Curle hoping to secure a few more magical FA Cup moments at Meadow Lane
BACK in 1991, Keith Curle was sat in the stands at Meadow Lane to witness a moment all Notts County fans of a certain age will still remember vividly.
On the verge of joining Manchester City in a career-defining move, the then Wimbledon defender's loyalties were of the blue variety, on a freezing Saturday in February.
And he will not have enjoyed seeing Gary Lund sweep home a simple finish, inside the far post, to provide a final twist on a remarkable afternoon of FA Cup football, played out in front of a capacity crowd on the banks of the River Trent.
Lund's late strike was enough to secure a 1-0 win for the Magpies, along with a place in the quarter-finals of the competition, where they were ultimately to lose out 2-1 to Tottenham, following another afternoon of high drama in north London.
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Tonight, the prospect of a second round replay against Rotherham may not hold quite the same allure.
But the prospect of securing more memorable afternoons like the one Curle witnessed two decades ago should be more than enough motivation against the Millers, says the Magpies manager.
"I was sat in the stands watching. I could not believe that result went Notts' way on that day, not given what we saw," he said.
"People were hitting the post, Steve Cherry was making saves – but that is what the cup is about.
"We want to see days like that again, but this time I want to be sat in the home dug out enjoying it.
"That is the beauty of the FA Cup. If we can earn the right to play a team like that again in the competition, you can be certain that we will enjoy it.
"I want to see Meadow Lane packed, without a single seat available in the stands.
"The replay against Rotherham is vital. But, if we can get through that, then you look at the Aldershot game and think to yourself that we can compete in that.
"Beyond that, other sides will have fallen by the wayside, so you have more chance of that big game.
"And there is nothing to say that, if you do get a big team, you can't cause a shock. My first thought, when I saw the draw, was that it was a chance to progress.
"You want to get the big teams, of course you do. But you also want to get as far as you can in the competition.
"As a coach, I don't know if I have been beyond the third or fourth round.
"The ambition is to see the stadium packed to capacity, whether that is because we are playing Manchester United, Arsenal or even Nottingham Forest. I want a match where there are no tickets left to get in here. That is our aspiration in this competition."
Given the quirky nature of Notts' season so far, some might actually question whether their best chance to progress passed them by when they were held to a 1-1 draw at the New York Stadium on December 1.
Unbeaten in 21 games on their travels, the Magpies had conversely gone five games without a win on home soil prior to their recent 1-0 success over Swindon.
But Curle insists self belief is not an issue at Meadow Lane and has urged his players to keep doing what they have been doing in recent times.
"I don't think there is a lack of confidence," he said.
"The performance levels have been very high; the stats and everything else suggest that somebody is soon going to get turned over 2-0, 3-0 or 4-0 at our place very soon. Goals will be coming in abundance. Things will even themselves out eventually.
"But I think this must be a strange season, when it comes to teams' success rates at home. So many teams are losing games at home at the minute.
"We are suited to playing at home, because we play attacking football and do create a lot of chances. We will stick with what we believe."
Curle does concede that Notts are in need of a plan B, when it comes to breaking down sides who come to Meadow Lane with a view to quashing their attacking threat.
"Teams do not come here to play free-flowing, attacking football – because they know we are good at it," he said. "We have been finding it difficult to break down stubborn teams, at times.
"But we will not go away from what we believe is the right way to do things. We will continue to get the ball down and play, but we also need to find a plan B sometimes.
"That will not automatically mean that we start smashing the ball long and hoping somebody gets on the end of it.
"We have people in the team who can open doors for us, even when opposition sides do try to keep things tight.
"There is not an issue with confidence, there is confidence in the dressing room.
"We want people to come here knowing that they will see decent football.
"We have goals in the team and we want people to know we can play a little bit as well.
"We also want to be a side that can go toe to toe with teams when we need to as well."
Tonight, Notts would do well not to underestimate a Rotherham side who are challenging for promotion from League Two.
But, if they can overcome this hurdle, then they will take one step closer to potentially securing a few more memorable moments at Meadow Lane.
"You look at the competition and see things realistically. Are we going to be one of the teams in the final four? It is very unlikely," said Curle.
"Do we have an opportunity to secure a bumper pay day, a game against Manchester United or Arsenal?
"Yes, we have an opportunity to get that far, as long as we stay in the competition. That is our goal.
"We will get what we earn. We need to earn the right to play Aldershot in the third round. Then we need to earn a place in the fourth round."