Meadow Lane
Notts County v Carlisle United
League Two
Saturday, March 3rd, 2012, 3pm
By Dominic Bickerton

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

I was initially planning to go and watch my beloved Stoke City take on Norwich, but the game was sold out. I was a bit disappointed, so I thought I'd take to trip to a new ground to make up for it. Having had a little look at the fixture lists, I decided to get the train down to Nottingham and visit the home of the oldest football league team in the world. I was really excited for the game and to get another ground under my belt - the game was also very cheap because I'm 21, so just about qualify for the 16-21 concession price of £13. I take my hat off to the Club for this pricing scheme, which will hopefully encourage plenty of youngsters to go and watch their local team.

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

The journey was very simple and the ground is easy to find. I jumped on a train at Sheffield and took the 50 minute ride down to Nottingham (a return from Sheffield is £12). I arrived at Nottingham train station, then followed the walking directions given on this website and got to the ground after a brisk 10 minute walk.

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

I got the ground about half an hour before kick off, so I had a little wander around and took in the sights. From the outside the ground is quite attractive and has a fair bit of character. I also had a quick walk down to the the River Trent to have a little look at Forest's City ground, which is also a fairly nice looking stadium. However, I don't think many County fans would agree with me!

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

I got to my seat in the middle of the fairly large Kop End and was immediately impressed with the ground. The gable on top of the Jimmy Sirrel stand was a personal highlight for me and it gives the ground a lot of character.

The Kop obviously houses a big section of the home faithful, however, the rest of the ground was very empty. I don't quite understand why the away fans are housed in the Jimmy Sirrel stand, as it's very large and looked ridiculously empty. Surely it would make more sense to put away fans in the end opposite the Kop. Despite the somewhat bizarre seating arrangements the ground was still impressive and wouldn't look out of place in the Championship.

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

I was expecting a feisty affair, as both clubs were just below the play-off positions and desperate for a win to sneak into the top 6 for a chance of promotion. Sadly, the football was woeful - both teams were fairly poor and would both probably struggle in the Championship if they did manage to get promoted.

For the first 30 minutes Carlisle were marginally the better side and it was somewhat against the run of play when County went 1-0 up on 33 mins. The goal coming from a cross that the impressive Jonathan Forte was at the end of, putting in a lovely looping header over the Carlisle goalkeeper. Five minutes later County found themselves 2-0 up, Alan Sheehan curling in a beauty of a free kick that left the Carlisle 'keeper no chance. County ended the half 2-0 to the good. Early into the second half it was clear to see that the game was all but over and neither team looked like seriously testing the goalkeepers again.

Regardless of the poor football on show the Notts County fans were in good voice for most of the game, and there were plenty of loud renditions of the famous "I had a wheel barrow" song. However, the travelling Carlisle fans didn't really make much noise, but to be fair they didn't have much to cheer about.

It was a very family friendly atmosphere and it was probably the only game I've ever been to that I didn't hear anyone using very strong language (on the basis of this and the cheap ticket prices, I would recommended County as great place to take the kids for a day out.) I also had a great bit of banter going on with some of the fans sat around me - we got chatting and I told them about me being a Stoke fan doing the 92, this resulted in a few friendly digs about our respective teams whilst they shared their Werther's Originals with me and I kept them up to date with the other League One scores on my phone. A few even joined in my small celebration when Matty Etherington put Stoke 1-0 up in our game against Norwich!

Facilities-wise the Kop concourse was a bit cramped at half time as the food & drink bar is quite small (but serves a decent selection) and the concourse itself is very narrow. If you're really in need of half time sustenance, then you'll definitely have to go down to the bar a few minutes before half time. There are, however, plenty of toilets along the concourse, so there should be no problems in that department. As for the stewards, I didn't notice many and there didn't seem to be any trouble whatsoever.

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

After the final whistle, I said my farewells to the fellas I was sat with, wished them luck for the rest of their season and made for the exits. Leaving the ground was no problem at all and I was back onto the street behind the Kop in less than a minute. I arrived back at Nottingham train station within about 10 minutes and was on the way to Sheffield in no time.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Overall, I had a brilliant day out. The football wasn't the best, but the friendly locals more than made up for it (Stoke winning 1-0 also helped!). I would highly recommend Notts County as a great football day out and a bargain when you consider some of the daft ticket prices for some matches these days (Ticket and Travel cost me 25 quid). I had a really good time and wouldn't hesitate to go again.



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