Notts County v Juve in the Champions League? Maybe…
Remember the great Glen Campbell hit of the 1960s “Wichita Lineman” which opens with: “I am a lineman for the county”.
It didn’t take long for wags to change that to: “I am the linesman at Notts County” and I’ve been told that linesman at Meadow Lane have been humming that tune to themselves ever since.
Notts also has the unique distinction of linking Italian giants Juventus, post-war English scoring hero Tommy Lawton and 19th century footballer Harry Cursham, who has scored more goals in the history of the FA Cup than any other player.
But more of that in a moment.
Now fans of Notts, the world’s oldest football league club, have rather more to think about than dwell on their club’s 147 years of under-achievement after hearing some truely astonishing news this week.
For Notts, whose glory days were long, long ago and who finished five places off the bottom of League Two (the fourth division in old money) this season, are about to be taken over by a mega-rich consortium of Middle East businessmen.
They dream of taking them back to the top after decades in the doldrums.
It is an interesting development and shows that it is not just Premier League clubs like Manchester City, Portsmouth and the others attracting overseas owners with millions or billions to invest.
John Armstrong-Holmes, the club’s chairman, says it makes perfect sense to him that overseas investors would want to buy a club and manage it carefully through the divisions rather than by raising debts and paying out millions in interest every year.
Taking the club back to the top might be highly romantic on one hand and appeal to the game’s traditionalists but also shows that perhaps in football, money is ever more increasingly the driving factor for success, even more than talent.
But it wouldn’t be the first time that Notts County have stunned the football world. In November 1947 Lawton, then an England international at the peak of his game, moved from first division Chelsea to third division County for a British record transfer fee of 20,000 pounds ($32,090), helping them win promotion in 1950.
It truely was a sensational transfer at the time.
In the 1880s Cursham could not stop scoring goals for County and his 49 in the FA Cup is a record that has never been beaten.
Meanwhile, Juventus owe their famous black-and-white striped kit to County. Years ago Juve used to play in pink shirts which faded with every wash. An English player at the club had a mate at County who sent him a decent set of black-and-white shirts to use instead. Juve have worn those colours ever since.
Notts County v Juventus in the Champions League come 2015 or 2016? Don’t bet against it. Stranger things have happened in soccer, like County being taken over by a Middle East consortium…
PHOTO: Seen that kit before? Former Juventus midfielder Pavel Nedved celebrates after scoring against Lecce during their Serie A match in Turin May 3, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo