By Patrick O’Connor
I live about 20 minutes walk away from Meadow Lane, the home of League One side Notts County, who also happen to be the world’s oldest football club.
They are a modest operation, their last home game attracted a crowd of just under 5,000.
Occasionally when my own team is not playing I pop down to watch Notts.It is a friendly, homely club, the football may not be brilliant but manager Martin Allen has put together a bunch of honest professionals who try to do their best.
For most of their history, Notts have played in the lower leagues but have had several short spells in the top tier, the last in 1991-92,
But next month Notts are going to find themselves up against one of the European giants, the mighty Italian side Juventus.
They have been invited to play the Turin club on September 8 in a match to mark the opening of Juve’s brand new 41,000 seater stadium.
So how come tiny Notts get the invite rather than other teams from Juve’s peer group such as Barcelona, Real Madrid or Manchester United.
Well it seems that for the Italians, history is important. The link between the two clubs goes way back to 1903 when Juventus changed their shirts from pink to the black and white stripes worn by Notts County.
Apparently an Englishman, John Savage, who was playing for Juventus, arranged for replacement shirts to be sent to Italy by a friend back in England who was a Notts County fan and the Italians have worn the black and stripes Notts County traditionally play in ever since.
Notts County chairman Ray Trew told the club website: “It will be a fantastic night for everyone associated with this great football club – the players, the staff and of course the fans.”
Notts County manager Allen also has been in the news with a special appeal to help improve his team’s chances – he wants to be taught to whistle properly!
Allen said: “I am desperately trying to find somebody that can teach me to whistle.This may sound like a joke but I can assure you it’s not. This is not for my dog, this is for me to whistle from my technical area.”
New technology continues to make its mark in football and last Friday saw an FA Cup match shown live on Facebook.
Non-league sides Ascot United and Wembley FC met in an extra preliminary round game on Friday and the Facebook coverage gave them a potential audience of 700 million!
The 90 minute stream was funded by the FA Cup’s news sponsors Budweiser whose marketing director Ian Newell said: “This is the first time an FA Cup tournament fixture has been broadcast live on the social network, which is great news for football fans and clubs alike.” Wembley won the game 2-1.
Unless you have a heart of stone (or are a Manchester United/Manchester City/Chelsea/Liverpool fan) then you would have felt a pang of sympathy at the sight of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger rubbing his rain-soaked hair in desperation as his side lost 2-0 at home to Liverpool.
I love watching Arsenal play, their adherence to stylish, flowing, possession football even if some of their young players do occasionally get over-enthusiastic leading to a red card.
The Arsenal philosophy as set down by Wenger is one the game should be proud of but the Frenchman now seems to be swimming against the tide.
His reluctance to squander millions on players purely for the sake of it – as demonstrated by Chelsea and Manchester City – may eventually cost him his job.
The Arsenal fans are getting restless and Wenger’s squad has been ravaged by injuries and envious glances from football’s big spenders.
The big question now is can he once again mould a fresh side into becoming title contenders or is his era coming to an end?