Manager Kevin Nolan hoping magic of the FA Cup can cast a spell over Notts County this season


Once upon a time the FA Cup final was deemed such an important date in football’s calendar that broadcasters would dedicate a whole day’s coverage to such a grand occasion.

Families would huddle around their televisions and listen intently to the pundits who often spoke glowingly at how the country was lucky to have the greatest cup competition in the world.

Helicopters would follow the team buses to Wembley, and there was a genuine sense it was a magnificent spectacle no matter who was fighting to put ‘old Big Ears’ in their trophy cabinet.

Yet in the last few years, there has been increasing argument to suggest it has lost some of its appeal given the Premier League’s riches are so vast, it’s no longer a priority for England’s biggest clubs.

But there was no such talk at Notts County, who were previous winners themselves when, in 1894, James Logan’s hat-trick eased them to a 4-1 win over Bolton Wanderers.

The FA Cup will always be revered at Meadow Lane and Kevin Nolan spoke with great pride at being given his first taste of the competition as the Magpies’ manager when they host Bristol Rovers on Friday night.

“This will be my first experience of the FA Cup as a manager and I am really looking forward to it,” he said.

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Terry Hawkridge vies for possession with Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Kieran Gibbs during last season’s quarter-final with Lincoln City.

“I still think it has the appeal, although I accept it lost some of its ‘je ne sais quoi’ when Manchester United stepped away from the competition because they were playing in the World Club Championship in Brazil.

“But I think it’s slowly starting to become that prestigious event again and so it should.

“You ask anyone who has been lucky enough to hold the trophy having won it, you just know those memories will last forever.

“When I was growing up everyone used to watch the build-up to the final.

“But I do think the kick-off for the final should be at 3pm and it should also be the main game. There should be no other fixtures being played that day.

“We have got to get that romance back, but I feel its slowly starting to return.”

Lincoln City did their bit in restoring some of the FA Cup’s magic last season when they embarked on an incredible run to the quarter-finals before losing to Arsenal 5-0 at the Emirates.

They were the first non-league team in 103 years to reach that stage conquering Championship sides Ipswich Town and Brighton, before going to Premier League Burnley and beating them on their own patch.

It wasn’t just the nation that had its gaze fixed on the cathedral city, but the world as stories of their succession of giant killings made headlines across the globe.

Notts winger Terry Hawkridge was part of Danny Cowley’s team which wrote itself into the history books.

“If you speak to Terry about what he experienced with Lincoln in reaching the quarter-finals last season, he will tell you about the romance that came with it,” added Nolan.

“The Cowley brothers and their team got a lot of attention and rightly so.

“Not just because of what they were doing in the FA Cup, but also what they were doing in the league.

“It was a snowball effect. It started so small and grew into something gigantic.

“They were able to test themselves against top opposition every couple of weeks and they did a fantastic job there.

“I am sure they will want a bit more of it this year and it’s what we want at Notts County.

“We want to mix it with the big boys, but first we’ve got opposition who are in the league above which will show us how far we’ve come in a short space of time.

“It will be another good test for not just the players, but for the management staff too.

“I am really looking forward to it.”



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