Interview with Colin Slater (part one)

The BBC's Notts County correspondent Colin Slater has kindly agreed to answer some questions for Notts County Mad.

You can find the first section of a two-part interview below, where he looks back at some of his experiences over the years.

The best: Don Masson is the best player that Slater has seen in a Notts shirt...
The second part will follow in the near future so keep checking back to the website to read more about what Colin has to say on various matters.

Notts County Mad: Over the years, who has been the most gifted player, in your opinion, to wear the black and white stripes of Notts County?

Colin Slater: It's a question I'm often asked and is one of the easiest. For me, Don Masson stands head and shoulders above every other Notts player from 1959 to the present day - and there have been some good 'uns. Don's ability to pass the ball was second to none and his goal-scoring achievements must not be overlooked. Will anybody ever captain Notts to three promotions, from the Fourth tier to the First, as he did? Or win the Player of the Year award on three occasions? Those facts speak for themselves, really.

NCM: On the other hand, who would you say has been the best player to face the Magpies?

CS: In 1991-92, the last time Notts played at the top flight, there were a number of exceptional performances. On opening day Manchester United's flying right winger, Andrei Kanchelskis, ran poor Alan Paris ragged. Ahead of that, for me, was a commanding all-round display from midfield by Gary McAllister, who pulled all the strings - and scored one himself - when Leeds United won 4-2 at Meadow Lane.

NCM: From what you have witnessed over the past couple of seasons, which League Two player would you love to see at Meadow Lane?

CS: I don't believe for a moment it will happen but his scoring feats against Notts force me to say Peter Thorne, of Bradford City. He's a veteran now but he'll still need some watching when the teams meet at Meadow Lane in February.

NCM: Notts have won just twice away from home in 2008 and a lot of the performances within that run have been below-par. What would you say has been County's finest performance on opposition territory in your time?

CS: Two games vie for this position - both of them won by the Magpies! There was the 3-1 win at Ipswich in January, 1982 when Gordon Mair's opening goal, which took play the whole length of the field in a dazzling move, was and remains the best I've ever seen scored by Notts. Then there was the 1-0 win at mighty Leeds United in the League Cup in October, 1975, a great giant-killing feat that will never be forgotten, with Ian Scanlon's goal one highlight of many.

NCM: Who has been the best player to interview?

Quirky: Martin O'Neill was an unpredictable interviewee...

CS: We are fortunate now, and have been over the 40 years of local radio, to have a large number of players who acquit themselves well when faced with the mic. One of the best, and you will not be surprised by this, was Martin O'Neill, partly because of his quirky character - you never quite knew what kind of answer you would get. Martin was for a while my summariser on BBC Radio Nottingham and we remain good friends.

NCM: What is the funniest thing you have seen in a Notts game?

CS: When Manchester City, 3-0 down at half-time and needing the points for promotion, smashed down the Spion Kop barriers and caused a long hold-up. Jimmy Sirrel went on to the tannoy to tell the visiting fans to behave themselves or the referee would abandon the game - which is precisely what they wanted. It was a grim situation but I saw the funny side of it. The game was resumed - and Notts won 3-2.

NCM: What is your number one objective when reporting? Getting a good story or acting for the good of the club?

CS: The two things are not necessarily incompatible. Have there been better stories that the promotion to the old First Division in 1981, achieved with a win at Chelsea? Or the Wembley promotion wins in successive years in the early Nineties over Tranmere and Brighton? Those were great days and there have been others. Some of them have been off the field, like the incredible night when Lifeline was launched in 1986, which I hosted at the Sherwood Rooms. Another unforgettable night was the Supporters' Trust's dinner-auction at the Royal Hotel which enabled the Trust to reach its target of £250,000 and help to save the club. The saddest occasion was also one of the biggest-ever stories - the recent death of Jimmy Sirrel. It was a huge privilege to be asked by Jimmy's family to organise the funeral service and to give one of the tributes.

Co-commentator: Slater values the input from Yates...
NCM: How did you feel when the BBC issued you with a co-commentator?

CS: I fully accept and agree that it's now part of every broadcasting organisation's policy to support its commentators with a summariser. I've had a number of such colleagues over the years. I've already mentioned Martin O'Neill and more recently there was a time when Bobby Tait and Mick Vinter filled the role. Now my regular colleague is Dean Yates, with Ian Richardson and Les Bradd "on the bench" for when Dean is not available for any reason. I value the contribution they make and, of course, working together and - this particularly applies to Dean - travelling thousands of miles each season means you get to know each other much better as people and, in turn, that helps us to dovetail together on radio, seamlessly I hope.

NCM: What would you be doing if you hadn't been successful in becoming a journalist?

CS: I have no idea! It was my only ambition and I was fortunate to be given the chance. I've always acknowledged how vital it was for me to be offered the chance and, in turn, I've tried to give it to others when I've had opportunity.

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