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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Fan Files: Notts County

Here at Soccer AM/MW we're keeping in tune with what's really going on across the football pyramid this season by speaking to the people who really know - the fans.

For the latest in our series of interviews we focus on the League Two club everybody's been talking about - Notts County.

It's been a remarkable 2009 for the League's oldest club with a summer takeover by rich Middle Eastern consortium, the appointment of former England boss Sven-Goran Eriksson as Director of Football, and the outlining of a vision to be playing Premier League football.

Keith Sheriston has been supporting the Magpies for 40 years and has seen many ups and downs over the years.

He rates promotion to the old First Division in 1991 as the highlight of his time following the team. The last five years struggling at the wrong end of the basement division have, unsurprisingly, been the nadir though.

So Keith, it's been quite a few lean years for the club of late - this is just what you needed wasn't it?

Yes, even if it goes belly up we were never going to go anywhere without this, so let's ride with it and enjoy it while it lasts!

Are you aware of, or have encountered, any hostility towards County from other League Two fans since your cash injection?

Forest fans seem to be waking up and having a go - which didn't tend to happen in the recent past as I think they just felt sorry for dear old Notts.

Now there is a bit of an under current though - a bit like Manchester City to Manchester United now, but not so grand.

As for other League Two clubs, the game to win is now against Notts so it's like playing 46 cup ties a season!

What about the events surrounding the departure of Ian McParland as manager. Was he given the resources to get you promotion but not the time, or did the money just put him under even greater pressure?

McParland was a good manager, but not a good ambassador for the club - which is why he lost his job.

The team we have now is still his and the new manager - Hans Backe - does not see the need for wholesale changes, so on a playing front he must have got it just about right.

New Notts boss Hans Backe is an old friend of Sven-Goran Eriksson

So, if the team's right, is promotion this season a foregone conclusion then? Surely anything less would have to be considered a failure?

Promotion now is the only option and is looking increasingly likely. I agree though, anything less than a top three finish would be a failure.

Has the money been spent well so far? Have you got the players who will get you promoted, or just names?

The blend of players is just about right. The signing of Sol Campbell was a bit of a joke and it backfired big-time, so hopefully they have learned their lesson.

They need to buy quality players capable of coping with the next 'higher' division. That is, League One or even Championship players - but not Premier League at this level. Although the situation with Kasper Schmeichel is different to out-field.

Is there any part of you which wishes you hadn't been taken over and you didn't have all this money to spend?

I wonder what will happen when the investors leave. I can see Notts dropping back down again - assuming we get up there in the first place!

Any club is only as big as the support it gets and unless you get 40,000+ gates it's difficult to compete at the top level unless financed, as at present.

Meadow Lane - a ground fit for the Premier League, but will Notts ever get there?

Is the Premier League dream realistic for County or not then? If so, how long do you think it will be before we see Notts in the top flight?

Anything is possible. Notts were there only 17 years ago.

Look at Burnley and Hull - both avoided dropping out of the Football League by a whisker - the latter no longer than ten years ago. Wolves were also in the basement division in the past.

Five years is certainly possible, as once you start winning the momentum builds and if they have the right manager who buys wisely, yeah, for sure.

And finally, what's the best thing about being a Notts County fan?

[Aimed at Turls] Never having lost to Coalville Town!

Keith, thanks for speaking to Soccer AM/MW.

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