Making my way last Saturday to Meadow Lane, I wasn’t very confident and the majority of fans who know me will know I am always usually somewhat quietly confident. It was a big day, a group of Notts fans (including my lad and myself) had offered to help the Jimmy & Jack Statue Fund, and it was the day I was expecting relegation to be confirmed.
The atmosphere around the ground, it felt different. I don’t know if this had anything to do with the aspect of playing in a local derby or the fact I was enjoying spending quality time with my lad, doing something we will be proud of in future years.
I just knew that something ‘special’ was in the air; I could sense this by how the fans approached the ground with optimism.
Match Days are commonly busy alone, however when a friend of mine who assists me with recording a popular fan feature called ‘Meet the Fans’ arrived, I realize that I was the only fan openly sceptical about the game and it made me wonder.
I mean, if my lad says we’ll win 2-1 and Liam Noble will score! How could I say anything different?
Inside the kop stand, fans brought Meadow Lane to life and the chanting was very impressive. By far the most impact I have heard all season, survival isn’t just important for the reputation of the club but it’s important for us as a group of fans.
Whatever division Notts play in, I would be there. I mean the majority of my life we have been in the two basement leagues but I am lucky enough to have seen us within what is now known as the Championship and relegation would be a major step backwards for the majority of fans.
Early on I felt on edge, we looked comfortable going forward but Doncaster had three chances where they were extremely wasteful within their play, I felt a better side would have easily punished us but luckily we became more solid and before I knew it was 1-0 up. Again, the response from the crowd was very impressive!
It’s strange because by this time, I felt very confident. The football was free flowing, ended to end but importantly Notts was retaining the ball and attacking the opposition goal.
By time Liam Noble had scored his second, I wondered why I felt nervous and by this stage, news of other team’s scores was spreading around the stands. It wasn’t long after, fans actually started chanting about our survival and of course the popular ‘Great Escape’ tune.
It seemed that there wasn’t any ‘wheelbarrow’ moments to be expected, until Haydn Hollis fouled Nathan Tyson. I have to admit, I didn’t see the foul, however fans had already started discussing it and by the reactions it was a clear decision. My heart sank, the nerves again kicked in and in the back of my mind I was concerned about them pulling level.
Worry not, as the referee blew for full time I felt relieved and happy. In fact I felt proud that against all the odds, Notts had put together what was one of the best performances of the season – especially at home.
After the match had finished, my thoughts were firmly fixed on Gillingham and upon heading towards the ticket office, I realized that other fans had the same idea.
After Oldham last season, I know how important these games for survival can be and I hope the players of Notts County take a glimpse at our travelling fans before the game gets under way because I feel together we can push on.
I don’t expect the game to be one way or easy football, in fact I am expecting to be enjoyable but heart in mouth type of situation.
My hopes for next season is for us to avoid this type of ending, to see the passion, stability shown within the play and for us to come back much brighter and stronger. Relegation wouldn’t be the end of the world, it’s a part of football to be expected but I would love for people of Nottingham to feel proud to have two football clubs which are pushing upwards – not just one.