Thursday, 22 July 2010

Notts County FC (England)

Notts County are the oldest professional football club in the world. Formed in 1862, they predated the Football Associaition, and played a variant of the game with rules of their own devising. Back in the day such clubs were strictly gentlemen-only affairs, with none of the rowdy hoi polloi that you get playing the game these days. They played their early games at Park Hollow in the grounds of Nottingham Castle, but moved to the Trent Bridge Cricket Ground in 1883. In 1888 they were one of twelve clubs who formed The Football League - the world's first national football league.

They came a lowly eleventh in their first term, but 1891 saw them reach a creditable third - still their highest league finish to date. The same year they reached their first FA Cup Final, where they lost 2-1 to Blackburn Rovers at The Oval. However, they paid their dues and got their just reward in 1894 when they beat Bolton Wanders 4-1 in the final at Goodison Park - Jimmy Logan's hat trick the first ever in an FA Cup Final.

They moved into their Meadow Lane ground in 1910 - the mere 300 yards from Forest's City ground making them the closest league grounds in England. Officially it can hold 21,300, but the local concil has limited them to a more manageable 13,724. It was bombed in World War II, has occasionally been flooded by the nearby River Trent, and, more disasterously, has played home to Forest on a couple of occasions when the City Ground has been damaged by flood and fire.

After a few lean years that almost saw them drop out of the league, they most recently made the news when a Middle Eastern consortium bought them, with a view to building them into a Premiership team. After an initial period of excitement when Sol Cambell was signed and Sven-Göran Eriksson brought in as director of football, County fans were dismayed to discover that the club faced a winding up order from HM Customs & Revenue for unpaid PAYE bills. However, despite all this confusion, last season saw them win the Division 2 title and get promoted to League 2 under the leadership of Steve Cotterill - who promptly left them for Portsmouth. 

They are famously the source of the Juventus kit. After a few years playing in pink, the Turin side were looking for a more agreeable kit. Their management asked one of their English players, John Savage, if he had any connections back home who could provide them a more robust and manly kits, and his contact back home just happened to be a Notts County supporter and shipped them out immediately - and Juve have worn them ever since. So next time you see them swanning about in the Champions League, spare a thought for the grand old English team who helped make them famous!

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