Memories of glory, and a reality check..

Around this time thirty years ago Nottingham would’ve been a great place to be – Munich would’ve been a better place to be, of course, because Forest would have just been crowned Champions of Europe.  You know, back when you really had to be a Champion to qualify for the competition.

There’s been lots of reminiscing around the internet which I’ve been keeping tabs on – sadly being of a certain age I have no recollection at all of those legendary events, although of course have become as familiar as one can with them in retrospect from videos and stories from my elders.  It’s certainly a story worth telling, I reckon!

I’m sure you’ve seen numerous pieces yourselves, but my favourite by far has been Gary Roe’s five part recollection of the Annesley Reds and their tour to Munich.  Released over five days in installments over on LTLF, it’s made essential daily reading for me – incase you haven’t already caught it, then I’ve provided a link below – a great account!

Hats off to you, Gary – a thoroughly enjoyable read!  There is also an interesting alternative account on LTLF courtesy of ‘Me Owd’ whose general recounts of past glories or players I would recommend reading too.  You can find this by clicking here.

Whilst we lose ourselves in misty reminisces of glory, we should also spare a thought to the awful news that Nottingham lad and Forest fan Lance Corporal Kieron Hill of the Mercian Regiment was killed in the Helmand Province, Afghanistan on 28th May.  Kieron leaves behind two brothers, one of whom is in the Forest academy, another on the books of neighbours Notts County.  I’m sure you’ll all join me in offering condolences to his family and friends.  Rest in Peace, Kieron.

Burnley progress, we’re playing the Blades next year!

Thanks to a spectacular finish from Wade Elliott was all it took to send Burnley to Premier League delirium this afternoon.  Indeed, a bit more composure (and less heroic blocks from Blades defenders) could’ve made it more comfortable for the Clarets.

Owen Coyle’s dark horses have gone the distance and won promotion – having watched the game I don’t think the Blades can have too many complaints.  Whilst they have a chip on their shoulder about the referee he didn’t do much wrong today – indeed, it was quite disappointing to see the Sheffield side resort to diving and pleading for handballs and generally acting like Warnock was in charge again.

So we get to resume our recently rekindled rivalry with the Blades next season, whilst Burnley will be seeking to emulate Stoke and Hull in confounding the pundits and somehow retaining their Premier League status.  Watching the game made me nostalgic and full of regret that instead of making permanent the signing of Robbie Blake, we ended up with David Johnson.

Congratulations to Burnley, certainly we saw how deadly they can be (and indeed how rubbish we can be!) last season, and commisserations to Sheffield United who don’t seem to fare well in Play Off finals – knowing all too well how much it hurts to go out in the semi-finals I can’t imagine the heartache a fan goes through losing at Wembley.

A North-East double join West Brom in relegation..

sheerahThere is now but one opponent to be decided after yesterday’s glibly titled ‘Survival Sunday.’  An off-target Gareth Barry strike deflected off Damien Duff to give Aston Villa the only goal of the game, thus ensuring results elsewhere didn’t matter – the Toon Army were guaranteed a shambolic march into the Championship along with Middlesbrough, who lost to West Ham.  Hull and Sunderland breathed a sigh of relief as Newcastle’s fall meant their own defeats to Manchester United and Chelsea didn’t really matter.

It’s hard not to be taken up by the national amusement at the fall of the North East ‘giants’ – the media love to point their cameras at overweight shirtless Geordies – and there were plenty on show in floods of tears at Villa Park yesterday.  Certainly years of fundamental mismanagement have taken their toll, and provided the Championship with a fixture that everyone is looking out for.

Whether Mike Ashley will try again to cut his losses and sell the increasingly less valuable monkey on his back, whether Shearer – the latest ‘messiah’ the Magpies have turned to – will stay to try to lead the side to promotion, is very unclear.  Certainly from the top, to the management to hapless players on the pitch, Newcastle certain earn their tag as a national laughing stock in football.

The Villa fans summed it up rather well with this slightly cruel, but well observed banner:

However, I can’t quite revel in too much joy over it – certainly I have little sympathy either.  If ever there was a club that could use a healthy dose of reality it is Newcastle United – certainly they will get it, indeed, a season or more in the Championship might reaffirm their self-stylings as ‘a big club’ – because games against them will be treated akin to cup finals by many of us mere minnows in The Championship.

It will require a degree of resilience, passion and endeavour for them to succeed – and on current showings, they don’t seem to have much of that going for them.  Of course, some degree of wholesale personnel changes will be taking place – it will be certainly be interesting to observe their progress, and I’m not too two-faced to admit that I’m really looking forward to a trip to St. James’ Park next season.

Scunthorpe were celebrating too yesterday, after triumphing in a thrilling play off final against Millwall, scoring the winning goal with only five minutes remaining having been 1-0 up, then level, then 2-1 down.  Big congratulations to the Iron, who showed great resilience to eventually get past the Lions.  Poor Gary Alexander must be kicking himself after scoring twice for the London side before missing a sitter at 2-2 that would surely have won Millwall promotion.

The only business left to be decided is whether it is Sheffield United or Burnley who remain in the Championship.  I’m not exactly a fan of either team so it’s a tricky one to state a preference over, although I do greatly admire Owen Coyles work at Burnley I can’t quite get out of my head the numerous unpleasant trips I’ve had to Turf Moor, and well, all of us have a healthy dislike of Sheffield United don’t we?  I think this is as close to a ‘don’t care’ game as I’ve found so far at the end of this season.

Chris is Cohen nowhere!

Whilst the clamour for new signing rumours shows no sign of abatement, some splendid news came from Forest today.  Midfielder Chris Cohen has signed a well-earned new contract which will keep him at the City Ground until 2013.  Naturally I’m very pleased that he has decided to stick around, after a well-deserved player of the season award, and it also bodes well for wheels being in motion in the background to build the squad we need to be competitive in this league.

Congratulations, Chris – it’s great to have you signed up for a while again.

Rumours gather apace but with little substance so far – some quarters are suggesting signings have been made, but are being kept quiet for no apparent reason, Dele Adebola, David McGoldrick and the hitherto not-linked-with-us Paul McKenna are being whispered as ‘done deals’ – I’m afraid I can’t offer any insight into the accuracy of these utterances.  Marcus Hahnemann and Dexter Blackstock have been pigeon-holed into the ‘still talking to’ category.

Those are the more prevalent ones – if I troubled to list all the names I’d heard lately then it would take a considerably longer time to write this post which I’m not really prepared to do!  Whatever is happening backstage at the City Ground they’re keeping it quiet – I guess if signings have been made or are about to be then we’ll have to wait ’til after the bank holiday now to find out for definite.

There’s also the usual degree of unhealthy obsession with our neighbaa’s on the message boards, some degree of affrontment from some quarters that former Reds legend Johnny Metgod is taking a role as a coach there, personally that doesn’t really bother me.  Also that Pride Park appears to have become Gay Pride Park for the day. 

One thing that I’m sure Forest and Derby fans alike can come to an agreement upon is that the defacing of the Brian Clough statue in Nottingham is a disgrace.  The good news is that the incident is being investigated by the Police, and hopefully the culprit (or culprits) will be identified and punished.

08/09 Highlights..

Just when you thought you’d heard the last of me ’til we signed somebody or next season arrived, I just found this little gem on YouTube which I wanted to link to incase the thought police remove it at some point.  Courtesy of UltimateJoe1992, we have a compilation of highlights from the season just gone.  Enjoy!

Rumour roundup..

"What're yae talkin' aboot?"... "Fitbae!"*

Along with the good folks at LTLF and Eighteensixtyfive it looks very much like we’ve made good use of our post-season downtime by ensuring Forest romp home in The Sun’s poll trying to determine the best team ever.  Competitions like this are fraught with problems, not least the non-comparable nature of the sport we watch today compared with that of the 70s or 80s.  I suspect the general Merseyside avoidance of The Sun might also have helped!

Imagine how long Kenny Burns or Larry Lloyd would last with a modern referee or linesman, equally, imagine what Ronaldo or Rooney would make of one of their more ‘sturdy’ challenges with a referee from the past looking on nonplussed as United’s modern day nancy boys rolled around on the floor probably with some justification for once in their life.  It does make me feel old actually to think that Pearcey might struggle with modern rules somewhat – and I watched him for many a year!

Anyway, I digress from rumour mongering.  Apparently Swansea have had a six-figure fee accepted for Paul Anderson by Liverpool.  This has naturally unleashed panic and fear amongst Forest fans, who assume that the Forest powers-that-be are sat idly by whilst the Swans pounce for the lad.  I imagine Forest are in fact going about their business more quietly, much as they did when he chose us over Swansea as a loan destination.  That’s if Billy wants to sign him of course – although less than £1m seems like a bargain to me!

And if a former-Mansfield defender is good enough for the sheep botherers, then clearly we need one as well – being linked with former Stag Alex-John Baptiste – although this former Stags man actually managed to move up in the leagues rather than ending up at another non-league side.  He’s had stints at Crewe and most recently Blackpool.  At 23 there’s time for development – not as exciting as the continued rumours of Rob Jones, who had a storming game against Celtic recently.

Meanwhile, rumours of the reserves being scrapped (what I have heard is that they are being withdrawn from the badly organised reserve league – and will be playing a series of friendlies instead, so not quite the same).  These rumours are linked to those that Pembo might be on his way.  I wouldn’t be surprised, it’s not unusual for the ‘old guard’ to make way under a new regime at a club.  I’d be sad to see Pembo go after he manfully caretook us into a better run under Davies, but let’s be honest, it’s not exactly the end of the world.

The other news is the England World Cup bid for 2018 which is underway, and pits us against the Sheep and Leicester.  They’d need to add further seats to their lego grounds, whereas we’d need to build our own new lego ground.  I have a nasty feeling that may be what happens, and rather alarmingly whilst I still retain immeasurable fondness for the City Ground and don’t want to leave it on most levels, I can start to see benefits in having improved facilities.  Damn, that almost sounds positive.. must remedy that over the summer!

So a surprising amount to talk about!  We get to find out who will be departing us from Burnley and Sheffield United (since I predicted the semis so well, my money will be on Burnley to attrition their way through an unentertaining final, possibly on penalties), and also who will be joining us from Millwall or Scunthorpe.  I would prefer Scunny to come up, but can’t see past a fairly comfortable win for the Lions on this occasion.  So I think Millwall and Blades fans will be those we’re welcoming next season, neither of ’em my favourites, but still!

So there we have it – I imagine the message boards will continue to be awash with outlandish rumours, with the odd nugget of wisdom within them, and lots of panicking over other clubs being linked with half-baked people who might vaguely fit a position we need someone for.  I really really don’t much like this phase of the season – at least in the January transfer window we have games to distract us from the shit rumours!  Ho hum!  Should I hear anything I feel worth repeating I’ll pass it on, otherwise, enjoy the summer!

* tenuous photo/caption! Couldn’t think of anything else!

Vote Forest!

You know it makes sense – we’ve been catching up with Manchester United over the last day or so apparently, let’s win it for Cloughie!

Click the link here, then click on the vote now button.

Play-off round up, and no Forest news at all!

The playoffs are well and truly underway, with the first leg of the Championship and League One semi finals completed.  The outcome of these games obviously determines who will be joining us from beneath, and who will be departing us to the top flight.  Much like last season, I quite like the detached air with which I can view the play-offs!

All four games are still pretty close at the half way stage – Sheffield United and Preston are currently level, 1-1 was how the game finished at Deepdale on Friday.  Burnley beat Reading with a late penalty today, with Bikey having a gigantic hissy fit having been sent off, so 1-0 was the final score at Turf Moor.  So at ‘half time’ only Burnley have an advantage.

In League One Scunthorpe and MK Dons played out a 1-1 draw at Glanford Park on Friday, whilst today former Reds striker Neil Harris came off the bench for the injured price and snagged the only goal of the game to give the Lions a 1-0 lead to take to Elland Road next week.  Although there was controversy as Millwall fans invaded the pitch and are reported to have hit Leeds ‘keeper Ankergren with missles.

It all seems rather too close to predict – given Reading’s recent home form I would chance my arm to predict Burnley reaching the final of the Championship play-offs, and I think the Blades might just have too much at home for Preston.  So a Burnley verses Sheffield United final, I’m predicting.  As for who will win that, well, who knows?

In League One it’s even more difficult to predict – is a solitary goal enough to take to a hostile Elland Road? Well, it rather depends which Leeds turns up.  I am far too ignorant as to the relative merits of Scunthorpe or MK Dons in all honesty – although the Dons finished 11 points ahead of Scunny, so on that rather simplistic basis I’ll predict a win for the franchised team, meeting Millwall in the final, who will weather the storm at Elland Road.

So if you fancy a bet, go and bet on the opposite of what I just predicted!

The times they are a’changin’..

The futures bright, the futures Billy...

The future's bright, the future's Billy...

I started writing this site back in August 2006, in some ways it seems an age ago, in others just a mere blip in time.  Rather deliriously I had hoped to chronicle our return to prominence, well, it took a while longer than I’d hoped but last season we finally hauled ourselves free of League One, and of course, this season successfully retained our status in the Championship.  At the time of setting up I wrote:

“This time is a turbulent one in Forest’s history – we find ourselves at the lowest ebb in living memory of the club – it will hopefully be interesting to look back upon what will hopefully be a record of how these fortunes might change, or might not.”

After Yeovil Town made a monkey out of us in the second leg of the playoff semi-final at the City Ground it felt like perhaps we would remain in the obscurity of the lower leagues.  Even the following season where Smoulderwood did plot a haphazard course to automatic promotion it didn’t feel like any kind of return to glory, although that final day of action will live long in our collective memories I’m sure.

As my third season of writing about Forest draws to a close I find my optimism reignited slightly.  Of course, there will always be a big underpinning of caution prompted by years of bitter experience – but despite all this, I have a good feeling about our immediate future.  Despite my initially strong misgivings, I’m just about ready to admit I was wrong about Billy Davies, and I’m excited by the future with him at the helm.

According to this website nffcblog is worth $1277.5, which is well, not a lot really!  I’ve often questioned whether or not my ramblings are really justification for the time I spend on here – but it’s cathartic, and it clearly is for the regulars who leave insightful and amusing comments with great regularity.  As we are on what could be the dawning of a return to some kind of goodness, it would seem folly to stop!

So yes, I feel good about the future – I’m impressed with the kind of vision Billy Davies speaks about, of course, to achieve his vision we will need to have an impressive time of it in the transfer window.  That definitely sets alarm bells ringing, I’ve lost count of the transfer windows where I’ve been excited by prospects only to have them dashed, but if the kinds of noises Davies is making come to fruition then we have just cause to be excited!

With more transfer rumours than I know what to do with, it could be a blog-tastic summer – although compared to earlier in the life of the site I don’t tend to hoover up rumours and regurgitate them quite as much as I used to (just have a scan down the ‘posts per month’ section on the right for evidence!).  Utilising my Twitter account for shorter snippets seems to make more sense – so get following, or keep an eye on the Twitter box on the right hand side.

Onwards and hopefully upwards!  Thank you all for your virtual company over the season, your feedback has been invaluable and appreciated – so keep putting forward your views (and any ideas you have for the site ongoing).  I’ll be keeping tabs of goings on at Forest but frequency of posting is inevitably going to slow as we enter the close season.  I know I spend most of the football season moaning, but I’m missing it already!

Sad to be Breckin up with Ian..

Firstly, I think that Billy Davies has made the right decision in suggesting Brecks seeks his future at pastures new – he still has a bit of playing to do, and if we can’t offer him a regular starting position then he should do so elsewhere.  And I imagine in doing so he’ll take the good wishes of Forest fans with him.

He joined us back at the start of 2005-2006 – and was an ever present in the side for league games, notching ten goals largely by nodding home Nicky Southall corners if memory serves.  In 2006-2007 he again featured in every league game although the goals started to dry up – only netting three in this season.

As times got more lean for the club last season Breckin found himself marginalised by Smoulderwood.  It was an emotional return to the side for him against Norwich at Carrow Road once the bronzen one was removed, and under Pemberton and later Davies, Brecks found himself called upon and never let us down.

So personally I’d like to thank Ian for his professional contribution to Forest over the last four years.  He’s had a long career spanning Rotherham, Chesterfield, Wigan and us – taking in more than 600 appearances.  All the best for the future, skipper!