Notts this morning confirmed a friendly away to Arnold Town for the second consecutive year – meaning a return to the scene of the near-season ending injury suffered by Jimmy Spencer just 12 months ago.
Predictably, understandably, concerns have been raised by Notts supporters about the return. But what happened to Spencer was a one in a million freak accident that could have happened anywhere on any surface.
Of course, the player in a tangle with Notts’ number nine boasting on Facebook that his actions were deliberate certainly weren’t helpful.
But games like this take place for a number of reasons. Notts’ rusty players get the game time, supporters get to see the new signings up close and personal, most importantly though the local sides we play (such as Carlton Town and Hucknall Rolls Royce) generate revenue through ticket sales. The club has an important role to play for local football in that respect and that’s why we play them every year. This is a good thing, certainly not something to be greeted with derision because it’s not in the least bit glamorous.
At the same time though these games can have a detrimental effect on supporter morale. Last year’s preparations for instance were largely perched between uninspiring and insipid until being signed off in the final game versus Osasuna with a 2-0 victory. However confidence amongst the fan base is at it’s lowest in years on the back of such a dour end to the 2014/15 campaign – follow that into pre-season and the unrest will only grow further.
Whether we learn anything from these games will split opinion. Last season Notts came racing out of the blocks and were as high as third in the table at one time – a predicament you’d have been brave to predict had you sat through a defeat at Halifiax Town last Summer.
These are essentially glorified training sessions that you are charged for the privilege of watching at the end of the day. Despite all that, I still love pre-season. Catching up with friends for the first time in months, a pitchside smoke or a pint of beer, and basically just watching Notts in an altogether very different environment than we’re more accustomed to (for now at least).
Notts play Arnold Town on Wednesday, July 8th at 7.30pm
days before a Saturday game at Hucknall Rolls Royce.