Enjoy a match day experience at Meadow Lane, the home of Notts County FC
Those who know me will be well aware of where my passion lies. I’ve been a Notts County supporter all my life (as it states at the foot of this blog) and it’s a club that is very close to my heart so to finally be able to write a blog on the club is a great feeling. Now I write about the club and its history, and to a certain extent I will touch upon that. However, the purpose of this blog is to talk about Notts County Football Club as a tourist attraction – and the fact that it is a brand of which everyone in Nottinghamshire should be proud.
I have attended several games at the start of the new season, including the first home match against Fleetwood Town. What Notts County offers you on a match day is value for money and a fantastic day out . The club holds the title as the oldest football league club in the world and heritage is something that has become part of its brand. The current owners have tapped into its history very well and have striven to ensure that it’s at the heart of all its activities both on and off the field.
On my last visit, the ground was rocking at 3pm, with the Wheelbarrow Song in full chorus. For those of you who don’t know the wheelbarrow Song, it’s the song of Notts County Football Club. Stemming back many years to an away match at Shrewsbury Town, a Shrewsbury fan sang about his wheelbarrow during a game and the fact its wheel has fallen off (the reason for this is unknown). Notts then went on to score and in jest, decided to sing, ‘I had a wheelbarrow, the wheel fell off’. The song has stuck ever since and can regularly be heard bellowing from the Kop stand before games, after a goal or indeed at any moment the faithful deem it relevant.
Meadow Lane is a great introduction to a match day experience for young football fans or indeed if you’re older and have never attended a live game. Even though I am slightly biased, I will argue honestly that fans can make as much noise and create as much atmosphere as any of those in the leagues above. For a young family, and certainly for parents who want to introduce their children to the world of football, Notts County ranks right up there as a welcoming club and a day out that everyone can enjoy.
Initiatives such as the open day in early August are all part of this ethos and will continue to be so in the future, as well as tours of the stadium and events to provide fans with the chance to get up close and personal with people at the club. Children have the chance to be match day mascots, supporters are encouraged to chip in with content for the clubs match day programme and can also send the player’s words of encouragement for match days via email. The whole atmosphere around the club is one of togetherness.
The club has made sure over recent years that the ‘kids for a quid’ matches become more frequent as well as cheaper ticket prices for adults for selected matches during a season. It’s also very reasonable if you’re a student living here with special rates for those studying in the city. A clever initiative laid out this season has been The Bench. It’s a scheme whereby all season ticket holders are treated like new signings. Everyone who signs up receives a contract, a photo in the home dugout and a tour of the ground and sometimes the chance to meet the manager or players, depending on who’s at the ground on that particular day. The Bench has brought the fans and the clubs staff closer together, creating a unity and togetherness which is demanded right from the very top, from the chairman and manager, through to the staff in the club shop and the ticket office.
Here at Experience Nottinghamshire, we’ve been working very closely with the club over the past month – and for those of you who were able to make it along to the club’s open day on the 2nd August, you might well have spotted myself and my dad working at our exhibition stand. Days like these are what the club are all about now because they break down barriers between the players and the fans and make them feel like they’re part of something special. Supporters were able to take part in guided tours of the stadium, meet players, the manager, the chairman, the staff behind the scenes, be part of the club’s largest team photo and watch the players train in an open training session. Notts County is all about being a family club and one that is active in the community and the open day epitomised this perfectly.
Personally I feel this is an exciting time to be a supporter of Notts County Football Club and I hold real optimism for the coming seasons with the way the club is being run and the initiatives that are being put in place to involve the fans in what’s happening. If you haven’t already been to a match then make a note of the fixtures for this season which can be found on the club’s website. Make a day at Meadow Lane part of your Nottinghamshire experience this season and enjoy the history of the world’s oldest football league club.
For more history on Notts County Football Club and to learn about its formation and links to the Mercure Hotel, please visit my blog on the clubs visit to the Mercure last September.