Friday, 13 August 2010

Places I Have Been: Nottingham

A ten to fifteen minute walk south-east of the train station and city centre, Nottingham’s three main sports stadiums stand in a line either side of the River Trent. Meadow Lane, home of Notts County, the World’s Oldest Football League Club as the sign above one of the stands proclaims, wedged in tightly by light-industrial units on one side, the City Ground backing on to the river bank on the other, barges and rowing boats running in between. The fly-swatter floodlights at Trent Bridge cricket ground, where County played until 1910, loom over a municipal tower block a few streets away - not bad for a city of under 300,000.

I’ve been to both of the football grounds more than once, seeing Newcastle draw with Forest at the tail end of the 1995-96 season (we returned a couple of weeks later for Stuart Pearce’s Testimonial, the arranging of which led to Keegan’s “I’d love it if we beat them” rant. “Now you’re gonna believe us, we nearly won the league," we sang. It was the closest we ever got) and a goalless draw the following year. We were more successful against County, winning easily both times.

As the crow flies, the stadiums are just under 300-metres apart, making them the closest league grounds in England. Visit the City Ground while you can, though – plans are afoot for the club to move to a new 40,000-seater stadium in time for the 2018 World Cup.

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