Meadow Lane - Notts County
Saturday, January 19th, 2008, 3pm
v Chester City, League Two
By Jon Kelly

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

As a Plymouth Argyle fan based in Manchester, I quite often go to odd games in the North when Argyle are at home and I can't get there. My original plan was to go to Carlisle, but unfortunately having consumed a pint or five too many the night before I woke up far too late to get to the Scottish border.  A quick scan of the fixture list later and I decided on a first visit to Meadow Lane, the home of Notts County.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I got the train from Piccadilly station direct to Nottingham and found the ground well signposted from the station.  I wandered around the outside of the ground and then across the bridge over the river and had a mooch around the outside of Forest's ground, which is close by (a great source of irritation for County fans I'm sure).

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

I didn't have time to do anything particularly exciting in Nottingham beforehand so I went straight into the ground..  I plumped for the Jimmy Sirrell stand on one side of the pitch, and along with a few other fans watched the end of the Sheffield derby which was being shown on the TVs on the concourse. 

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Meadow Lane is a beautiful football ground. The Jimmy Sirrell stand is a good-sized, modern all-seated affair, with a spacious concourse underneath.  Opposite was a similarly sized and equally handsome stand. To my left was the smallish home end, which had a few supporting pillars across, and a scoreboard on the roof; and to my right was the large Kop End, which surprisingly is the away end. 

I suppose the stand on the river end of the ground is the traditional home end; certainly the Kop looks to be the better stand.  There were only a hundred or so Chester fans scattered around the stand and they looked rather lost. I was somewhat surprised to find that from my seat in the stand the Trent End of the City Ground is clearly visible - this must be unique in English football for one ground to be viewable from another.  Possibly is Anfield visible from the top tier of the Pavilion at Goodison Park?  Even so, it's highly unusual.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

Both sides were struggling going into the game and it showed; both looked scared to lose rather than taking a chance and going for the win.  After a cagey first half I decided to stay in my seat instead of shelling out god knows what for a warm bottle of lager, and during half time about half a dozen kids' matches were played on the pitch.  At one point an eight year old boy scored a magnificent goal from miles out in the game in front of me, and everyone who saw it started a chorus of 'sign him up'!  Fantastic. 

The second half wasn't much better - Notts did eventually score, but it really was a dog of a game.  The atmosphere was pretty good, seeing as the ground was only a quarter full, but I think it suffered from a lack of away fans.  It would be interesting to see what it's like in a derby game.  The fans around me were passionate and knowledgeable; I was sitting next to a man who went to university in Plymouth and followed Argyle as his second team so we had a good chat about that.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

After the game I wandered back to the station - looking in on the Hooters restaurant, purely for research purposes you understand - before getting the train back to Manchester.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A contender for best ground in League 2 - in my opinion bettered only by Bradford City's Valley Parade.  Bags of character, good size - if only they could find eleven players worthy of it.



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