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Official Review by Robert Pryce, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Notts County play at Meadow Lane Stadium and have done so since 1910. The stadium has a capacity of 19,841 although the average gate is much lower than that, especially now as the club are in League 2 after relegation following the 2015 season.
The Magpies are the oldest football club in the world playing at a professional level, they were founded in 1862. They are one of the founding members of the football league in 1888 along with 11 other clubs. That year they finished 11th. They achieved their highest position of 3rd in 1901. The club has had a few spells in the top division of English football, most recently in 1991–92, when County played in the old First Division.
Famously, the Italian and world footballing giants Juventus got their team colours from Notts County and in 2011 to mark the opening of their new stadium, Juventus Stadium, in Turin they invited Notts County to play the opening match.
Meadow Lane was redeveloped in the early 1990s after many of the stands were below safety standards which were introduced after the Hillsborough and Valley Parade disasters. The Meadow Lane End, County Road Stand and Spion Kop were all demolished in the 1992 off season and replaced with the Family Stand, the Jimmy Sirrel Stand and the Spion Kop Stand respectively. The Main Stand was replaced during the off season of 1994 by the Derek Pavis Stand.
Meadow Lane has a tumultuous history which has resulted in many restorations of the years. It was bombed during World War II leaving the main stand and pitch badly damaged. Also, a fire in 1968 destroyed the main stand.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The food and drinks available in the concession stands are your standard offerings for lower league football grounds. There is not much variety and nothing too good in the taste category. Hot dogs and burgers will set you back £3.40, pies are £2.80 and crisps are £1.10. For beverages, you can get hot drinks for £1.80, soft drinks for £2.10, lager, ale, cider and other alcoholic drinks are £3.30.
The atmosphere is fairly average for a football crowd in England. Meadow Lane has good views with steep stands. It only has a couple of places with support beams restricting views so overall a good place to watch a football match. It has a clear sound system so you can hear any notices, as well as a small electronic scoreboard.
Nottingham is a city in the East Midlands, known for many things including being the home of Robin Hood. Meadow Lane is located just behind the train station making it easy to get too. It is also only three hundred yards away from Nottingham Forest's stadium the City Ground making them the closest football stadiums in England.
There are plenty of places to visit to eat and drink within Nottingham as it's an easy city to walk around. A popular pub to visit is called the 'Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem' and claims to be the oldest pub in England. The Navigation Inn is also another good place to visit pre or post game with a great menu and situated across the road from the stadium.
There is also the Meadow Lane Sports Bar located across from the family stand which is open two hours before kickoff as well as half time. It has a friendly atmosphere and is full of fans.
If you are staying longer in Nottingham, then there are many concert venues like Rock City as well as museums, Nottingham Castle, and plenty of other sports to catch including Ice Hockey and Cricket.
Even with a large ground and small crowds there is plenty of noise made by supporters, and the stadium holds it in well. However the chants and noise usually only occur when something big or controversial happens. The fans are passionate about their team, especially as they are the smaller of the two football teams in Nottingham. They are proud of their history of being the oldest football team in the world. They have a low average attendance compared with the stadium size, however it is still one of the higher averages in League 2.
Meadow Lane is easy to reach and navigate once inside. Everything is clearly sign posted and there are stewards on hand to help. The stadium is located just behind the train station and is only a 15 minute walk from the Nottingham city centre. There are regular bus routes which pass by the stadium if one needs to travel via public transport. The city's new tram lines also take you to the stadium for £2.
Matchday parking is available for a small fee at the Old Cattle Market directly behind the away turnstiles. There is also parking available where the coaches park, on Meadow Lane.
Tickets are sent by post and can be ordered off the internet or picked up at the club's box office. Tickets are checked at the turnstiles by stewards, where queues are minimal.
The stadium concourse is wide and easily navigated. There are plenty of disabled access points as well. The stadium stairs are steep and quite narrow, but with small average attendances the flow of people is not a problem. Toilet facilities are clean and large with minimal queues, and there are plenty of them.
Ticket prices for the level of football on offer are quite expensive compared to European prices, although costs for seniors and children are a good value. Prices for adults are between £22 and £24, while for seniors and 18-21 year olds the cost is £15 and for the under 18s it is £6.
The programme is £3 and food and drink prices are at an average level. Hospitality packages are available from £65 and sometimes are reduced for certain games, so it is always worth keeping a look out. This includes premium seating, a ticket for the game and a three course meal.
The programme is of good quality and there is a club shop selling standard Notts County merchandise. The sports bar is located opposite the family stand and is open to ticket holders at half time. There is a handy first time visitor guide on the club's website as well.
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Nottingham, England NG1 6AD
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8 Talbot St
Nottingham, England NG1 5GG
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