Non-League, Cheap Pints, And Football Heritage: Why You Should Be Following Notts County

Exterior view of the Notts County stadium, with the club name written across the back of the stand
Jack Perceval

In my two years of being a student in Nottingham, I am ashamed to say that until recently I had never been to see either of Nottingham’s football teams play live. What a mistake that was! In my first experience of going to watch County, I was surprised and surprised again by just how much I had missed out on. From the matchday experience to the football they play, I think County have earned my support. 

Thanks to Impact Magazine, I had the opportunity to go to see Notts County play Southend United on a cold Tuesday night at Meadow Lane with another sports contributor. Travelling from Lenton, I was shocked at how easy it was to get there. A 15-minute walk from the Nottingham station is a nice distance, meaning you can get there in around 30 minutes from the Savoy Cinema.  

The first thing that struck me once I got to the stadium was the size of it; 20,000 capacity for a non-league club is unheard of! To put that into perspective, Bournemouth’s stadium has a capacity of 11,000 despite being in the Premier League. It’s fair to say that County are massive.  

A massive beer garden with a cinema-sized screen, and a lively pre-game buzz. What more can a fan ask for?

We decided to meet at the Trent Navigation Inn before going into the stadium, and despite the off-putting name it has nothing to with NTU. Thank god! And may I say, what a great supporters pub – round the corner from the stadium, a massive beer garden with a cinema-sized screen, and a lively pre-game buzz. What more can a fan ask for?  

After grabbing a couple of moderately priced pints, we headed into the stadium. Sitting in the Derek Pavis Stand with all of the County fans, it was actually the Southend fans who had made the journey up the M1 who made most of the noise at the beginning of the game. However, that ended quickly after Langstaff scored his 30th, 31st, and 32nd goals of the season.  

Regarding the game itself, County play such nice football. As a fan of new and unique styles of football, I was pleasantly surprised by how Luke Williams has this outfit playing. In my naivety, I always assumed that non-league football was kind of Burnley-like; hit and hope, lump the ball up top and hope for the best sort of thing. How wrong was I? Williams has these boys playing beautiful football; it genuinely wouldn’t look out of place in the Premier League.

Setting up in a 3-5-2, in possession they play in a 2-3-5 akin to how Guardiola has Manchester City playing. In speaking to regulars, I found out that teams playing County are faced with two choices; sit back and hope they don’t get picked apart or press high and try to not get exposed at the back. Either way, I don’t think it matters.  

The job was done for Langstaff who had been terrorising the opposition back line

There were spells where Southend employed both tactics and they were played off the park all game. After 65 minutes and a hat trick, the job was done for Langstaff who had been terrorising the opposition back line like a rainy day on Southend pier. The rest of the game was pretty pedestrian, with Southend looking like they knew their fate had already been written by Luke Williams and his baseball cap.  

From talking to fans after the game back at Trent Navigation, we had the state of the National League explained rather drunkenly by a few lovely fans. This season, it’s a two-horse race for the automatic promotion spot between County and Wrexham. And in case you thought they were exaggerating, which admittedly I did, the 7th place team (which is the last team who gets into the playoffs) at the time of writing is Eastleigh who are 33 points off the top. To put this into perspective, Arsenal (top of the Premier League at the time of writing) are 33 points ahead of 17th placed Bournemouth.  

Follow and support the oldest club in the world, created before the Football League was

Competing with the Hollywood-backed Wrexham, lowly Notts County are the oldest football club in the world. Wrexham have a TV show and are all over social media, but County represent footballing heritage. It is an incredible opportunity to be able to follow and support the oldest club in the world, created before the Football League was.  

The ever-present football club, who has fallen all the way from Division One in 1991 down to the National League, leaving the Football League for the first time in its history in 2019, heartbreakingly losing in the playoffs each year since then. Is this the year in which they make it back up?  

This spellbinding Football League season isn’t over yet, and you have the opportunity to take advantage of footballing history being made. And in case you needed any more incentive to follow the Magpies, home tickets cost just £15. I hope I see you down at Trent Navigation and, if I do, I expect a pint for putting you on. 

Jack Perceval

Featured image courtesy of Ian Kirke via Unsplash. Image use license found here. No changes were made to this image. 

In article image courtesy of @nottscountyfc via Instagram. No changes were made to this image.

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