Notts County skipper set to celebrate big 150
NEAL Bishop is ready to celebrate his big 150 for Notts County – all in the club's 150th year too.
The midfielder has enjoyed so many great moments since joining the Magpies from Barnet almost three-and-a-half years ago.
The best of the lot was when they lifted the League Two title in his first season at Meadow Lane.
Bishop was also their Player of the Year and made club captain last year.
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He even scored a famous goal against Manchester City in the FA Cup and swapped shirts with Italian legend Alessandro Del Piero when Notts played Juventus in a special friendly in Turin about 15 months ago.
He is now set to play his 150th league game for the club when they face Leyton Orient in League One at Meadow Lane today – and says it is a proud landmark in his career.
"I'm really proud to play for this club and to be captain, so to get to 150 games is great," he said.
"It's fair to say there have been some interesting times since I came here, a lot of highs and a few lows, and I've enjoyed every minute of it.
"Hopefully there will be a lot more good times to come in the future.
"I certainly want to push on and play as many more games as I can and get us into the Championship – that's the ultimate goal."
Stockton-born Bishop, 31, could well go on and reach the next milestone of 200 league games for the Magpies because he is such a key player and his contract at Meadow Lane is set to be extended for another year, keeping him at the club until at least 2014.
He is one of only two players left from their League Two title-winning team, alongside striker Lee Hughes, so it would be fitting if he could help them complete their rise up the Football League.
Many other players have been left behind by the club's progress from the basement division into League One and to now being contenders for promotion into the Championship under current boss Keith Curle, but not Bishop, who only turned pro in his mid-twenties.
As Notts have improved, he has got better too, and he has shown his best-ever form in black-and-white stripes at times this season, driving the Magpies forward.
"The turnover of players since I've been here has been unbelievable, so it's quite an achievement I'm still here, let alone that I've played so many games," he added.
"A lot of other players have come and gone, but I've managed to play for every manager that has come in and I'm determined to get even better.
"I've always said I'm a late developer.
"I didn't come into the professional game until late and I feel like there is still a lot more to come from me."
Bishop has even added a new attacking dimension to his game this season. He is no longer just a hard man in midfield, but he also gets forward and scores goals.
Having netted only four league goals in his first three seasons at Notts, he has already scored five times in League One so far this season – and two of them were crackers, against MK Dons and Colchester United.
Alongside the likes of Alan Judge and Jeff Hughes, Bishop has been one of the Magpies' best players this year and he thinks they could go on and finish this season on the biggest high possible, by clinching promotion in 2013.
They are in eighth spot ahead of facing Orient, but they have been top this season and have spent most of the campaign in the play-offs, so Bishop believes they are good enough to go on and finish the job.
"It would be great to lead the club into the Championship and it's massively achievable this season," he said.
"We're only six points off the top in the league and that's after a couple of bad results.
"There is a still a hell of a lot to play for this season.
"We were down in League Two when I came here so it would be great to complete the journey by getting into the Championship and I think we can do it, I really do.
"We've got the best squad we've had while I've been here and we're all pushing for the same thing – promotion."