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Notts County Football Club

Ladies Day

NCFC Ladies Day Poster

Saved for another season! (2011/12)

Good morning,

It's 3.30am on Saturday morning and I can't sleep. I went to bed at half past nine as I was so tired, and I'm sat leaning out of the window on the fifth floor of my hotel in Nottingham. The taxis are running here and there, the Old Bill are wandering round looking for trouble, a few sirens break the silence, but for me, looking out of this window right now as the manager of a football club whose boss stands to lose £1million quid – it's a funny old feeling.

I have to take the pressure off the players, reduce the expectancy, be calm, focused and not think about the big million. Not think about missing out on some matches against some big clubs in League One. My office is already full up and the plans are already in place for League 2 and League 1 – how the hell am I supposed to sleep?!

At half past six, it's back to the window. The street cleaners are out in force and some early birds are on their way to work. It's grey, gloomy and raining. I check once again in my briefcase and go over tactically how to change our formation in case Brighton are cutting us apart. Yes, it's still there as it was 3 ½ hours ago.

Time for some fresh air, so I go for a walk. The paper shop opens at 7am. I buy a couple of papers and sit in Costa Coffee. Calm, on one of those big sofas, massive Cappuccino, open the Sun newspaper and my calmness goes out of the window. A bookmaker has described my team as 'woeful'. I look closer to see if I can get his number, sat in Costa Coffee with my nostrils flaring – stupid idiot. These lads have been superb – they haven't been woeful. Deep breaths. Must stay calm. Don't think of the million.

The swimming pool is open and I've got an old pair of shorts in my bag. I swim a few lengths, sauna and steam up and get back in the pool. It's calm, peaceful, tranquil and soothing until a family turn up with four kids who start bombing in the water. I smile politely and get back into the sauna. It gets really hot. Taking deep breaths, I'm practicing calm, keeping my mind clear and not letting the increased temperature tip me over the edge. I'm sweating big time but this is part of the preparation.


Slip into breakfast, that'll be fruit with yoghurt and cereal. Don't need all that fatty stuff with high stress levels, and must avoid more coffee. I find a quiet seat in the corner and end up having the Full English Monty and three cups of coffee. It's getting closer and closer – what do I do now?

Another hour's kip, dark room, mobile going mad with texts saying 'good luck'. I could go to the ground but decide just to lie on the bed. I flick through the channels, again, and then spend the last 45 minutes before going to the game watching The Only Way Is Essex. I'm sitting there smiling, wondering what the chairman would say. He's got £1million quid riding on this game and here's his manager totally focused on The Only Way Is Essex! I sat there laughing.

Suppose I'd better go to work now. Slip on my jeans, t-shirt and my old Birkenstock Jesus shoes, full of holes. I get down to the ground for half past twelve. It's so funny seeing all the people's faces as I walk in dressed like the two fellas I saw in a bus shelter at half past six this morning!

But it's just a game of football – it's not life and death. I love Shankly, but he got it wrong on that one.

It's Sunday morning and God Bless; we've managed to stay above the line. One reporter after the game asked me how I was going to celebrate. I just smiled – there was no celebration, just a 2 ½ hour drive back home, a takeaway, Match Of The Day, and bed.

This morning the chairman hasn't lost his £1million quid. This morning all the Notts County supporters are relieved and happy that our team is still in League 1. This morning all our players will be exhausted but very happy, relieved and pleased to be League 1 players. This morning I've got to cut the grass, take the dog for a walk and have a day off.

Lastly, on my way home down the M1 last night, I played my messages on my mobile in my car on one of those speakerphone things. On the first message, loads of blokes were shouting:

"We are staying up, say we are staying up!"
"We are staying up, say we are staying up!"
"We are staying up, say we are staying up!"

There were so many messages in my phone and of course there are no names associated with each message, just the numbers. I wondered if my sons, perhaps the chairman, or even one of the Notts County staff had recorded the singing of our supporters after the game. It made me smile. After I had listened to all of the messages I was still curious to find out who had left that particular message on my phone. I pressed a couple of buttons, and I had to take a couple of deep breaths.

The message left on my phone was from all of the Barnet players in the dressing room at Underhill. It was a very special moment.

This game we all love, the tears, anger, frustration, jubilation, hurt, it's crazy really. One bloke stood to lose £1million quid. Managers this morning are waking up under pressure, wondering if they'll still have a job. Players all over the country are waking up wondering if they'll get new contracts, employment, and wages. It is a mad, mad, world but it's days like yesterday, when you're able to make so many people so happy, that make the job so worthwhile.

Best wishes,

Reverend Martin

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