The Most Important Game In Recent History?

By Paul Smith
Last updated : 06 November 2006

POM: When we beat Wycombe, we will be in the last 8 of a major competition for the first time since the 91 FA cup run, I would not swap that.”

Words of wisdom from regular NCM Messageboard poster, POM.

On Tuesday night, eleven Magpies will take to the field, albeit against familiar opposition, carrying the hopes of thousands of fans on their shoulders. Those fans will be anticipating a victory over League 2 rivals Wycombe. A win could see them line up against Premiership opposition, Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham Hotspurs. All could await Steve Thompson's men, as Notts search for a Semi-Final place.

Somner... V Rooney?
The money that would follow would invariably help Thompson strengthen a squad that is already pushing for promotion. Glamour, if Notts were to make the next stage they would surely make television coverage, would arrive for the first time in a long time. The excitement. Imagine Wayne Rooney or Theo Walcott at Meadow Lane? It's quite remarkable… Notts being in the last eight of a competition that stretches over 92 clubs. But it could happen.

And that begs the question. Do the above points make it the biggest match in Notts' history? That would be going too far. Notts have appeared in Fa Cup finals, Playoff finals, high intensity local derbies, top flight games. They are surely bigger. But in recent times…

Every Notts fan will remember the maligned time of Administration. Liquidation of the football club reportedly came to within an hour. That made a clash with Luton Town in September 2003 become possibly Notts' last ever game. In front of a crowd of over 8,000, Tony Barras' wonder goal saw it finish 1-1. Luckily, as it transpired, it wasn't Notts' final game, but there have been bigger games.

That very season Notts were struggling at the wrong end of what is now League 1. With Billy Dearden at the helm, Notts pulled off a remarkable winning streak at the back end of the season. That streak saw them pull back a likely relegation, and go into the final game of the season needing a win to ensure a ‘Great Escape'. That game, against Huddersfield Town, saw 17,000 fans flock to Meadow Lane, easily the best attendance of the decade. Notts didn't disappoint, and pulled off a 2-1 victory. But there has been bigger relegation battles…

Rooney... V Somner?

May of this year saw Notts play another final league game at the Lane, needing points to ensure League 2 survival. A defeat against Bury may have sent the Magpies down, but other results also saved us. Not that the fans knew that with five minutes to go and Notts 2-0 down. Non-league became a sudden reality, and with it possible exodus from football for Notts. Dan Martin and Julien Baudet belatedly rescued Gudjon Thordarson's team. Survival was just secured.

But is the Wycombe game bigger than them three? Certainly it's bigger than the Luton encounter. Also, as Notts were relegated just a year later, the Huddersfield game seems a pointless occasion. Last season, even had Notts lost, relegation still wouldn't have occurred. So yes, with the financial gain, the excitement and tension, and the realism of seeing world-class players against the likes of Matt Somner and Jason Lee, which may happen should Notts progress, POM could be right.

This could be the most important game in recent history.

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