Nottingham is an exciting sprawling cosmopolitan City; I know this because we spent most of Saturday lunchtime time driving around desperately trying to locate a decent take-away. It was a simple task; we gave the Ripponden Shaymen the freedom to pick a chippy, any chippy in the entire city and yet, we still didn’t find one. We did however find lots of interesting places, lots of speed cameras and swarms of fearless balaclava clad youngsters cycling around the busy streets deliberately slowing down the traffic. It was difficult to work out if they were just being naughty and showing off or were oblivious to the Highway Code or merely highlighting the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. It was certainly added fun on a warm Saturday afternoon.
It was easier in the end to buy six decommissioned missiles than it was to find somewhere to eat. We parked up near the colourful cattle market behind the football ground and located an interesting ex-army yard. A sign stated that everything was for sale, from the eight-foot-high nosecone of a Tornado fighter jet to a full-size torpedo with working tailfins or a set of six red and yellow missiles with a handy matching trolley. It was a real tempting purchase, but we had two problems, one would we get them in the ground (it didn’t mention any of these items on the ground regulations prohibited list) and two, who should we leave behind in Nottingham. It’s fair to say that the military artefacts are far more interesting than the usual cargo we have on the back seat on our trips to football!
The stewards at Notts County were great, they let us in before the turnstiles were open and couldn’t have been more friendly as we put Tesco Pete’s giant flag on display in the last block of the away stand. The ground is impressive; it’s an all-seater stadium with a capacity of around 20,000. It was rebuilt back in the 1990’s and has a uniform feel about the place. There are two giant magpies with touches of yellow depicted in the seats main stand referencing the club’s nickname. The ‘kop’ end behind the goal holds more than 5,000 home fans with three levels of seating rising steeply to the roof of the stand. The travelling Shaymen were given the exclusive use of Jimmy Sirrel Stand down the full length of the pitch. The other end of the pitch has a smaller stand behind which is the river Trent. Just on the other side of the river you can see floodlights and stands of Nottingham Forrest. You might need a decent golf club but it’s probably close enough of a good player to hit a ball from one ground to another.
The first half was goalless, but the atmosphere was great. There were around 650 noisy travelling Shaymen wearing a whole host of colourful home and away shirts from recent seasons in the warm sunshine and a very loud drum encouraging the team at every opportunity. There were few chances for either team with the referee catching the attention of both sets of fans in a competitive but disjointed half. The Greetland Shayman was more than happy with the status quo at the break; he would gladly have taken a point from the game if he could.
Within minutes of the restart a red card was shown to the Notts County captain for a late and dangerous tackle. The noise cranked up a notch in the away end but was quickly extinguished soon after; County took the lead with 10 men as the home fans came to life. The rest of the game was disappointing, wayward passes and not much cohesion as many were frustrated in the away end. For much of the second half it seemed like both sides were playing with 11 men, there was little space as County worked hard and never looked like conceding an equaliser.
Driving back and it was difficult to be too critical given that the team are only a couple of points off the top of the league in third place. It’s two defeats in a row to clubs that have much bigger budgets having been just relegated from the football league. In comparison, it’s around this time last season we had our away trip to Maidenhead, nothing seems anything like as bad as that day out. Things are so much brighter this season.
Next up we’re on the box for a late kick off at Dover; it’s an opportunity for us to find something else to do at 3.00 pm, perhaps another game, perhaps a trip to France anything’s possible if we set off early enough, we may even find a chippy this time too…
Total goals on the road 10, total miles 1626 – C’mon Shaymen!
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