From the Chair – Notts County
January 1, 2000
Talk about ‘after the Lord Mayor’s Show’! Following a comprehensive victory over our greatest rivals from south of the river in the two-legged area final of the Johnstone’s Paint trophy the last three League fixtures, all away from home, have virtually seen off our long-lingering hopes of gaining a play-off spot at the end of the season. A tense, dour and hard fought goal-less draw at Gay Meadow was perhaps to be expected and not a bad result on a terrible pitch against one of the Division’s in-form teams. However, the last two long trips to struggling teams also yielded just the one point between them.
Our lack of punch up front throughout the season means that we have had to rely on a generally resolute defence to see us through but, as soon as there is a mistake or a bad refereeing decision at the back, then the points are lost. It does make you wonder if it is all in the mind – two clean sheets in front of capacity crowds at Ashton Gate and here at the Mem contrasted completely with the dismally low turn-outs at Accrington and Boston. I thought Barrow’s Holker Street was terribly run down but it is amazing that the Fraser Eagle Stadium is host to League football – it really is little better than some of our local Southern League grounds and, Accrington’s team is frankly not much better. How we contrived to drop a couple points there after being in total control for so much of the game is both a mystery and an example of how life has been since relegation to the basement division. Boston was as Boston invariably is to the Rovers – a bit of a graveyard. It really is a great disappointment that we are back as close to relegation as we are to a play-off spot and, my main concern now is how the team performs for the rest of the season. We simply must get a winning run going so that at least we finish causing a threat to the clubs above us and thereby provide some real optimism for neat season. We know there will be another big gate at Cardiff -the team seem to relish that but, it is beating the lesser sides in front of paltry crowds on cold winter nights that makes for real champions!
I was also very disappointed that we suffered another pathetic pitch invasion after the win here over the City. Both Ken Masters and I had asked in our previous notes for a responsible reaction to a Rovers victory but those appeals seemed to fall on deaf ears. Admittedly most of the ‘invaders’ were just trying to celebrate with their heroes on the pitch but foolish and selfish they still were. However, the small mob which charged towards the City supporters obviously only had trouble on their minds. I didn’t recognise any of the faces that appeared later in the papers and none of them were, thankfully, sporting blue and white. I can only hope therefore that these were the ugly few who unfortunately attach themselves to the club when the high profile matches come along. Whoever they are they are not welcome here and credit is due to the Police and stewards who just managed to prevent a very nasty situation from developing.
To end on a more pleasant note I need only briefly refer to the joint fund-raising that has been taking place to get soldier Jamie Cooper to the JPT Final. I know many on the blue side of town greatly appreciated this act of sportsmanship and joined with the fund raising.
It proves, just like the annual ‘Fans Derby’, that the two sets of supporters can behave in a magnanimous and sporting way towards their rivals and it sets a fine example to the immature pitch invaders!