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FL125: It's just not cricket

2 August 2013

By Tony Leighton

The world's oldest League club are set to step out on to the world's oldest professional ground as Notts County kick-off The Football League's 125th Anniversary with a Friday evening visit to Sheffield United's Bramall Lane.

The ground was opened in 1855, 33 years before The League's first season, and was originally used for cricket - and it was still a major cricketing venue when Notts County's record goalscorer Les Bradd was in his pomp.

Bradd, who these days works as an ambassador for County and also spends a couple of days a week in the club's commercial department, hit 137 goals in 11 years at Meadow Lane before leaving as a Magpies legend in 1978.

As he looked ahead to his beloved team's start to the new campaign on a ground he knows well, the now 65-year-old former striker told football-league.co.uk: "I think it's a great way to start The League's Anniversary.

"I always felt the club's history when I was a Notts player and I really enjoyed the celebrations of our 150th anniversary last year, when I was quite heavily involved through my work for the club's Former Players' Association.

"Most of us old 'uns will have played at Bramall Lane, which back in the 1960s and early 70s was still used for cricket as well as football - and quite an experience it was as a footballer who wasn't used to the ground.

"When you walked out of the tunnel you saw the wide expanse of the cricket pitch and the pavilion beyond it, and if the ball went out of play on that side of the ground you could have a 100-yard run to get it back.

"I was involved in some terrific games there, though, playing against the likes of Tony Currie, Alan Birchenall and Alan Woodward at a time when we were working our through the League from the bottom division to the second."

Bradd was a key figure as County rose to Championship level, the club subsequently attaining top flight status during the 1980's though in recent years they have been lodged in The League's lower divisions.

They were promoted from the basement division in 2010, however, and following the February appointment of Chris Kiwomya as manager hopes are high that a concerted effort can be made to reach the Sky Bet Championship.

Bradd said: "Chris is going to be a good manager and he's got an excellent backroom team, including my old mate Mick Jones who played here and who's also got some great management experience as assistant to Neil Warnock.

"Some good signing have been made in the summer and we've looked good in pre-season, so although it's going to be a tough division with the likes of Wolves and Bristol City involved I think we'll be able to compete with anybody."

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