Even a writer as accomplished as Billy Ivory couldn't have come up with the tale of intrigue and drama that has made up the last few years for Notts County.

From the promises untold wealth and the arrival of Sven-Goran Eriksson and Sol Campbell to the threat of administration and worse; record-breaking promotion then avoiding relegation on the last day of the season; to six managers in two seasons and now the stability and progress under Martin Allen - there's rarely been a dull moment at Meadow Lane.

Billy, a lifelong Magpie who hails from nearby Southwell, is the writer behind popular TV shows like Made in Dagenham and Common as Muck but the tale of Notts would have been one too far - though he almost got the chance.

"The bizarre thing about all of that was when it died down, I had a couple of approaches from people wanting to see if there was a stage play in it because it was so crazy," he explained to football-league.co.uk.

"I was thrilled when suddenly we had got what seemed to be all this money to go out and buy players.

"Having said about the way Notts is, we get players who are very loyal and stay for a long time, sometimes the boot is on the other foot.

"You hope that the players you have brought on with hard work will get you through or you put down a load of wonga and buy people to get you through the leagues.

"I met Sven a couple of times, he was a really nice guy, and I said to him 'so how does this work?'

"He said 'you buy people who are better than the players in this league to get you to the next league, then it goes on like that, as long as the money is there'.

"I think we all thought the sky was going to be the limit.

"Still to this day I am not 100 per cent certain, having met and interviewed most of the main protagonists in the drama, what happened to who and when but what I do know for sure is that we are now in a better place than we were.

"If that bubble was going to burst, thank goodness Ray Trew was around and was able to steady the ship as it would have been awful if everything had really imploded and the club had gone down the pan.

"At that stage it was absolutely horrible but here we are now and it seems to me that the current owners are really sensible.

"They are doing things the proper way that are sustainable for the future."

Formed in 1862, Notts County are accepted as the world's oldest Football League Club and in 2012 they become the first professional club to celebrate their 150th anniversary.

An entire year of gala events will take place to mark the historic occasion, including a stage play that Billy is putting together based around a book by one of the club's former players. David McVay is a footballer turned journalist who in 2003 wrote Steak...Diana Ross - Diary of a Football Nobody.

Billy wrote the foreword for the book and is now delighted to have the chance to create a play about the Magpies at long last.

"It is a bit co-incidental as I have been wanting to write something about the club for a while and I've been trying to find the right vehicle," Billy explained.

"David wrote the book and I was trying to get it as a TV piece but that wasn't going to happen so I put it away for a while.

"When all the 150 celebrations were coming up again I thought there might be an opportunity.

"I have written a couple of stage plays in the mean-time so I went to the Nottingham Playhouse to ask about doing a version of it for the stage, to tie in with the celebrations at Notts.

"I also spoke to Jim Rodwell [the Magpies' Chief Executive] to ask what he thought and he said it would be a no-brainer.

"It is a wonderful book and the period it concentrates on [the middle years of the 1970s], which is what I want to do with the play, is when footballers were still adored and looked up to but were much more of the people, without having the crazy wages.

"Within seven or eight years of the last section of the book you were getting the explosion of football and there was more money coming in and a lot of the really big clubs were able to pull away.

"I think it is a very interesting time and from my point of view it allows me to write about a lot of the players I watched and admired when I was younger - guys like Les Bradd, Don Masson, Brian Stubbs and Jimmy Sirrel.

"It will be on in the Nottingham Playhouse next October so I've just got to get it written!"

The big challenge will be to translate life as a footballer - and the football itself - on to the stage.

"There are two main challenges really," Billy continued. "For one, it's a very big cast of characters and on stage you can't have a cast of thousands so it's about picking out who to focus on.

"Also, a big part of it is football so how do you put that on stage? We've all seen the films that are about football and they don't quite capture it.

"I went to the League Cup game at Forest earlier this season, which was one of the most exciting games of football I've ever seen, and at the end as it went to penalties I thought to myself 'this is why we go to football matches'.

"You can't capture that really so I have to try and represent it in a different way.

"I'm a screen-writer more than a play-writer so it is a bit of a departure for me, but I have done a couple now and I have one touring so I am finding my feet.

"The issue is will anyone other than County fans see it? I am certainly hoping Forest fans will come and see it as they will know the characters and people being talked about.

"Beyond that, what I am going to do is try and create a period of history in the city - what it was like then, what people were wearing and listening to, and hopefully evoke people's memories of a period of time.

"The intention is for it to be interesting to anyone, whether you love Notts or not."

That point about a love of Notts is certainly something that applies to Billy, who at the age of 48 has been watching the club for four decades.

Billy views Notts County as a club for the people because of their core of support that never goes away regardless of how things are going.

The supporters, he says, are as passionate about the Magpies as any you will find in the country and he describes their backing as showing the characteristics of Nottingham people.

And Billy can definitely be classed as one of those supporters having grown up on the terraces of Meadow Lane and these days he rarely misses a home game where he sits in the stands with his two daughters.

He first started watching Notts in the early 1970s when going to games with his cousin during the era of Les Bradd, Don Masson, Jimmy Sirrel and other great names.

But watching Notts isn't just about the football for Billy - it's also about the characters and the environment, as some of his strongest memories go to show.

"I can recall one of my earliest memories of Meadow Lane was that the toilets in the County Road Stand were so grim!" he laughs.

"I think at one stage there was just some sand down, and a wall, and I think they just turned the sand over every now and then.

"I can remember, when it was all standing, people making room for you and all the young kids so you could go down to the front like you were being passed forward.

"There also used to be a group of ladies, in the 1980s this was, and they would stand in front of me and my mate and bring their flask to every game.

"They were very friendly and then when the game would start they would be swearing like troopers!

"At half-time they would offer you a cup of their drink, then the second half would start and they would kick off again, the air turned blue!"

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