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Notts County – Graveyard of Managers

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A few words on the current happenings at Meadow Lane.

Notts County – Graveyard of Managers

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The news was announced this past weekend that the oldest league club in the world, Notts County have decided to part ways with their current manager, former Notts defender, Craig Short. Nothing too unusual about that you might suggest as yet another manager is unceremoniously sacked but by the local media’s reckoning this announcement means that the Magpies will shortly be announcing their sixth manager in just one year including caretaker bosses.

It was the mid-sixties when I attended my first game at the old Meadow Lane ground with a maternal uncle who, like others in his family, had watched Notts in their earlier fashionable days. As anyone with an inkling about Nottingham football history will inform you, the 1940s and 1950s saw the heady days of England centre-forward, the magnificent Tommy Lawton signing for the then Third Division (South) club for a fee of £20,000 which was sensational news that stunned the football world at the time. The England spearhead signed from Chelsea and came to preside over average crowds of around 35,000 at Meadow Lane. In those days Notts were arguably the glamour club in the city, scoring barrow loads of goals through Lawton himself, aided and abetted by an outstanding inside forward Jackie Sewell and other aces in a strong line-up.

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A few short years later however and the writing was on the wall for County with, apart from the brighter news of a smattering of young stars who were sold off such as Jeff Astle and Tony Hateley, some generally very glum and depressing times indeed for the old club. It was in that dismal era with the club floundering amongst the dead men applying for re-election to the league’s old Fourth Division that I first heard the phrase used by my uncle ‘graveyard of managers’ for that is surely what Meadow Lane had become.

A little research tells me that in just over a decade leading up to 1968, Notts County had earned that tag by employing no less than eight different men at the helm. This era began with Lawton himself who lasted a miserable fifteen months and ended with former Forest hero, Billy Gray who managed just a year at the club. I think it’s fair to say that these statistics of the day were outstanding and for all the wrong reasons. Whilst maybe they would not be completely unusual in current win-at-all-costs modern football they were a damning set of figures at the time.

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Glory days – Lawton scores his hundredth goal for Notts in front of another big crowd

To the present then and we can see that the more some things change, the more they stay the same as in a similar ten-year period the Magpies hot seat has been filled by no less than twelve manager, not counting caretakers. As previously mentioned, the local media is quoting six in just the last year including short-term appointments.

Craig Short, as far as I’m aware a reasonably popular signing due partly to his former popularity as an excellent central defender for the club has been shown the door after just five months and thirteen games in charge. Five of those games were won and at the time of the sacking Notts stood at a respectable sixteenth in their division. One has to ask, exactly what chance did Short have in that time of creating success at the old club? In furthering his case it has to be remembered that Notts are a newly-promoted side having gained access to League Two this season after a barn-storming finale to season 2009/10. They are now playing at a higher level and with many members of last season’s successful side needing replacement.

Short is very much a rookie, a tyro in football management terms with just a few months experience in an interesting looking former appointment at Hungarian side, Ferencvaros. He undoubtedly has much to learn but arguably showed signs that he was capable of doing so astutely and quickly. In any case, if he had been seen as too inexperienced to lead the Magpies just five months ago what has really changed in this time?

I’m a casual bystander in what happens in the Nottingham football world these days but I enjoy seeing both local teams excel. I have to say that when Ray Trew took over the ownership of the club a short while ago his common sense and financially prudent approach seemed to be exactly what Notts County needed after the ridiculous pie-in-the-sky Munto Finance days. His manner was straight talking and to the point and I liked the cut of his jib in sorting out what were worrying and quickly mounting problems at Meadow Lane. That’s partly why I am surprised and disappointed at the short-termism being shown here.

Notts County are not a big cheese in the world of football these days but I do believe in this case here they provide a very good example of one of the ills of the modern game. There is a lack of patience and tolerance shown to managers generally in what is at 95% of clubs an incredibly difficult job. These men get little leeway to bring to fruition the plans they formulate for the teams that employ them. It is a mathematic fact too that only the few can win things in any given season. There are a myriad of reasons why success comes to certain clubs, huge support and financial backing probably at the forefront but it is not unconnected that even at a peak level such as that seen at Manchester United and Arsenal some of the most successful clubs are those that stick by the man in charge of team affairs on a long-term basis. Former Notts County legend, Jimmy Sirrel a man I met and was fortunate enough to talk to at length one suffered the indignity of being sacked, I know would be the first to agree.

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the thing is Notts lost a vast percentage of their home fans with the demolition of the meadows and to some extent st annes thus reducing their income and ability to buy good players, and success breeds success, get a team regularly in the top half and they'll get bigger gates and so better players and/or manager, to me it all goes round and round? plus of course in latter years the success of forest took 1'000's of would be young magpies to forest, quite rightly so, in fact I am surprised forest with their crowds cannot buy their way up? not exactly bought any star players have they? for some years now they seem to contently drift along till the playoff's then commit suicide. However fact remains Notts seem to get some crap managers! looks like another coming too! what price Cotterill

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Ash, why did this have the same effect at the city ground?

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assume you mean didn't mick? if so then I guess it did, but Notts were always the "local team" surrounded by houses right up to the ground, I remember at one match a house chimney caught fire, the backyard of such just the other side of the fence, they had to stop the game till it was put out. No doubt in 1950's loads of forest fans within the city area, but seemed to me Notts got all the "walking fans" not that easy when uprooted from likes of kirk white st andsent to broxtowe? still same today, bet you if a survey done percentage wise etc forest would have more out of the city fans? however the success of forest, 1959 cup, 1st dvision etc to say nothing of Cloughies achievements with a team of Francis apart shrewd buying etc of course made a vast difference, to say nothing of the old fashioned attitude and ideas at meadow lane, they stood still while others progressed, bit like british motorbikes? or Britain itself really!

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However fact remains Notts seem to get some crap managers! looks like another coming too! what price Cotterill

To their credit, they've had some pretty decent ones too, Ashley, albeit sometimes whilst learning their trade. Apart from 'Saint' Jimmy there are some interesting names from the not so distant past in John Barnwell, Neil Warnock and Sam Allardyce, Cotterill who you mention is obviously destined for greater things too.

There's no doubt that the destruction of the old Meadows had an effect on the club but I personally think that was only part of the problem. There are plenty of clubs who are not based near their traditional catchment area these days through having moved stadiums or older housing areas being altered. The rot had set in with Notts before that I reckon with lack of investment in the club. I'll stress it wasn't just Notts, but where did all the money go from the good years and big crowds? It certainly didn't get invested in the teams of the sixties, nor the ground in those years which barely saw a lick of paint from one year to the next.

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. Former Notts County legend, Jimmy Sirrel a man I met and was fortunate enough to talk to at length one suffered the indignity of being sacked, I know would be the first to agree.

Sorry Stu I think you've missed a word or two out here, I don't think 'Sir' Jimmy was ever sacked by any team!!

And of course don't forget in that list of great Notts Managers, Howard Wikinson, not brilliant by any means , but he's the last Englishman to lead a team to the title (Leeds) and he did manage England for a bit!!

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Cheers Beef, yes, copied it wrong from my blog. A great record!

'Jimmy Sirrel a man I met and was fortunate enough to talk to at length one sunny afternoon and a manager who never once suffered the indignity of being sacked, I know would be the first to agree.'

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'bout effing time

And it's something I've been looking for in the footie headlines for at least three weeks !!

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another one bites the dust, have heard it wer nowt to do with the results but fact Mad Dog applied for the England job!

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Really? A source tells me he's long been lined up at Glasgow Rangers for when McCoist bombs. Whatever, I don't think either club can afford him in the current situation. Good luck to Notts if they can get him, that would be some acquisition.

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I don't know what Ray Trew expects! 11th in the league, next to no money to spend, half the team made up of loanees.....we weren't doing that badly, were we? Must be something deeper to this.

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re Billy Davies, well that's what my source said, a bloke who goes in the pub, his sister's brother in law's dad's mate works on the turnstiles so he should know! lol

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I'm in agreement with Gibbo there

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Not sure graveyard is right word? after all there are a few who have done well after leaving Notts, but how others dare appear on tv as "experts" I'll never know!

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Not sure graveyard is right word?

Maybe not for a few individuals whose stock was rising in the game such as Warnock, Wilkinson and Allardyce, Ash. It certainly was for the countless others that have been sacked though, often without being given a real chance, in my view. Press currently reporting that Notts are looking for their seventh manager in 28 months.

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BBC website says that Keith Curle will be appointed manager this afternoon

Why the hell are they employing another second rate no hoper who's been sacked by nearly all his former employers ?? He'll be gone before November !!

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Seems a very strange appointment. There may be some good explanation for Allen leaving but it's hard to see the reasoning behind this appointment. They're not happy on the County forums!

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If true he should fit in well! Sacked at Mansfaild, (a mystery?) sacked at Chester after an 11 out of 12 losing run, relegated with Torquay, contract not renewed, sacked as coach of QPR, sounds about right for Notts!

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Just when we thought it couldn't get any worse, ie: Munto etc, this happens. Once again Notts are becoming the laughing stock of football. The only reason Notts have got Curle, is cheapness not for being successful. Oh well, hope he does well, for his sake.

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