I’m refreshed and revitalized after a four day break in Austria. My sister-in-law got married out there. It has a population of over eight million people, and its most famous includes: Mozart, Strauss, Franz Klammer, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the most despicable and evil man ever to have set foot on this planet, no, not Crawley Town’s manager Steve Evans, but of course Adolf Hitler
They don’t talk about Adolf much up in the Tyrol mountains, but I couldn’t help but laugh, whilst supping a fine litre of German beer up the mountain last week, when an Austrian woman, who had lost her child, was screaming at the top of her voice “Adolf Adolf.” No wonder the poor little bugger scarpered off.
I was going to sit in the away end today; I’m still cross that they closed the Notts County Centre of Excellence a few years ago. This club broke 120 young hearts; and showed little remorse. But The Angler is on board today, and he is a Pies fan and wants to sit in the main stand. He met his wife here 45 years ago. Sticky junior and “The Skipper” make a guest appearance.
I blagged a couple of freebies last season and saw County put in sterling performances against Lincoln and Walsall. Steve Thompson, in my opinion, was harshly sacked by the Pies. He was doing a decent job with limited resources and was forced to sell his best player in David Pipe, who is now having a successful time at Bristol Rovers.
I miss old Thommo’s razor sharp wit; we’re now stuck with two dour Scotsmen either side of the Trent. Notts appointed the management dream team of Ian McParland and David Kevan; the jury is still out. The air hangs heavy over Meadow Lane right now.
Talking of dream team, Mansfield Town’s prospective new owner the cranky John Batchelor is toying with idea of changing the Stags name to Harchester United after the fictional Sky TV programme. It’s certainly whipped up a storm of publicity for the North Notts club.
They too, have had an eventful period. This week former Stag, the talented Paul Holland, was named as manager of the club. During the week he also released five players. Little loyalty was shown to likeable Lancastrian Billy Dearden; he was shown the door a few weeks back, despite a cash bonanza cup run; only narrowly ended by Gareth Southgate’s Middlesbrough.
We park in County Hall and troop across Trent Bridge, passing the Cricket Club and City Ground. The clouds are low and there is a steady drizzle of rain. We pass the now derelict Casa Bar and walk past one of Mrs P’s favourite establishments: Topknot Hairdressers. We snake through Turner’s Key and over the canal and past another abandoned public house: The Trent Navigation.
I pay a whopping £32 at the gate, £20 for me and £12 for the kids. It’s a further £2.50 for an average programme.
We’re sat in “A” Block on the edge of the eighteen yard area. The state of the pitch is atrocious. It’s by far the worst I’ve seen this season, and I include Leicester City’s Walkers Stadium in that. They’ll be no doubt blaming the ground share with Nottingham Rugby Club, but let’s face it; we’ve not had a harsh winter. There’s more sand on this surface than Skegness beach.
I notice Big Pos junior in front of me; he’s supported Notts all his life. It’s almost an art form the way he devours his Pukka- Pie and peas. He makes White Van Man look an amateur.
There is, as Colin Slater would say “drama at the lane” before the game. Notts ‘keeper Russell Hoult falls awkwardly whilst warming up. He is carried off and looks a certain non-starter. As a precaution Notts call up rookie ‘keeper Tim Sandercombe to the bench.
It’s five minutes before kick-off, the atmosphere is fever pitch. Mansfield have almost filled the old Spion Kop end and the County Roadside are in good voice. My phone goes off, it’s Mrs P, she’s in Sainsbury’s at Castle Marina. Do I want Abbotts or Bombardier in cans or bottles? I’m just about to watch the biggest game of the season and she comes up with this little conundrum. Bottles of course.
The Stags are magnificent in the first half, they football Notts off the park. County can’t get anywhere near ex-Manchester City midfielder Jonathan D’Laryea and the Irishman Stephen Dawson. Nathan Arnold on the left and Matt Hamshaw on the right cause problems for Notts with their pace. Skipper Jake Buxton is resolute at the heart of the defence.
In the early stages Dominican Republic forward Jefferson Louis forces the now fit again Hoult into a good save from a deft header. He’s had a somewhat chequered career, including thirteen clubs, and is still only 29.
Michael Boulding’s pace and trickery causes difficulties for Mike Edwards. He cleverly plays in Nathan Arnold, whose crashing shot comes back off the woodwork.
County are dire, truly awful. Their full-backs are short on pace, and the visitors exploit this. Before the break both Louis and Boulding have shots saved by Hoult. Edwards and Michael Johnson work overtime to keep their side in the game.
I’ve been watching the work rate of loan forwards Danny Crow and Ryan Jarvis. I’ve seen more movement from Big Pos eating his Pukka-Pie. Looking at Crow’s waistline, it would seem he’s shifted a fair few pies in his time. Jarvis, the big Southern Jessie, even sports a pair of gloves.
Due to a crackling PA system and a malfunctioning microphone we are unable to grab any half-time scores. It’s a cracking impersonation of Norman Collier. This once mighty fine club is dying on its arse.
I’ve spotted Burton Albion’s manager Nigel Clough in the stand; it looks like he’s checking out next year’s opposition. The Brewers play a beautiful game of football at The Pirelli Stadium, on a surface you could play Subbueto on. God only knows what he makes of the Meadow Lane pitch.
The kids are moaning more than Charlie McParland, they want some chips. I refuse point blank, and tell them if they don’t start behaving I’ll bring them down Notts again next week!
The second half is a drab affair, although Notts do improve slightly. Mansfield are disheartened not to have been ahead at the break. McParland squeezes the midfield.
Jason Lee and Spencer Weir-Daley are warming up, last season they scored 24 goals in this league, and yet they cannot force their way into one of the worst Notts teams I‘ve seen in years.
Weir-Daley is unlucky to see a shot deflected away for a corner. Mansfield come flying forward in a last ditch attempt to grab the points. Ex-WBA winger Simon Brown floats a cross in from the left, which Stags’ winger Matt Hamshaw blasts over from eight yards out.
The referee finally blows for time (thank God.) I’ve shelled out over thirty pounds, to watch a load of overrated journeymen serve up utter tripe. Notts have kept four consecutive clean sheets and are inching their way to safety. But poor old Mansfield are down on their luck today and look doomed.
Arnie Schawrznegger might be back, but I for one, won’t be.
Pies 0 Stags 0
Man of the Match: Jonathan D’Laryea