Formed in 1862, Notts County are the oldest professional league club in the world. Situated within the City of Nottingham, over the years they have been overshadowed by the success of their near neighbours and bitter rivals Nottingham Forest.
After foundation, Notts County FC played what can only be described as a variation of football to what is recognised today.
Their first ground was at Park Hollow which was located within the grounds of Nottingham Castle. Two years later, when it was decided to start playing matches against outside opponents, the search started to find a larger venue. For the next 19 years they became nomads, moving around numerous different venues including the Meadows Cricket Ground and the Castle Cricket Ground, until settling as tenants to the Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club at Trent Bridge.
In 1888, County were one of the 12 founder member clubs of the Football League finishing the first season in 11th place. Things soon improved and 2 years later they managed 3rd. This again was equalled a further 10 years down the line, which remains their highest league finish to this day.
In 1894 they won the FA Cup becoming the first club to win the trophy when playing outside the 1st Division (they ended the season 3rd in Division Two).
Trent Bridge to Meadow Lane
Because of the football and cricket seasons overlapping, County were often forced to play matches in early and late season at other venues whilst cricket took priority at Trent Bridge. This was duly frowned upon by the Football League, who eventually lost patience and put pressure on the club to either make a more conducive arrangement with their landlords, or look for a ground of their own.
In 1910, when the trustees of Trent Bridge decided to not renew the lease, Notts County managed to lease some land from the City council. Close to the cattle market, this land was on the other side of the river from Trent Bridge and work very soon started on the construction of a new ground.
A temporary stand that had been used at the cricket ground was dismantled and actually floated across the river to its new home at one end of the ground. A main stand was constructed along one of the sides with a cover put up on the far side and the remaining end was piled up with earth which formed the Kop.
|Meadow Lane in 2005|
In early September 1910 Meadow Lane was ready and its inaugural match took place against Nottingham Forest ending in a 1-1 draw in front of 27,000 people.
As the years progressed, many changes were made to the Meadow Lane ground. A new stand was built in 1923-5 on the far side with the newly constructed County Road running behind it and repairs had to be made after the ground was hit by a wartime bomb, causing extensive damage to the Main stand.
In 1949, as football attendances increased, the Kop was heightened by 12 feet and then for the next 30 years the ground remained very much in that state, until 1978, when a new structure including offices, squash courts and new changing rooms was erected to replace the Meadow Lane stand.
By 1992 the ground was beginning to look somewhat shabby and run down. So during that summer a large undertaking to build 3 new stands took place, culminating in the Main stand being replaced 2 years later.
Over the last few years the club have worked hard on a program of tidying and sprucing up the ground and it now has a capacity of 21,300 which is limited by council licence to 13,725.
Link to Italian Giants Juventus
County’s first known colours were amber and black hoops but in 1890 they adopted their now familiar black and white stripes.
Juventus actually derived their famous black and white stripes from Notts County. Back in 1903, they asked one of their players at the time, Englishman John Savage, if he had any contacts at home in England who could supply new shirts in colours that would not fade when washed. He had a friend in Nottingham who was a County supporter who shipped out a supply of black and white striped shirts. The rest as they say is history!