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From The Vault - 03 Oct 1981

I've taken a nostalgic trip back to my youth for this issue of From The Vault and the 2-1 home win over Arsenal back in October 1981.

Frankly there are a number of games I could have chosen from this season, one that saw Notts competing in the top flight again for the first time in 56 years.

But for me this game had a bit of everything, illustrious opposition, leg breaking tackles, penalty claims and a last minute winner and it remains one of my favourite Notts memories.

A crowd of 10,785, including a decent following from North London, took to the terraces for this first division game which saw Notts desperate for a win having just lost 4 games on the bounce. Likewise Arsenal, who fielded a household name in every position, had experienced an indifferent start to their season having won just 2 of their opening 7 games and scoring just 4 goals in the process meaning a second start for new signing John Hawley from Sunderland.

The television cameras were present and the match was one of the three featured games on BBC's Match of the Day with commentator Alan Parry making comment before kick off of empty spaces evident in the meadow lane stands, social distancing at it's best and ahead of it's time maybe?

Despite an even start the visitors slowly grew into the game, eventually taking the lead on 38 minutes with newcomer Hawley netting his first goal for the Gunners.

Notts Captain Pedro Richards gave away a free kick in a dangerous area following a foul on Brian Talbot. Hawley managed to latch onto the resulting kick, looping the ball over a prostate Raddy Avramovic for the only goal of the first half.

John Hawley in action for Arsenal

The second half started much the same as the first ended with Arsenal still on the front foot and they really should have increased their lead on a couple of occasions but for some poor finishing in front of goal.

With just over 15 minutes to go Arsenal decided to bring youngster Brian McDermott on for goal scorer Hawley in what became a game changing moment and must go down as one of the shortest substitution appearances ever.

Just a minute or so after joining the fray McDermott picked the ball up on the right wing only to be scythed down by a bulldozer of a tackle from Notts centre half Brian "Killer" Kilcline, a challenge that would see the referee reach straight for his red card in today's game, but this was the eighties and Killer walked away with a caution.

Brian "Killer" Kilcline in action for Notts County

Unfortunately for Arsenal McDermott was unable to continue and was last seen being carried back to the changing rooms by a couple of St Johns ambulance men meaning the Gunners would have to play the remainder of the game with 10 men.

Brian McDermott of Arsenal after injury at Notts County

Spurred on by this the Magpies started to apply some pressure and were rewarded with an equaliser on 86 minutes.

Iain McCulloch played Mark Goodwin into the Arsenal box only for the Notts midfielder to go down twice from challenges that were clear penalty shouts, the latter coming from Arsenal keeper Pat Jennings who eventually managed to see the ball out for a corner.

Notts' got their reward from the resulting corner with David Hunt able to see the ball over the line at the near post after Goodwin's delivery was flicked on by Trevor Christie.

The Magpies had their tails up and continued to press and with just a minute left on the clock Iain McCulloch won a free kick mid way in the Arsenal half.

Arsenal were caught napping and quick thinking Don Masson wasted no time floating a quickly taken ball into the visitors penalty area where Kilcline rose highest to head the ball into the back of Pat Jennings' net for the winning goal.

The win saw Notts get their season back on track, finishing the campaign in a respectable 15th place with 47 points.

The Magpies recorded 13 wins which included a double over defending league champions Aston Villa, winning 2-0 at the City Ground and an unforgettable goal of the season victory away at title contenders Ipswich Town.

The Magpies were flying high and managed to compete for two more seasons in the top flight before finally succumbing to relegation in 1983/84.

Notts County Squad 1981

Back row: Rachid Harkouk, Trevor Christie, Mick Leonard, Brian Kilcline, Raddy Avramovic, David Hunt, Tristan Benjamin.

Middle row: Garry Wood, Gordon Mair, Pedro Richards, Mark Goodwin, Nigel Worthington, David Beavon, Ray O'Brien.

Front row: Jack Wheeler (Coach), Iain McCulloch, Paul Hooks, Jimmy Sirrel (Manager), Howard Wilkinson (Ass. Manager), Paul Manns, Ian McParland, Mick Walker (Youth Coach).

As always thanks for reading. Please feel free to share your favourite Notts memories in the comments below or with the Notts County Stats social media accounts.

If there is a game you would like featured from yesteryear in this series please let me know and I'll see what I can do.



Credits: Video - Magpie Goals (Youtube) | Match info - Up The Maggies!