Home > Football, Previous clubs > My time at…Notts County..Part 2 Game over

My time at…Notts County..Part 2 Game over

 

Our small, experienced squad made it difficult for us to have a settled team. Michael Johnson struggled to play 3 games a week. Although I was in a bit of denial at the time about this (I thought I could play 3 games a week but couldn’t either) he was pretty honest about it. He was a great player. Not just for Notts but at his other clubs.

 I remember playing against him for Grimsby Town against Birmingham City many years ago. I recall a situation during the game where I had about 10 yards on him chasing a ball. I sauntered through only to find that he had eaten up the ground on me and easily dispossessed me. Although at Notts he had lost some of his pace he could read the game amazingly. It was his last season that year and was a true Notts legend.

Training was always pretty good during my time at County. This was something that was very important to me. I had been at some clubs where training was a joke. Lots of standing around….very boring stuff. At the age I was 34, I was not going to get any better. In fact I was getting worse! So good training was essential. Lots of small sided games, passing drills, shooting drills.

The managements were very sensible with us older pros. We did slightly less training than the younger boys which allowed us to recover quicker. Ian was very good with us in this way. He had suggested that we would not be needed on Mondays for training but given that our results were not anywhere good enough then it was not an option.

We played some great stuff that season without really being too effective. We were great up to the final third but didn’t have the required quality to win enough games. We missed chances at vital times in games and conceded against the run of play too often. I was as guilty of anybody for this. I think I actually played too deep which meant that I was not in the penalty box enough when the ball arrived. Miles Weston was so quick that nobody could keep up with him !!

Myself, Delroy Facey, Sean Canham and Spencer Weir-Daley were the striking options.  The highlight of my season was my hat-trick against Port Vale. It was a day to remember for me. Unfortunately there were not enough days like that for me personally at Notts County.

By February I was starting less matches than ever before. My form was poor so I had no complaints really. Jonathan Forte was brought in and he started scoring immediately. He had the pace that our attack was missing. I remember thinking to myself at around that time that I was getting too old for this. I just wasnt a god as I used to be. age had caught up with me and it was showing. This in turn led to me becoming frustrated with myself which affected my form even further.

From then on I knew that I would not get a new contract. I also knew that this would probably be my last season in pro football.

Unfortunately Notts County didn’t see anywhere near the best of me. At the end of the season was the time when all of the out of contract players learned their fate. The season had been a failure. Our league position was poor. There were times when we flirted with relegation but it never looked like a reality to me. We lost to non-league opposition in The FA Cup to Kettering and the squad was too old. When you have a season like this then not too many players are taken on. Most of the out of contract players were released. Gavin Strachan, Richard Butcher too. I was surprised about Butch because the club were keen to discuss a new deal with him in January before his injury against Kettering.

Ian was very good when I was called in. We were not aware that it was happening but once I got the call I knew the score. He didn’t go around the houses and just told me outright that I was to be released. I replied that I didn’t deserve a new deal after the season I had so it wasn’t a sour encounter like many of these are with other players.

So there it was. Game over…literally. I knew it couldn’t last forever but when it actually happens it took a while to sink in.

C’est  la vie.

Interview with ex-Notts legend Mark Stallard. Your questions please for Mark. 

 

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