Blackpool up, Derby preparing for kickoff, and hibernation..

Well firstly congratulations should go to Blackpool, who overcame our defeaters Yeovil at Wembley yesterday.  I know a few of you awoke with a pang of “what might have been”, for me I’d planned plenty of tasks to fill the weekened I had tentatively set aside and so plum forgot where I might have been had results and performances been different!  Commiserations to Yeovil, I must admit since our encounter, despite the pain, developed a bit of a soft spot for the Glovers.

I had remembered, thanks to a friend’s text from London, that the molesters of farmyard staples are currently ensconced within the national stadium.  As such, after submitting this story I’ll be retreating offline with a book somewhere – I’ve no desire to see it, and if I was sat online I’d only end up tracking the game progress.  I heard Graham Poll was refereeing so hopefully his inevitable idiocy and buffoonery will be at Derby rather than West Brom’s expense – although I must admit giving our own failure to attain promotion there’s not so much at stake today really.

And finally hibernation – that’s the state this site will probably find itself over the close season.  Of course, should any significant news stories break then I’ll be commenting upon them, but frankly I can’t be arsed to try to keep track of the numerous rumours and stories that will surface over coming days, weeks and months – so if I hear anything I believe, or if there is news confirmed then I’ll update – otherwise there’ll be very little going on around here – I might break out the remainder of the ‘Forest-inspired music’ series… or perhaps not! 😆

Blades, Best and Grant confusion..

The first friendly announcement has been made, and it’s our old friends Sheffield United.  Of course, it remains to be seen whether the same vitriol will be there now Neil Warnock has stepped aside to be replaced by Bryan Robson.  It’s an odd choice given the frequent ill-feeling between the two sets of fans, and naturally despite recent relegation the Blades fans still very much have the bragging rights over lowly us.  I wonder whether it was a Capital One inspired idea, since they sponsor both clubs?

The game will take place at Brammall Lane on 4th August (a Saturday), and since it’s a pretty easy trip up the M1 it could be quite an entertaining day out, with delightfully witty banter about the miners’ strike sure to make an appearance (sic).

The other couple of bits and pieces are continued reports linking us with Southampton striker Leon Best.  Best is a Nottingham lad, and it will amuse Derby fans no end if we were to sign him given his shambolic performance in the Saints’s playoff date with the sheep botherers, and he seems to divide opinion amongst the Forest support as far as I can tell.  I’ve not really seen enough of him to have an informed opinion about his relative merits or otherwise.  Certainly he banged in plenty of goals for Yeovil whilst on loan – but that said, they have a creative midfield!

And for one potential outgoing comes a potential outgoing – there’s mixed reports about Grant Holt, some sources are suggesting a move to Carlisle is all but done, whilst others quote their manager as not wanting to sign ‘just anyone’, and another still suggests they’ve had a bid rejected for him!  So who knows what the hell is happening there?  The body language of Smoulds gives the impression he wouldn’t be sorry to lose Grant, and of course if there’s anything in the Best rumours there’s a ready made replacement being lined up.

Common sense prevails and season ticket prices are reduced..

Season ticket prices are finally here, well, they were here earlier today when I was otherwise engaged – but thankfully the powers that be have seen sense and reduced the prices, varying from around 5-10% compared to the prices last season.  Of course, I’m pretty sure that the price increase last season was considerably more than this for most areas, so we’re still paying more that we were when we first entered this league, and indeed the Championship before that, but it’s certainly a positive step in the first direction.

So just as I’m always ready to be critical of official decisions the club makes that are wrong, I think congratulations are in order for this one.  As I allude above, it is a matter of common sense, but with our current regime that’s not always something we have been able to take for granted, so it is welcome common sense!  Those fans who spoke of renewing only if a discount was offered may well be appeased, and hopefully some of the “I’m definitely not renewing!” types will be swayed a little more to ensure we continue to enjoy a fantastic average gate for this level.

I’m not falling over myself to suggest that this decision was made for our benefit solely, I’m sure the club have been gauging the mood of fans on message boards or phone-ins and have rapidly come to the rather obvious conclusion that some kind of gesture and incentive to win back favour with us.  It will, however, be very disappointed if I’m not similarly pleased with our activities in the transfer market and our performance levels next season.

Another Holt exit taken for Granted?

 

No sooner has Gary Holt been released, it emerges today that top scorer and player of the year Grant Holt could be heading in the same direction – although in this case obviously he would command a fee.  It’s been a bitter-sweet season for Grant, he was often dropped or substituted by Smoulds, and even nearly sold at one point, but has probably – thanks to injuries to other strikers – made most appearances up front this season for Forest.

I’m a big fan of Grant.  He’s a bustling and niggly ‘old fashioned’ striker and he’s delivered the goods in a difficult season with practically bugger all service for large periods when we seemed to not have a midfield.  However, and there’s always a however, one thing I would hold against him is his attitude on the pitch – particularly towards the match officials, he really needs to nip that in the bud in my opinion.

My gut instinct suggests that Smoulds is prepared to let him leave, and I suspect Grant will take up the offer as I don’t think the manager will offer him the assurances he seeks about his future with the club.  Carlisle are reportedly ready to make another move for him, and I imagine the move would appeal to Holt assuming they can meet his wage demands – since it’s the area where he’s from.

One thing massively in his favour was his decision not to leave for Bristol City earlier in the season – he could have gone, Forest were ready to sanction it, but he stayed and fought for his place in the side, and even now despite uncertainty clouding his Forest future, he doesn’t claim to regret that decision.  It’s understandable he’s built a solid relationship with the fans, and I’m sure like me most would be sad to see him leave – particularly if, as is a very realistic fear, he is not replaced with quality.

If you are to move on, Grant – then thank you sincerely for your hard work and effort, we’ve had some good moments to celebrate with Grant in a relatively short time with the club.  And if he is to move on Smoulds, I hope you’re not expecting Dobie to weigh in with the same number of goals next season in his place.

Forest-inspired music: part fifteen

I feel robbed and cheated of what was supposed to be the crowning glory of this particular avenue of blog posts.  This was the triumphant song that I was going to post to aid our celebrating the build up of a trip to Wembley, as such, it is now posted with bitterness and disappointment given that we managed to implode and miss out on such an opportunity.

It’s by a band who are still active, I believe – called Resistance 77 – and was recorded to commemorate our Littlewoods Cup final appearance in 1990, partially suggested by Stuart Pearce who being a bit of a punk himself had been to a few gigs by the band.  The single sold around 2,000 copies apparently, which is pretty impressive given the probably limited market for Forest-inspired punk music at the start of the 90’s!

It makes frequent mentions of the current team of the time, as well as regular returns to the theme of Wembley, which of course was the venue for said final.  It’s undoubtedly cheesy, because all football songs are, but I really like it nonetheless.  Certainly it epitomises the time when I personally fell in love with Forest and I suppose if I had to have an ‘our song’ for me and Nottingham Forest, then this would be it.  It’s simply called You Reds!, and it rocks!

Is Krissy on his way?

Word on the street (well, okay, words on the forums) and indeed in the gutter press are starting to hint that the ‘significant offer’ we made to Kris Commons is not sufficient to keep the midfielder with us next season.  Now, it’s worth noting at this point, that just as Gillingham have recently with Matty Jarvis, it’s important Forest show a strong intention to keep the player as if he goes on a ‘free’, we are still entitled to compensation due to his age.  Not that it will be a great deal.

There’s a myriad of clubs interested in him, Birmingham and Palace have been linked before, whether or not Kris will cut the mustard in the Premiership is questionable, given his inconsistency at this level – but certainly when properly motivated he could easily thrive in the Championship.  Here both Burnley and Stoke are apparently interested – which is interesting, considering he came to us from Stoke in the first place!

Kris is undoubtedly a talent, and will pull goals out of the top drawer fairly regularly as well as occasionally delivering a deadly set piece, but over the course of the season he’s proven more of a luxury than a necessity.  He is injury prone, he is inconsistent and he often looks slightly over-weight.  Whilst I would most certainly be sorry to see him leave, I don’t think it would be a disaster (assuming this time Smoulds actually acquires a replacement!).

Mark Arthur is quoted in today’s Post as saying that Forest have now made an improved and final offer to him, but all the signs suggest it won’t be enough for him and he’ll be off.  If so, good luck Kris, it’s occasionally been a pleasure to watch you over the last few seasons – and more frequently been a frustration, but it would be a shame for you to let your talent go to waste.

Forest issue their retain list..

Unsurprisingly the axe has fallen at the City Ground, of course, many of the people still ranting and raving around the message boards would prefer if it fell on, rather than being swung by, Smoulderwood – but by releasing nine players (admittedly, not all first team regulars) he’s certainly showing that changes are most certainly afoot in the playing staff for next season, which can be no bad thing.  Let’s consider them individually.

Jack Lester – his second spell with the club comes to an end, and really he’s the only one I’m a little sad to see leave.  It’s true Jack has a history of playing well when contracts are up for renewal, but nonetheless, he’s an intelligent forward and caused more problems than most of our team for opponents defences.  Of course, on the flip side he’s quite petulant and is often considered part of the ‘drinking culture’ that dogged the club not that long ago.  I certainly wish him well whereever he ends up.

John Curtis – never spectacular, not often awful.  He was steady for most of the season, in the latter half when we had no width on the right of midfield he often looked painfully exposed, not least during the playoff games.  I have valued his contribution at times, but he’s not somebody I think will be too difficult to replace.  I hope that Smoulds doesn’t shoehorn Chambers into rightback as he’s much better in the middle.

Gary Holt – I was half expecting to see some kind of street carnival in the streets of Nottingham because he’s on his way.  He was many fan’s favourite scapegoat – but he was never as bad as many suggested.  He was a scrappy and combatative midfielder – but that was his job, and most fans don’t seem to notice or appreciate “the ugly stuff” – they didn’t when John McGovern did it either (not that Gary is of that standard, of course!).  It’s the right time to move on for him though.

John Thompson – the oh so nearly man.  At times he’s looked excellent at rightback, centreback and defence – at other times utterly out of his depth.  Another one of the alleged ‘big drinkers’ he certainly can’t say that Forest haven’t given him the chance to establish himself in the squad over the years under several managers – and he’s never quite cut the mustard.

Rune Pedersen – I think he has the makings of a decent keeper.  He was in goal for a lot of the run that saw Charlie & Frank almost take us to the playoffs in 2005/2006, but never really got a look in at the first team with Gerrard and then Smith arriving.  It’s understandable he’s moving on for his own sake, although it does leave us short on experienced goalkeepers!

Nicky Eaden, Kevin James – neither were any kop when they made it into the first team, very fleetingly in James’s case.  I was shocked to read a suggestion somewhere that James was amongst the highest earners at the club – thanks a lot Joe!  Eaden I am sure has a decent player in him somewhere, but after his blind acceptance of Megson’s “hoof it anywhere!” instructions he was never ever going to win around us Forest fans.

Robert Hughes, Vincent Fernandez – always a shame to see youngsters with promise not quite make it.  Hughes made fleeting appearances in the first team and looked eager, but was quickly overshadowed by the emergence of Lewis McGugan from the academy.  Fernandez too came highly rated and looked like he might break into the side, but with the signing of Chambers and Bencherif making an impression in the reserves I guess his opportunities would have been limited.

This came alongside the news that Forest have offered a three year contract to Commons that was a ‘significant improvement’ on their last offer – certainly if we want to get a fee if Commons were to leave, we need to have shown a desire to keep him, I’m not convinced he won’t move on elsewhere – but obviously when properly motivated and fit he’s a great player to have in this league.  Youngsters Alan Power and Dale Roberts have also been offered deals.

Most surprisingly was Spencer Weir-Daley – the perpetual nearly man – has also been offered a new deal.  He’s spent most of this season out on loan, and many thought the 21 year old would be on his way in the summer, but clearly he’s done something to impress the powers-that-be and will have another chance should he choose to sign up.  Certainly he looked promising down at Yeovil, but compared to the general performance levels there, I dare say I would have done do had I made a shock substitute appearance!

A few bits and pieces about the site..

Firstly, you might have noticed a new banner atop the site – thanks to Peter Collison for letting me pinch the very same picture he uses on his site, arf! The thinking behind it is a couple of things, firstly, I wanted to remove any images of players – the last banner had Kris Commons (admittedly beheaded) on the right hand side, the black armband he was wearing meant he was often mistaken for Breckin! I tried to think of what made me proud of being a Forest fan, and thus chose to feature only fans in the picture, and the ground.

I was half tempted to go back down a historical route that I’ve done before, but I also wanted the banner to be at least an implication of some positivity about the future. Whilst I don’t have a massive amount of faith in this being true necessarily, I have decided since I know I’ll buy my season ticket in the vain hope my cynicism is misplaced, I might as well carry on this venture too – I did so originally with a delirious hope that I was to witness the dawning of a new era, how ironic that instead I’ve spent a season documenting the dawning of our worst ever era of football! I suppose that in itself has proven interesting, albeit in a macabre sense.

So this post is designed to herald a fresh start and and a look to the future – be it positive or negative – for Through the seasons before us, apologies in advance to those who clicked from news feeds and find nothing but self-indulgence (I did try to make it clear from the headline), but I have no control about which stories are and aren’t syndicated elsewhere. For those of you who’ve regularly commented and emailed throughout the season, my heartfelt thanks – it’s been an interesting time, hopefully together we can look forward to commenting on better times ahead.

Oh yes, and with the overwhelming total of 35 signatures, I’ve made the executive decision that ‘the Wednesday night campaign’ appears to have insufficient support to really prove likely to yield any fruit!  Whilst a limited number of us seem to feel fairly strongly about it, it would seem that the passive majority don’t really see much difference between a Wednesday or Tuesday night game – I’ll leave the petition online, but I can’t see a sudden upsurge in interest somehow!

Season ticket prices under review..

According to this interview he graciously gave to BBC Radio Nottingham to offer his comments about his part in leading Nottingham Forest to the worst period in their history.  Not, of course, that he offers any insight into his part in it, rather just more platitudes and infuriatingly insincere sounding ‘insights’ into how he shares the grief of us supporters.

I realise I’m rather making my stance on him obvious in my choice of words, but I’m still rather riled having just finished listening to their Matchtalk programme – which was obviously centred around Forest given Notts and Mansfield’s more conventional finish to the season a while back.  Whilst I’m aware that fans compelled to phone in are not necessarily representative – there sounded a fair proportion ready to throw in the towel of season-ticket-dom, many after several decades of owning one.

His comments were predictably evasive, and David Jackson – hosting the programme – I thought jumped to perhaps a rather fanciful conclusion that ‘reading between the lines’ there was an implication that prices could come down.  What was actually said was the club’s finances are under review given we now know our fate for next season, there was talk of a need to increase funds for players (again!), and that when the spreadsheets had been crunched the plan for season ticket prices would be released.

This is what riles me – this work could have been done months ago, with contingencies depending on whether we were promoted (either automatically or via the playoffs), or whether we’d failed.  It seems almost every club under the sun releases their prices for the following season so much earlier than us – Derby released theirs regardless of the division they ended up in – would it be so hard for the powers that be at Forest to get their fingers out their arses and let us know what they expect us to stump up for the following season?

I’m still not expecting a reduction in prices, indeed, if I were predicting then I would imagine a big PR attempt will be made of the supreme generosity of then holding last seasons prices (which, let’s remember, were significantly increased from the year before, prior to that our Championship prices were frozen in a show of benevolence for a division lower.  I suppose I could quietly hope that upon picking up on sentiments such as these and those scattered across the Forest forums, the club will take note and do the decent thing and reduce the prices.

Simple question – will you renew?

Okay folks, necks on the block line – I’m interested in gauging the state of play amongst season ticket holders at the moment.  If there was no change to the current management personnel (either Smoulds or at Arthur/Doughty’s level) are you planning on renewing your season ticket?  I’m going to be kind – assume there is no price increase (although I fear there will be), but no reduction either.

I will be renewing mine, reluctantly, because frankly I can’t imagine not going down to watch Forest whenever possible, even after yet another dreadful season of dross.  I’d love to gather your comments, if you have made a decision not to renew, then let me know what it would take for you to reconsider (realistically), and what factors have finally ‘broken’ you – you never know, the club might be reading, if there are enough responses I’ll send them to the club anyway.

My biggest problem with the club at the moment is the practically non-existant relationship that seems to exist between them and the fans.  To them we seem walking wallets who are an inconvenience on matchdays (judging by how their ‘security’ staff behave toward us).  It certainly is time they understood our issues with them, although you would hope that years of disappointment might have made them do so before now..