They painted the city red and they very much made it black and white, too. These are the Notts County record breakers – the history boys of 1997/98.
When camaraderie and spirit joined ability and knowhow to create a team who knew how to win football matches, and regularly.
From training ground bust-ups to unforgettable nights out and from goal-laden strikers to award-winning defenders, Notts County’s class of ‘98 reveal all in a new book, out tomorrow in the Club Shop.
Find out about it from three of the players themselves at a special supporters’ book launch Q&A tomorrow at 11am in the Broken Wheelbarrow. Then-captain Ian Hendon, the heroic Ian Richardson and versatile Ian Baraclough, as well as cult physio Roger Cleary, will chat about that season with Colin Slater. Supporters will get their chance to ask their own questions, too, and get copies of the book signed.
Record Breakers – The Inside Story of Notts County’s 1997/98 Title Win, reveals what made one of only two Magpies sides in more than two decades to achieve promotion so successful.
It was the year the club became the only post-war side to have secured a title by the end of March. It was the year the club became the first in history to pass 4,000 games. It was a year of tumbling records – the club’s best points haul (99), successive wins (ten), longest post-war unbeaten run (16), fewest defeats (five), away wins (15) and away wins in a row (seven).
The players who made it happen, as well as their manager – and future England boss Sam Allardyce – reveal all about the season in the book, which is priced at £16.99. Current Notts boss Kevin Nolan is also exclusively interviewed, giving his own thoughts on working for Allardyce and how he is looking to emulate his Meadow Lane achievements.
Here are some snippets of a few of the best quotes from the book. It’s simply a must-read for all the supporters who remember it, any supporter of the club who wants to live it and any football fan keen to find out all about the inner workings of a 1990s lower-league football club.
“The best left-back called Pearce that Nottingham has ever seen.” – Paul Richardson, supporter
“If we were off on a Sunday, I’d have my dinner and go for a run on a Sunday night to shed a little bit before the Monday. Sam was on at us and had us on our toes. It was an eye-opener coming into the season.” – Ian Hendon, captain
“If I’d have had a stinker and looked shit, they’d have gone, ‘fucking hell, you’ve got rid of Devlin and bought that crap from Southend!’ But luckily, it turned out alright.” – Gary Jones, striker
“We were 3-0 up at half-time. Sam said, ‘keep the locals quiet for the first ten minutes and you could win 6-0. Fifteen minutes later it was 3-3.” – Darren Ward, goalkeeper
“I talk about it with my friends now that winning the league with Notts was my biggest achievement, alongside getting into the England youth sides.” – Craig Dudley, striker
“He caught me with a tackle once at training so I went through him the next time he got the ball. He got up and threw a punch at me and then I punched him.” – Justin Jackson, striker
“The winning team would form a tunnel and the losing team would have to run through. You’d be kicked. It got more and more kicking and punching.” – Ian Baraclough, midfielder
“He smoked 40 a day and drank like a trooper! He had something about him. He upset players.” – Baraclough
“He played for Ireland, Liverpool, and I thought, ‘that’s how it should be.’ You looked at him and thought, ‘you shouldn’t be playing at this level.'” – Alex Dyer, defender
“We were losing 1-0 in the 94th minute and the ball got swung to the back post. My left foot was hopeless so I just swung my leg at it as I wasn’t full of confidence. I couldn’t have hit it any better if it was my normal foot!” – Jones
“Sam said, ‘you don’t like me very much do you? Do you want a fight?'” – Jackson
“I had faith in my team-mates, myself, my manager. As long as we go out there and worked hard we would win.” – Dennis Pearce, defender
“We got champagne and the trophy before the game, which was strange. The players were going out stinking of champagne on the pitch!” – Ian Richardson, defender
Meet Richardson, Baraclough and Hendon at 11am on Saturday 4 August in Broken Wheelbarrow and get your signed copies of Record Breakers.