Forest today announced another addition to the preseason friendly schedule, against dearest neighbours Notts County. To be honest, I have mixed feelings about this game with the Magpies, probably coming down on the side of negative overall. I do think in general the preseason plans are probably sensible, certainly the tour of Scotland will be a good chance for the team to spend time together away from Nottingham (assuming they behave, of course!) without turning into the disaster that was that tour of America.
But anyway, Notts County. I quite like them in some ways, not in that patronising way that Notts fans accuse us of, I just see a local team who’ve been through the mill a bit and I like to see them do well – of course, that is helped by the fact that for the last few years they’ve mostly been in leagues beneath us, but I think a city the size of Nottingham has room for two teams doing well – something that both sides have certainly starved the good public of Nottnigham for more years than I care to remember! The other massive positive is the chance to see Jason Lee again!
The negatives are that this could, of course, become “Sir Charlie Palmer Day” mark two. As I’m sure most fans are aware, Notts fans (judging by a few acquaintances and some of the folks who call in to Matchtalk) quite enjoy reminding us of this – ultimately inconsequential – defeat at Meadow Lane way back in 1993/94. Of course, that season under Frank Clark we were promoted anyway – but that hasn’t stopped the day being a cause of constant celebration, indeed, being released on video at the time! I suppose you have to take your pleasure where you can! You can read the details in loving detail just here.
The second thing that makes me feel ambivalent towards County fans stems from more recent events. When Notts were in absolute financial dire straits there was a groundswell of support from fans from all over the country, not least Forest fans (who also used to swell the ranks of Magpies on their trips to Wembley in the playoffs under Warnock, I might add!). Animosity was cast aside as fans and players (I remember David Johnson donating cash to them too) helped out our neighbours in their hour of need. But what happened when the Trent End loan debacle happened? Whingeing Sadpies on local radio and in the papers demanding the council evict Forest or force us into administration or all manner of punishment.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect hostilities to cease, I understand that we’re not exactly the favourite of Notts fans, but the timing and the similarities of the situations was quite grating at the time. Of course, I realise that comments on programmes like Matchtalk or in the fans talk sections of the local rag are not representative necessarily of the entire population, but nonetheless, it leaves a sour taste and makes me unsure whether I want to contribute to a preseason friendly to put more money in their pockets, if that’s how we were thanked for offering a helping hand previously.
But anyway, I digress! I probably will head on down if nothing else to see Jason Lee again – whilst never the most gifted footballer, I admire his staying power and refusal to give up the game, and have fond memories of him in a Forest shirt all those years ago. The preseason fixture is shaping up like this, and it promises to be at least mildly entertaining:
17th July – Ilkeston Town
18th July – Rushden and Diamonds
21st July – Chesterfield (Steve Blatherwick Testimonial)
24th July – Kilmarnock
26th July – Dunfermline
28th July – Motherwell
30th July – Notts County
4th August – Sheffield United
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