It was Sir Alex Ferguson who once delighted in “the great Manchester United European nights”. The atmosphere, the excitement, the nerves, the anticipation and the outcome of those famous Old Trafford Wednesday evenings were quite extraordinary. Whilst Notts County will never match the calibre, the size of the crowd or the heights of Manchester United, Tuesday night's 2-0 success at home to Southampton can be marvelled at as “one of the great Notts nights”. It had everything, the atmosphere, the excitement, the nerves, the anticipation and the outcome was quite extraordinary…
Being at Lincoln University, I am proud of my record for making every Saturday home game in the last two years and some away. However, with a midweek game, it can be difficult, particularly with an hour and a half worth of shorthand to learn on a Tuesday night. Not to mention an early start on a Wednesday. But I couldn't miss this one, no matter the wrath of my shorthand tutor. I pushed out of it, helped some by the entourage that would follow me to Meadow Lane.
As NCM regulars will know, I have held a series of interviews with our manager, Mr. Steve Thompson, during the season, and he is a personal friend of my boss. How does he know my boss? He drinks in his local with him, as well as a dozen other regulars that combine to make one great drinking team. Think the late George Best and Rodney Marsh, and double it on a Friday night!
Well because ‘Thommo' is doing well at Notts, the regulars take a keen interest in our affairs, and they all jumped at the chance of getting down, from their Lincoln haunt, for a night in Nottingham, and a night at fortress Meadow Lane.
It was a pleasure to be joined in there by the company of some tasty barmaids, though a strong contingent of youngsters meant that the best half of the girls didn't make an appearance.
Not one to be put off, I picked up a 'Hooters' lycra top, for the missus, and set off to the bar for a pint. Lo and behold, the packed bar contained three Reds. Nicky Southall, Kris Commons and Ian Breckin, chirpishly downing a bottle or two, and a bowl of chips, were hustled into a corner, waitress continually on hand. (I have photographic evidence!)
They were soon joined by Grant Holt, James Perch and John Curtis… complete with lingering eyes to Hooter girls.
I am led to believe they went to the Notts game, but I was too hyped up to care by then.
We arrived at the game just as the players ran out. We took our place next to the Championship sides dugout, and awaited the arrival of our man Thompson.
Just before kick-off, Thompson walked out, straight over to us, and he told of his excitement. A quick “It's a great ground isn't it?”, helped probably by a bubbling atmosphere, (surely more than 6,700!), and his mind was focused.
We know how the game ebbed and flowed, Mike Edwards and Jason Lee grabbing the goals. The second came and Thompson jumped into us, he is clearly a man in love with the club, and Notts defended resolutely throughout the second half.
Pitch invasion, and Thompson tried to disappear, but his excitement was clear. A lad, no more than 12 years old, called him back onto the pitch, and the former Lincoln manager didn't disappoint, jumping in the celebrations.
We made our way back to ‘Hooters', still to find barmaids with tops on, whilst he shot off to his local, where we joined him soon after.
To say he had some bubbly, I mean he was bubbly, is an understatement, but one thing is for sure, that great Notts night will live long in the memory, if only I could remember it all…