Hundreds of fans gathered to see a statue of Notts County legends Jimmy Sirrel and Jack Wheeler unveiled at the club's Meadow Lane home. The memorial, situated between the Derek Pavis Stand and the Trent Navigation Inn pub, was revealed to about 200 supporters at 12pm on Thursday.
The duo – who propelled the Magpies from the old fourth division to the English top flight – were immortalized in bronze after a campaign taking nearly seven years.
The monument, designed by sculptor Andrew Edwards, depicts former manager Sirrel and trainer Wheeler sitting on a bench in a dugout.
Wheeler's son, John, and Sirrel's son and daughter David and Audrey joined their fathers on the bench at the ceremony. John, 64, who lives in Oxfordshire, said: "I've followed this journey since the idea was first brought up and to see it develop over the years has been astonishing.
"My father would be proud and humbled. He was a very modest man, and if he saw this he would say he was just one person in a huge team."
Sirrel was manager and Wheeler his assistant, when Notts won the Division Four title in 1971 and finished runners-up in Division Three in 1973 and Division Two in 1981.
Fundraising has included events and donations by fans, businesses and Sirrel's friend Sir Alex Ferguson, while 1,400 fans have also paid to have their name on the plinth. Retired Alan Nice went to watch his first Notts game on October 5, 1957 and got to witness Sirrel, who was manager from 1969 to 1975 and again from 1978 to 1987, and Wheeler, who was caretaker manager between 1957 and 1983, work together. The 71-year-old, of Toton, said: "This statue is a way to recognize two great individuals who did a lot for the club. They are well-respected and they picked us up and got us through many promotions.
Sculptor Mr Edwards, who was behind the Brian Clough and Peter Taylor memorial outside Derby County's iPro Stadium, said he is sad to let the statue go – but will visit it and keep up its maintenance on a regular basis. He said,
"I am overjoyed that people have achieved something of such quality in a time when people don't have much money. It shows that public art is a team game.
"It's a reminder that people can do what they want to if they come together as a community."
click the image below for the video of the unveiling
Legends of The Lane
If there is one name synonymous with success at Notts County it is Jimmy Sirrel. The Scot is considered the greatest manager in the history of the World’s Oldest League club, leading them from the basement division to the top flight during his spells at the club. Jimmy grew up in Bridgeton, Glasgow amidst the razor gangs and ‘malky’s’ of that time. He said that he could never see any point in getting mixed up in that business and stayed well clear of the religious problems in the city as a young man.
During the war, Jimmy went to sea and came back to begin his professional football career being offered contracts by Rangers and Arsenal as well as Celtic. Progressing into management, Jimmy took over County in1969. He quickly turned the side into a hard working, tough to beat team with players like Don Masson and Les Bradd and in his second season at the club Jimmy’s team won the Fourth Division title in storming fashion, remaining unbeaten at Meadow Lane and conceding just 36 goals. After just missing out on a second successive promotion, the following season, the 72-73 season saw Notts move their way up to the second tier after a second half to the season which saw them lose just twice. Sirrel left to take charge at Sheffield United. but after just two years he returned to Meadow Lane leading County to secure a return to the top flight of English football. In 1993 Meadow Lane was redeveloped and Sirrel’s accomplishments were honoured when the County Road stand was renamed the Jimmy Sirrel Stand in his honour. Jimmy Sirrel died, aged 86, on September 25 2008, Sirrel was laid to rest on October 7th 2008, his funeral attended by some of the biggest figures in football including Sir Alex Ferguson and Howard Wilkinson.
To many people Jack Wheeler is “Mr Notts County”, the former goalkeeper, born William John Wheeler, came to Meadow Lane in 1957 and worked in various capacity at the club until arthritis of the hip forced his retirement in 1983.During that time Wheeler never missed a first-team match, attending 1,152 consecutive games. Wheeler filled a range of roles including trainer, coach, caretaker manager and scout and many people will comment on Sirrel and his magic sponge, reference to the old bucket and sponge treatment used for injured players back during Wheeler’s time at the club. In recognition of Wheeler’s services to the club he was awarded lifetime membership and a permanent seat in the Meadow Lane Director’s box, the Meadow Club was also named Wheeler’s Bar in his honour until the summer of 2010 when the venue was renamed the MLSB. One of the clubs banqueting suites is now named in Wheeler's honour. Jack Wheeler passed away on 10 January 2009 at the age of 89.