How Notts County regained their ‘badge of honour’-News

Notts County were promoted for the 14th time in their history

For 1,471 days, the five words that define Notts County have not been seen at their Meadow Lane home.

Amazing win on penalties in the National League promotion finals against Chesterfield at Wembley on Saturday changed all that, as he secured his return to the English Football League after a four-year absence.

Their relegation to non-league football for the first time in 2019 saw 161-year-old Notts, a founding member of the Football League in 1888, lose their mantle as ‘the oldest club in the world’.

The signs announcing Notts’ place in the game’s history, which were around their stadium, were either taken down or covered with black tape.

For the Magpies, the non-league years were dark days.

Cedwyn Scott finally ended years of purgatory with a decisive penalty in their 4-3 shootout win over Spireites Notts after fighting back twice to draw 2-2 at the end of extra time.

“In his words it’s big, it’s a big moment in the club’s history,” Notts County boss Luke Williams told BBC Sport.

“We have closed the door on the most difficult times the club has faced since its inception.

“Now we are trying to get through the next door.

“This is a big time for us now to continue to rebuild the image and brand of Notts County and try to move forward where it should be.”

Notts County historian Michael Chappell, 79, is a lifelong fan who can trace his family background back to his grandfather, who was born just two years after the Magpies were founded.

“I’ve seen the best and the worst,” Chappell told BBC Sport of his decades following the East Midlands club.

“It’s been a disgrace in the National League.

“I would love to go to the big football stadium in heaven with us being a league club and especially a league club with a history of winning.”

‘badge of honor’

Notts County are known for being the team that gave Italian giants Juventus the black and white stripes – a link that led to the Magpies being invited to Turin in 2011 as the Serie A rivals looked to play for the first time after opening their stadium.

Juve are known as the ‘Old Lady’ of Italian football, but Notts’ place as the giants of the game is best summed up by their ability to claim the tag of ‘oldest club in the world’ when their league was relegated.

And although the outfit of the ‘oldest football team in the world’ is not attractive, a little confusing and requires an explanation for anyone who does not know the pyramid of football in England – when the players are still players outside the Football League – it puts them at the front of the line of trailblazers sports.

“It’s very important to the fans to bring it back,” Chappell said. “It means the world because it’s a badge of honor.

“This history binds a lot of people to this club. We are proud, the fans are proud to be a part of this club. This has been passed down from generation to generation.

“It’s almost become our epitaph, but these little words are the ones you can hold on to, they define us.”

‘Notts push forward’

Notts County is a club with a turbulent history.

They were there as one of the 12 teams that made up the Football League and were among the teams that voted for the creation of the Premier League thirty years ago – although they were one of only two sides, apart from Luton Town, that had a vote that had never played in that competition.

Their very existence has been threatened a number of times since they played in the top flight in 1992, after enduring the administration, extortion, many last requests by the previous owner himself unknowingly exposed himself on social media when the group was falling to the bottom.

Danish brothers Alexander and Christoffer Reedtz took charge of Notts when they entered the National League, and although their influence has not been as strong as Wrexham’s Hollywood headliners, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney, they have changed the way the Magpies operate.

While Reynolds and McElhenney have produced docuseries about how to run a football team, the Reedtz brothers put everything they knew as owners of the Football Radar statistics company to the ultimate test.

Their success is best defined by the signing of National League record-breaker Macaulay Langstaff and promotion hero Scott when the club were without a manager last summer.

And for Williams, whose only career as a manager ended when Swindon were relegated from League One in 2017, the Notts captain secured the 14th promotion in their history – which sees him join Neil Warnock, Sam Allardyce and Notts greats. Jimmy Sirrel on the list of the Magpies’ most successful players over the years.

“It feels like we’ve completed a year’s work and that we have long-term goals,” Williams said.

“It doesn’t seem like we’ve reached our destination, we’re on the way forward.

“I don’t think we are where we want to end up.”

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