A Notts County ‘Protest’

A Notts County ‘protest’. This is a football club that faces possible extinction in just four days time. A winding up order due to an HMRC debt of approximately £250,000 has been served and postponed twice in hearings. The coming Wednesday hearing could dictate prior administration or even possible liquidation on the day. No more football club.

The club’s Chairman and owner, Alan Hardy, has a litany of arrogant, reckless gambling on Notts’ future in order to feed his narcissism. His building interiors company is in receivership with 100 staff unceremoniously made redundant without payment due to money taken out of it to feed his football vanity project.

notts
Nott’s County’s playing and non-playing staff remain unpaid after reassurances of meeting this commitment by the owner.
He has seemingly, continually lied about the future of the football club by issuing false promises. He has additionally, embarrassed himself, his family and the club by accidentally exposing his genitals on a Twitter post. A short while ago he manifested his lack of humility by complaining endlessly and finally appealing against yet another speeding conviction – driving at fully 77mph in a 40mph zone. Apparently, Mr Hardy is the ‘busiest man in the world’ and the laws of the land do not apply to him.

He has not denied negotiations with a consortium of possible new club owners who have at the helm a convicted fraudster with a changed name who shamefully embezzled money out of pensioners and was sentenced to six years in prison.

Hardy has presided over the Nottingham club’s demise in being relegated from the Football League after a long 157 year history. Currently the team find themselves without enough players to adequately cover requirements and using last year’s kit as Puma state they have not received payment for a new one from the club. Today the team also find themselves in their first friendly fixture of the season away at Nuneaton Borough FC, needing to drive their own transport to the game due to no money being available for a team coach.

The image shows the extent of Notts County’s fans’ action in response to the near-complete demise of their club –just thirty fans protesting outside the Meadow Lane stadium. (Apparently, it was raining). Plenty do care though care and it’s those faithful and persevering souls I feel sorry for.

Advertisements

Notts County Depart The Football League

Yesterday saw the black and white side of the football divide in Nottingham depart the Football League after a disastrous season. On the final day of the season, Notts required all three points at Swindon Town with the Magpies’ relegation rivals Macclesfield needing to lose at home to Cambridge United. It was a difficult task but one that looked  for a short period into the second half of the games with Notts a goal to the good and Macclesfield trailing by a goal. ‘ It’s the hope that kills you’ as the saying goes though with matters coming to an ignominious end among tears of sorrow among the faithful at the final whistle.

Notts

(Pic: Nottingham Post)

It’s at least good to see that many true football fans can recognise the sadness in the situation of Notts County being relegated from the Football League yesterday. The ending of 130 consecutive years in the League, which they were a founding member of. Notts have been in existence for 157 long years.

Living here, I’ve taken the opportunity to attend Meadow Lane quite regularly this season (and Forest too) and observed this absolutely disastrous season unfold. Most would apportion much of the blame to Chairman, Alan Hardy, a local businessman who bought the club 30 months ago. An attention seeking, somewhat egotistical figure, he has in the past few months presided over not only the demise of Notts County but also his largest company, Paragon, leaving a redundant, unpaid workforce and a trail of creditors including many smaller sub-contractors.

Earlier this year he added to the circus by inadvertently posting a picture of his genitals in a Tweet. Yes, you did read that right, he left his phone’s camera roll on the image he posted. Prior to that he was prosecuted for speeding at 77mph in a 40mph area which he continually griped about in the media and arrogantly appealed against.

Sacking two managers earlier in the season, (the first one widely reported as being allegedly heavily on the sauce) he panicked and sanctioned the signing of several players in January for third Manager, Ardley. The problem is that around 80% of the Manager’s choices did not want to sign for the Magpies due to their perilous position and also because by now many agents refused to deal with Notts due to previous non-payment.

notts 2

Distraught Notts fans (Pic: Nottingham Post)

Neil Ardley has struggled with an almost impossible situation since his appointment in November. He’s shown himself to be a good, honourable and decent man though naturally has had much of the blame set on his shoulders. The club’s supporters have been magnificent in their support, turning up in average numbers of 7,300 at home, the third highest in the division.

I’m not a Notts or Forest supporter, I’m 100 per cent Hibs but I enjoy the local teams here doing well and creating a vibrant sporting culture in the city I live in. Notts County meant a great deal to my late mum’s brothers for many years. We know how this works in football, these are the ties that bind, through the generations. I myself was introduced to Nottingham football as a youngster by an uncle who who would kindly take me to both Meadow Lane and Forest’s City Ground on alternate Saturdays. A very varied experience with Notts at the foot of the Fourth Division playing in front of 3,000 fans and Forest challenging at the top of the First Division with regular attendance between 30,000 and 40,000.

At this time there is said to be a takeover in process by a South African consortium. The truth of that is subject to some doubt though. It would not be overly dramatic to say that the whole club’s future lies in the balance. Things will be tough on the field too, there have been some notable successes of teams leaving the Football League and returning stronger, Luton, Lincoln and Mansfield etc. but there are many more that have stayed in obscurity, almost fatally wounded.

Congratulations to Macclesfield on their hard fought survival, they deserved it. I do feel incredibly sad for Notts County’s supporters though after the darkest day in their long history. A little piece of my family background disappeared with it too.

One For Sorrow….

Notts County 0 – 1 Cambridge United

IN A SOMEWHAT turbulent week for Nottingham football partly due to the departure of Forest manager, Aitor Karanka on the opposite banks of the Trent, I took advantage of a giveaway offer of two pounds admission at Meadow Lane to watch Notts County entertain Cambridge United on this murky January afternoon.

If there is such a thing as a ‘six-pointer’ this game would undoubtedly have qualified as one. The Magpies rock-bottom and propping up the entire league and the Cambridge men only a couple of places above. Notts desperately needed to drag their opposition deeper into the dogfight but proved unable.

image

(Pic: Nottingham Post)

New signing, Jim O’Brien immediately slotted in well for the home team with the Scot giving an assured display in the middle of the park. At long last someone with the ability to put their foot on the ball and look for a pass. Someone with a little time and organisation to dictate play. A shame to say but few of his teammates took his lead. Allessandra might be excused with his neat touches but there were few other exceptions. The wholehearted Stead, a classy performer at higher levels of the game in previous seasons very much looked his 35 years all afternoon, winning few headers and generally being behind the pace of the game. Notts not only defended poorly but the rearguard continually launched the ball forwards nervously and aimlessly to no one in particular.

In general, Cambridge looked the superior team all over the park, more dangerous in the box and more efficiently guarding their own. A large crowd of over 15,000, apart from the Cambridge contingent who were in fine voice, showed signs of restlessness as Notts’ mistakes piled up Conceding deep into the first half saw the Nottingham men on the back foot for the second period with a mountain to now climb.

It may be recorded that despite throwing everything they could at Cambridge, the Magpies looked ineffective and not seriously looking like scoring through the second half. The crowd grew ugly in mood, especially so as they booed the players off the pitch at the close.

ardley

Beleaguered Manager, Neil Ardley

(Pic: Nottingham Post)

Some reflections: I felt for manager, Neil Ardley today who cut a bewildered figure in this technical area. A man of some considerable experience with now just one win in eight games since arriving. He must be seriously wondering how to get a result out of this side.

There is a despondency about the club and around the ground that is palpable. Many look resigned and almost beyond anger. I left the stadium wondering how on earth the club could pull this situation of likely relegation to non-league status around. The fact is I cannot envisage their safety. I feel that despondency for their supporters too. I truly don’t believe that they will avoid their fate. They do not have the talent, heart or ability to survive and they will deserve their fate because of this.

Today, for the first time I felt truly sorry for Notts County. For over 150 years the city of Nottingham has owned two league clubs in Notts and Forest. I largely grew up with that since early days here and it is part of the fabric and culture of this city.

Sadly, I fear for not too much longer.