Crime and Punishment at the City Ground

There seems to be a draconian feel to security at the City Ground again this season. I’ve been privileged or restless enough to have sampled a number of locations at the City Ground over the last few seasons, and there is definitely a difference in the severity of stewarding in different parts of the ground.

Since the infamous stand-off between the fans and security personnel in the A Block, and the subsequent ban on under 21s from sitting in that section of the ground, it’s been sad to see the club apparently try to kill the post-terrace atmosphere generating portion of the ground. Even now, when the block is rarely full, there is regularly fractious moments between the fans who have the temerity to stand up and the over-zealous yellow jacketed knuckleheads waiting to drag them from the stands causing further conflict for the remaining stewards and supporters.

As the draconian measures imposed in the Main Stand were played out, there was a notable migration of atmosphere heading towards Capital One Corner and the Upper Bridgford, probably partially inspired by the cheaper tickets back in the days of Pinnacle Place. Again, the heinous act of standing up is more often than not what seems to rile our yellow jacketed friends, and gesturing seems to be the new faux pas that will see you get a stern telling off in the concourse. Some of the ejections I’ve witnessed, I’m genuinely mystified as to what act was perpetrated by the confused looking person being shoved down the stairs.

Whilst I accept that the stewards and police are in a tough position, I can’t help but feel there are elements of their behaviour that make situations worse, or sometimes even cause them. At a football match emotions run high, and inevitably fans will stand up, they’ll swear, they might even – heaven forbid – choose to execute a graceful ‘wanker sign’ at the away fans. Does this really warrant such extreme measures? Would public safety actually genuinely suffer if somebody uses their legs for what they are designed for for a couple of minutes?

Of course, football is increasingly becoming a ‘consumer’ industry, and attracts kids and families who ideally shouldn’t really pick up this kind of behaviour for the playground, but it seems to me that there must be a more intelligent and less provocative way of managing this than employing a squad of knuckle-draggers* who frankly often behave with less decorum and politeness than many of the so-called offenders they wade in to deal with. Iit seems that our stewards sit either end of a polarity with the reasonable and ordinary people at one end who are thankfully in the majority, and the kind of blokes who would’ve been recruited for the Hitler Youth movement in 1930s Germany.

One thing that did used to rile me was the apparent discrepency between the treatment of away fans and home fans, I’ve only sat in the Upper Bridgford once this season, but it was interesting to note that the stewards covering the away fans now seem to be just as zealous with our visitors as I’ve seen them with the home fans – particularly the chap so amusingly caricatured in ‘the Stewards’ series of cartoons in the now defunct LTLF fanzine (I think you can still download PDF files of the ‘zine at this link if you never saw it).

I guess when people suggested the two sets of fans be treated the same, they were hoping for the Forest fans to be treated better, not the away fans to be treated worse! But at least if an away fan does a wanker sign at you, you might see ’em get a word from a boy in yellow rather than you feeling compelled to reply in kind and get escorted out… I suppose that’s equality of sorts. The visit of Swansea will be interesting this year, that’s for sure – I might move my ticket to the Bridgford End again to get a better view!

* This element do not represent all the stewards I’ve witnessed, the majority are sound blokes whose job is made tougher by the bone-head minority.

Grant Holt’s a go go, and everything tastes right!

I’ve been dying to use that lyric from ‘Jean Genie’ by David Bowie ever since we signed Agogo, and Colin Calderwood has duly obliged by talking of the playing relationship between the two Forest strikers.  Grant has been our hero of the year, banging in 5 (or 6?) goals so far this campaign that see us sitting uneasily on top of the league.

But Calderwood thinks that the introduction of Agogo’s pace and power will help to get more out of Grant Holt, as well as adding extra competition for places – which is already quite fierce with Lester, Harris, Dobie and in not too long Tyson all pushing for a place up front.

Colin has been delighted with Grant Holt so far, but believes he can improve, and will need to keep putting in 100% to fend off the challenge from our other strikers, who will of course all need to be giving it their all in training or reserve fixtures in order to force their way into contention.  All in all, a pretty healthy position for us to be in up front.

It’s a shame the same can’t be said for our midfield 😦

Commons back in the squad

Kris Commons’ road to recovery took a positive step after a reserve encounter with Leeds last night.  The left-winger played a little over an hour in the fixture, and had a hand in three of the four goals Forest scored on the night.

Certainly his performance impressed Colin Calderwood enough to include Commons in the squad to take the trip up to Tranmere Rovers on saturday, assuming that there is no adverse reaction to his return to action.  This is excellent news, Commons returning to midfield will not only give us his obvious creative talent to take the pressure off Southall, but will give us the left sided balance we’ve been craving, as well as taking pressure from poor Julian Bennett who’s looked very exposed at left back recently.

Fingers crossed he’s fit and raring to go – we will cause sides a lot more problems when they realise they can’t just stick two men on Southall to stifle our creativity!