‘Our start to the season has been staggering’, says Notts County chairman Alan Hardy – Alan Hardy


Saturday will be my first visit to the One Call Stadium as Notts County chairman and, like the fans, I am relishing the derby against Mansfield Town.

We go there in incredible form having beaten Lincoln and Exeter in our last two games, taking us to the summit of League Two.

It’s our best start to a season for 67 years and the credit goes to Kevin Nolan, his staff and the players for what has been a remarkable sequence of results.

At this stage of the season I had expected us to be around the the play-off positions, so to be going into this game as league leaders is absolutely staggering.

What’s pleased me even more is that we have been able to make changes to the team while maintaining our momentum.

It just goes to show the strength in depth we have in the squad and I do believe that competition for places is driving everybody on to be the best they can be.

We’re scoring goals from all positions, which the manager insisted would happen. You have to say, he’s absolutely nailed it.

But as good as the attack has been in recent games, we have kept five clean sheets out of six. That’s testament to the organisation and the will of the players to put their bodies on the line.

Kevin Nolan has led Notts County to the top of the table.

I’ve always maintained that, while goals win games, clean sheets win championships so the team deserves an enormous amount of credit for how solid they have looked.

I’m sure the resolve we have shown in recent weeks will be given a serious examination by Mansfield, who will no doubt try to make it a hostile atmosphere in order to gain an advantage.

These games, by their very nature, are always keenly contested and usually a war of attrition.

If you recall, Kevin’s first match as our manager was against Mansfield, a game in which no quarter was given with clear-cut chances few and far between.

Mansfield have been up and down in terms of their results this season but we know they can beat anybody on their day.

They will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season. They have a big squad and are managed by Steve Evans, who has a proven track record of success.

But, as we showed in our recent performances against Exeter and Lincoln, when we’re on form no team is able to live with our quality.

Before I end this week’s column, I would like to pay tribute to Matt Salmon, the Mansfield physio who tragically passed away in May following a battle with cancer.

He had a spell in the medical department here at Notts and I know he was incredibly well thought of and respected at Mansfield.

We wanted to honour him and both clubs thought a Matt Salmon trophy would be perfect. The winners of Saturday’s game will be awarded the cup post-match.

Matt’s wife and family will be in attendance and I’m very sorry I didn’t have a chance to meet him as I’m told he was a wonderful and much-loved character.



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