The delight had by numbers of Notts County fans after beating Middlesbrough in the ‘Carling Cup', was such that manager Steve Thompson was hailed a hero. The players were the best bunch at the club for an age, Notts could take on anyone in the next round, and the league would be a certain success.
Whilst that is a little biased optimism, as a result of getting just a little bit carried away, the result and indeed performance at the Riverside suggested that the Notts fans did actually have a side to be proud of. A side to boast about, finally, after years of desperate scrapes towards the lower end of the English leagues.
Notts' record in this Mickey Mouse trophy is abysmal. It represents the only real chance of silverware, though the ‘Playoff shield' may be a possibility this year, yet usually Notts exit in the very first round. For the record, it has been five years since Notts last passed the opening phase, and the furthest they have ever been in the trophy, no matter which sponsor has held the title, was in the 01/02 campaign, reaching the third round.
Yet still a respectable amount of fans turned up to watch this season's opener at home to struggling League 2 rivals, Barnet. Notts had a backing of around 1,200, and one supporter was aghast at the display that unfolded, telling me after, “It was awful. Nowhere near a tenners worth of action there, and I had to wait 45 minutes for a bus home. Wish I hadn't of bothered. I think the bubble has burst. It was like watching paint dry.”
Last night Notts were defeated 1-0. It should have been more for the visitors, who bought a respectable 80 fans. Respectable because it was a dull Tuesday night, a decent journey to make, and an awful, unimportant competition. If anything it is a hindrance to sides, who will make little money from it unless they win it. Indeed, rumours suggest that unless progression to at least the Quarter-Finals is made, a loss in finances occurs. Yet still teams refuse to take it seriously.
The one positive, other than winning it after a great day out at the Millennium Stadium, ask current holders Swansea City, is that a number of reserve or youth players get the chance to showcase their talents in a competitive nature. However, the fools who propose the competition have also knocked that rule into touch, pushing through a rule to make all teams field at least 6 first team regulars! If that doesn't harm the ever more important league form, nothing will.
The merits of the competition then, have gone out of the window. As my anonymous quotee suggests, rather than watching a Johnstone's Paint Trophy game, you might as well just bleeding buy a tin of paint, and sit there, a few beers to hand, and stare at that, such was the entertainment and passion value last night.