Realistically this article is likely to be on the biased side, seeing as I will always associate Meadow Lane with Pompey securing promotion. However, I can honestly say that Meadow Lane is one of my favourite grounds which I have visited. It is certainly one of the largest grounds at that level with a capacity of just over 20,000, all of which is seated. The attendance for the match I went to was 12,184, including just under four and a half thousand away supporters. The County fans were outsung for large parts of the match, but while they had the upper hand during the match they generated some good noise. Most impressively, in my view, was that a large number of home fans stayed and clapped respectfully while the Portsmouth players and fans celebrated their promotion, so I gained some respect for the way they conducted themselves.
Unusually, the away fans at Meadow Lane are given the Jimmy Sirrel Stand, along one side of the pitch, rather than the usual away allocation of behind one goal. Most away fans are given one half of the stand although, due to the high demand for tickets, Pompey were given the entire stand which, I believe, has a capacity of about 5,500. The fact that the away fans were stretched over such a large distance in the stand made the atmosphere slightly difficult to co-ordinate but there is no obvious way to solve this while still giving a big away allocation. Certainly, I would much rather the away fans be given plenty of space and a generous allocation than have a smaller number packed in behind a goal, so credit has to go to Notts County for being so welcoming and generous to the away fans, especially on such an occasion. The pitch was in relatively good condition on the most part, alth said ugh both goalmouth were a little on the muddy side and looked fairly worn out. However, Pompey fans must take some responsibility for the state of the pitch as it can’t have helped having 4,500 supporters running around on it at full time!
The view from the away stand was completely unobstructed and it was possible to see the whole pitch with no pillars in the way or any reason for people to have to crane their necks. In fact, my seat was almost perfectly level with the halfway line so you couldn’t ask for a better view. The facilities were also very good, with the turnstiles being manned by a person, as well as there being a machine to scan tickets so it was very efficient. My only complaint was that there were only two turnstiles open for the entire away stand and, while this would be fine for most League Two followings, it led to some queues for the Pompey fans. Inside the away section, there were bars at regular intervals which kept everybody happy, and it was also possible to buy traditional football food such as pies inside the ground. The stewards were helpful to away fans when finding their seats, but were rather strict when it came to dealing with inflatables. The stewards also did their best to prevent Pompey fans entering the pitch at full-time but it was always inevitable that the flow visiting fans would find their way through the line of stewards and police, and eventually they just made sure that all the Pompey fans stayed in one area of the field.
The stadium is also very accessible by train, as Nottingham station is just a fifteen minute walk from Meadow Lane. There are also plenty of signs directing people from the station to the ground and vice versa so fans had no problem in navigating their way. As far as the travelling itself is is very easy to get from the South Coast to Nottingham, as all that is needed is to get to London St Pancras – by getting the train to either Victoria or Waterloo and then getting the tube – and then a direct train can be taken from St Pancras to Nottingham, which stops only four times between the stations and also offers a buffet carriage. The only slightly negative thing about transport to the ground is that there is not very much in between the station and the stadium, meaning it is probably best to eat at one of the many burger vans stationed in the neighbouring streets. Certainly, it is easy enough to get there; even on Easter Monday!
On the whole I would have to say that Notts County has been one of my favourite away days. Obviously this has a lot to do with the result, but the ground is genuinely the best I have been to at League Two level. The capacity is far higher than most others and there are very few teams who would be prepared to give up a whole side of their stadium to the visiting supporters. The ground is accessible from the South Coast, and the Notts County fans also did themselves justice considering they have nothing to play for. I would very much like to return to Meadow Lane, hopefully when both Pompey and Notts County are playing at a higher level which, I’m sure, is very possibly judging by the way the club is being run by the chairman.