David Johnson retiring sparked these thoughts in me, and in particular fans at the City Ground chanting for him during the disappointing draw with Carlisle United yesterday. The diminutive striker has always has his adherents amongst the Forest support, even during his (not insignificant) lean spells with the club. I watched the fans chanting “Stand up, if you love Johnno”, doing a mental sweep of them I’d say demographically they were younger fans.
By my reckoning, people such as myself who are mystified as to their hero worship need to reevaluate our harshness somewhat. Whilst I will never feel that adulation for the likes of Johnson, rather than be incredulous that other supporters may feel that way I’ve started to feel a bit more sorry for them. Perhaps in this age of a new lowly Forest, he is a good candidate for adulation afterall, even if it was on the back of one decent season with us, and in him hardly justifying his exhorbitant transfer fee and wages.
I was brought up hero worshipping players like Stuart Pearce, Steve Hodge and Brian Laws, to list but a few. These were of course part of Clough’s second great side that went to Wembley practically every year in those delicate early stages of my supporting Forest, quite a potent formula for strengthening the decision a young lad makes in supporting a team. When I look at our current squad – and don’t get me wrong, we have players I admire – there really is rather a dearth of that kind of quality. I dread to think how the fans old enough to remember the European Cup winning squad must think on matters like this!
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that some of us are perhaps suffering from a touch of ‘hero snobbery’ – given the time we’ve had over the last half dozen years or so, the most obvious recipient of adulation probably would be a striker who bagged 29 goals that almost got us into the Premiership, regardless of his injury woes or poor form before or since that season.
My random musings are not enough to change my opinion of Johnson, we paid the same for him as we did for Pierre Van Hooijdonk, who admittedly turned out to be a complete arse off the pitch (although in accusing the club of lacking ambition, was he really that far from the mark?). We paid less for the likes of Stan Collymore, who for me still remains the most gifted footballer I’ve ever seen in a Forest shirt – what a shame he didn’t have the mental fortitude to handle the formidible talent he had at his disposal.
The nearest thing I have to an idol in the current Forest squad is Grant Holt, whose 100% battling attitude represents something we’ve seen too little of at the City Ground lately – and at times I’ve been thrilled to see his contribution so far this season (if we ignore yesterday’s penalty miss!). That’s what I hold to be a player worthy of hero worship, a grafter, not an overpriced and overpaid primadonna, who admittedly fulfilled his potential for one season, but who has been wholly disappointing for the vast majority of his Forest career.
Hopefully it will be more along these lines that the collective of Forest fans will select their next ‘hero’ rather than for a one season wonder. That said, I would rather each and every player had a chant and they were all backed fully, which I might have mentioned before!
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