Friday, 5 August 2016

Meadow Lane - Notts County

Notts County 1-0 Blackburn Rovers

31st July 2016

When Dunfermline Athletic’s top scorer last term Faissal el Bakhtaoui chose not to accept terms for the coming season, I thought I may have watched him play for the last time.  Particularly so, given he had finished last season with a whopping total of 30 goals and would therefore, one assumed, be a man in demand.

Hearts and Hibs-supporting work colleagues were each convinced Faissal was going to end up at their club, but I think we were all a touch surprised when we learned he had travelled south for a few weeks’ trial with English Championship side Blackburn Rovers - Scottish third tier to English second tier is a BIG jump, we felt.

Faissal had featured in a couple of Rovers' pre-season friendlies without troubling the scoreboard on any occasion, so I wondered if this friendly with Notts County represented last-chance saloon for the French-born Moroccan.  If so, whilst he would have the advantage of being up against English League Two defenders, on the downside his teammates this afternoon would for the most part be members of the Blackburn under-23 side – the majority of the big lads having taken part in a 1-1 draw the previous day with Spanish second division side Girona

So how did the chap do?  Not terribly well, I am afraid.  He scored most of his goals last season (or the ones I saw) using his pace to turn lumbering part-time defenders.   Here he appeared compelled to spend most of his time indulging in aerial duels with one or other of the Notts County centre-backs; Rovers’ manager Owen Coyle clearly having decided upon a route-one approach this afternoon.  An early shot which was a few inches too high, a slice of neat trickery midway through the first half, and the carving out of a half-chance for himself after the break (during which appeared to spend much of his time in midfield) was as much impression on proceedings as the lad managed.

His hangdog expression as he left the field I am sure reflected the fact he pretty much realised wherever else he was going to be playing his football this coming season, it would not be at Ewood Park.  Notts County could do worse than giving him a punt I reflected.

For although this was a reasonably entertaining encounter, there was precious little quality up front from either side, particularly after County's impressive Stanley Oborah had had to limp off.  The 27th minute goal which did settle things relied upon an error by a visiting defender, who allowed the ball to drop to Adam CAMPBELL who bashed in off the underside of the crossbar.   There were a few further flaps in front of the visitors’ goal, but I cannot really recall any time the home keeper was unduly troubled.  

As mascots go, Mr Magpie is one of the more memorable.
I still think Sammy the Tammy could take him in a fight, though. 

The Jimmy Sirrel Stand, Meadow Lane, Notts County FC

I think we are looking here at (L to R) Lewis Mansell, Thierry Audel and Faissal el Bakhtaoui

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

Faissal el Bakhtaoui and (more guesswork), Matt Tootle and Stanley Aborah

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

Although it was hardly balmy weather, at every opportunity players scurried to the touchline to "re-hydrate".

Panorama of Meadow Lane, Notts County

County's Haydn Hollis stands by and watches as the rest of the guys get on with things.

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

When did football players start thinking wearing a bra was good thing?

Graham Burke - Notts County.

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

Notts County v Blackburn Rovers - July 2016

Panorama of Meadow Lane, Notts County

Notts County’s ground is called Meadow Lane, but I would suggest it has been some considerable time since there were any meadows nearby, the ground surrounded these days by industrial units.  An impressive attendance of 1,400 pitched up for this pre-season friendly and they made a fair old din throughout, and I found I really rather liked the place.

I do appreciate the club’s first home league match was still almost two weeks away, but the place really could have benefited from a pre-season scrub-up.  I don’t think I have encountered a stand so liberally and impressively decorated with pigeon shit, plus I found I came away with a film of dirt on my new black 501’s each time I moved to a different seat.  But then perhaps the club rely on bums to polish the seats clean as their season progresses.   If so, they must be hoping for a cup tie with neighbours Forest soon to get all the seats done.

Meadow Lane - Notts County.

These two chaps are Jimmy Sirrel (left) and Jack Wheeler, the management team who
took Notts County into the top tier of English football in 1981.

Meadow Lane - Notts County.

Meadow Lane - Notts County.

Meadow Lane - Notts County.

Meadow Lane - Notts County.

Rear of the Meadow Lane Spion Kop

Meadow Lane with Nottingham Canal in foreground.


  1. Spot on with your Notts County players apart from the extra 'e' in Haydn Hollis' name.

    1. Thanks for that, Dan. Correction made.

  2. HAving checked him out I think your Sammy the Tammy (what is a Tammy?!) is one of the most entertaining mascots I've seen in a while!
    Richard, Notts fan

  3. Hi Richard
    Thank you for your comments.

    Sammy certainly has had his moments over the years. I assume you have unearthed his cardboard tank and tobogganing down the stand steps antics.

    A tammy is what he is wearing in his head.

    I have kept a weather eye on County over the season since my early visit. You certainly went through a decidedly ropey spell before the New Year.

    Thankfully, for your team, Orient are such a basket-case this season. And your lads have had a very good March. Upwards and Onwards, as they say.