions

In 2011.12, Notts were invited to take on Juventus in a friendly fixture that marked the opening of the Italian giants’ new stadium in Turin. A historic trip, Notts had been expected to make up the numbers but it was not the case as Lee Hughes struck late on to earn a 1-1 draw in front of a passionate Juventus Stadium crowd and millions watching live on ESPN.

DID YOU KNOW? In 1899, Juventus played in pink shirts but continual washing faded the colour so much that, in 1903, they sought to replace them. The club asked one of their team members, Englishman John Savage, if he had any contacts in England who could supply new shirts in a colour that would better withstand the elements. By coincidence, his friend back home lived in Nottingham, and being a Notts supporter, shipped out the black and white striped shirts to Turin. Juve have worn the shirts ever since, considering the colours to be aggressive and powerful.

The campaign brought more changes to the Notts backroom staff, as Allen and his coaching team were relieved on their duties and replaced by Keith Curle, but, despite initial unrest at the decision, the appointment sparked an incredible run that saw the Magpies climb the League 1 table with 10 wins and three draws in the remaining 16 games, including a dramatic 4-3 thriller away at Wycombe, which had seen the Magpies behind in the dying stages, before two late goals took the Play-Off race to the final day. Still, another win against Colchester United was not enough to secure a top-six finish and the club missed out on the Play-Offs on goal difference. 

2012 marked Notts County Football Club’s 150th anniversary and the milestone was celebrated with a variety of events. Initiated by a Civic Reception, the event welcomed former chairman and now honorary president of the League Lord Mawhinney, Sir David Bernstein, and a host of club legends and personalities. 

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The club’s history was further celebrated with a special edition kit launch, the introduction of a celebratory beer and collectors-edition stamp set, Pie-Eyed 150, a pre-season fixture with Gibraltar, a Race Day, Golf Day, Community Day, Legends Day, a theatre adaptation of David McVay's book, 'Diary of a Football Nobody', and the inaugural Hall of Fame night. Most notable of all the events was the exceptional, blue riband Gala Banquet, hosted by BBC presenter Colin Murray.

The Gala Banquet was the pinnacle of the year-long celebrations, as a tent was erected on the Meadow Lane pitch to host a party that paid tribute to the eventful story of The World’s Oldest Football League Club. Guest speeches, a live performance by rock-opera group Elysium III, a feature-length movie that reflected on the club’s history and a firework display marked the occasion in style. 

DID YOU KNOW? The fixture with Gibraltar rolled back the years, as the Magpies regularly faced the national team in pre-season during Jimmy Sirrel’s time in charge.  

So many times, we have faced obstacles.
So many times, we have overcome.
Through the good times, we have laughed together,
Through the good times, we have cried together.
Through the tough times, we have fought together,
Through the tough times, we have survived together.
What has not killed us, has only made us stronger,
150 years on and still standing tall.

With the high hopes that stemmed from the season prior, Notts added further quality to the squad but languished in mid-table. Curle was removed from his position and development squad coach Chris Kiwomya was promoted to first team duties.

A poor opening to the 2013.14 campaign saw Kiwomya leave the club by mutual consent in November 2013. His replacement, Shaun Derry, along with his assistant Greg Abbott, was tasked with steering the Magpies to League 1 safety. 

With just nine games remaining, Notts appeared certain for the drop as the team was nine points adrift of safety and had played more games than the other club's fighting against relegation. Still, six wins and a draw in the final run-in saw the Magpies secure safety thanks to an emotional 1-1 draw with Oldham Athletic, which guaranteed the club's place in League 1 for the 2014.15 campaign. 

The hugely impressive run was labelled The Great Escape - again - and really pulled the club together at what had been a difficult time. Posters and the iconic theme song will certainly remain with the fans that played such a big part in the turnaround forever. 

DID YOU KNOW? The Great Escape 2 mirrored the original achievement in 2001.02. In both instances, Notts had just 28 points from 36 games but went on to finish above the drop zone with a total of 50. 

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