The Meadow Lane ground is on the banks of the river Trent which divides it from Nottingham Forest’s City ground.
The weather for Notts County’s last home game of a disappointing season was more like autumn than the end of April with rain, a temperature of just 7 degrees and swirling wind making it a grey day. The talk in the stands among the 8598 fans was gloomy with some clinging on to a hope that Bolton’s potential non completion of fixtures could mean only one team ends up being relegated.
This is a very good ground and the prospect of them playing in the National League next season against Chesterfield, Torquay, Barnet, Stockport, Hartlepool and Halifax could result in a record attendance aggregate for that league.
Notts County Football Club, nicknamed The Magpies, were formed in 1862 and were one of the twelve clubs that started the Football League in 1888. It is a long time since their only major trophy, victory in the 1894 FA Cup Final. However they have been continuous in the League ever since and are the oldest professional team an honour that will pass to Stoke City should Notts County go down. One unusual fact is that it was their black and white vertical striped kit that was adopted by Juventus who still play in the strip today.
Grimsby Town is a long standing club too being started in 1878 as Grimsby Pelham and changing their name a year later. They were founder members of the Football Leagues second division in 1892 and have been champions of lower divisions 6 times in their history. Their nickname is the Mariners and play all of their games away from Grimsby as their ground is in Cleethorpes. This fact will hopefully change one day as they try to get numerous plans off the ground. The goalposts keep changing though and their 120 year stay in Cleethorpes looks set to continue for some while. They tasted demotion to the National League and had to stay at that level for 6 years before returning in 2016.
Notts County 2 Grimsby Town 1
It was a tense start to the game as neither side dominated.
But a gloom soon fell over the home fans as they heard of Yeovil’s away goal at Northampton which was soon doubled, Notts County were looking down and out. The team could not have heard this news and came on strongly before half time.
With it all in County’s own hands they started the second half well and on 48 minutes found a chink in the solid Grimsby defence when a cross from Rose was deflected to Craig Mackail-Smith, who touched it into the net at the far post.
This was well deserved as the veteran had been running and challenging for any ball and was inspiring the crowd and his team mates.
County were two up on 67 minutes when the ball looped into the net following a free kick and no one was quite sure whether it was on own goal by Harry Clifton or a Pierce Bird flicked header.
There was more joy as Northampton equalised sending Yeovil bottom and relegated but Macclesfield had scored away from home.
In the 6 minutes added time Grimsby scored a consolation goal through Alex Whitmore and the referee blew the final whistle soon after leaving Notts County the task of having to win their last game away to Swindon and hope Macclesfield lose at home to Cambridge United.
The supporters club at the end of the ground perhaps foretells the fate of the team when the last game is played. The notes in the program by Chairman Alan Hardy thanked everyone for their help during his tenure but explained that he was stepping down and new owners were ready to take over. A fan next to me told me the new owners were a South African group who were waiting to finalise the price dependent on which league the club finds itself in.
These were great chips served from a mobile van inside the van and if they would have been hot their score of 80 would have been higher.