Can the Record Breakers inspire another title charge?

My new book, Record Breakers: The Inside Story of Notts County’s Momentous 1997/98 Title Win is being launched by the club on the morning of the opening game of the new League Two season.

Some 20 years on, it reflects on one of the most remarkable campaigns in the club’s long history. A season that saw the Magpies become the first post-war side to be crowned champions before the end of March. That’s something that still stands.

Furthermore, under the stewardship of a future England manager in Sam Allardyce, the class of ’98 broke club record after club record: successive wins, away wins, away wins in a row, unbeaten run (post-war), points haul and fewest defeats.

It’s why that season deserves to be documented in print. To be reflected upon and to have its iconic status secured. Record Breakers tells the story of the season, through the words of those who made it happen. From goalkeeper Darren Ward, to captain Ian Hendon, stalwart Ian Richardson, young midfielder Shaun Derry and goalscoring sensation Gary Jones. Those and many others tell the tales behind the records and give a fascinating insight into what it takes to be a success at the level of football Notts again find themselves competing in.

Hendon, Richardson and fellow key man Ian Baraclough will help launch the book on the morning of 4th August, when Notts kick-off the new campaign with a home clash against Colchester United. From 11am in Broken Wheelbarrow, Colin Slater will host a Q&A with the trio, as well as popular physio Roger Cleary, for supporters to share their memories, ask questions and get copies of the book signed.

It promises to be a fascinating event to whet the appetite ahead of the new season. The book also includes a chapter on current manager Kevin Nolan, serialised here in Nottingham Post, who reflects on his time under Allardyce, which came following Big Sam’s eventual departure from Meadow Lane to Bolton Wanderers. Nolan speaks about his desire to emulate his mentor.

In an exclusive interview with Allardyce himself in the book, the long-serving manager discusses his hopes for Nolan to do likewise.

And that’s the challenge for Notts this season. From the same tier they were promoted from two decades ago, they will look to do the same under Nolan.

Baraclough, Hendon and Richardson – as they do through the book – will tell of the team ethic, the off-field togetherness and the commitment and sheer ability that ran through Allardyce’s men. The ingredients are there among Nolan’s ranks too.

It will take quite something to get even close to the records that tumbled and largely remain from 1997/98. But Nolan’s men can do worse than listen to how they did it and be inspired by it too. The fans who read the book, relive the good times as they read it and remember how it felt will certainly start believing.

Look out for some exclusive extracts from Record Breakers, published by Pitch Publishing, ahead of its launch in the Notts County Club Shop on 4th August (priced £16.99) next week.

Join the FREE Q&A with Richardson, Baraclough, Hendon and Cleary, alongside Colin Slater, from 11am on Saturday 4th August in Broken Wheelbarrow before the Colchester United home game. Listen, ask your questions and get copies of the book signed.

Follow @1RecordBreakers on Twitter or find @NottsCountyRecordBreakers on Facebook for more.

Paul Smith

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