Charity update from Clough Statue miniatures..

Nottingham’s bronze statue of the legendary football manager Brian Clough has helped to raise thousands of pounds for good causes. The sale of hundreds of miniature replica statues of the Master Manager has raised £20,000 for the Brian Clough Memorial Fund, which is run by his family and gives money to the types of charitable causes he supported.

A cheque will be officially presented to the Clough family on Tuesday July 28th at 5pm, next to the original bronze statue in Nottingham city centre.

The limited edition miniature figures, made from resin, were designed by Les Johnson, the world-renowned sculptor who made the impressive nine-feet high bronze statue which was unveiled by Mrs Barbara Clough in Nottingham last November. That statue, costing £70,000, was paid for by fans who set-up a fund raising campaign, smashing through their target in just 18 months.

Following the unveiling of the statue, the miniature figures were put on sale for £100 each. Almost 1,000 have been sold. After artist and production costs are taken into account, all profits are going to the family’s memorial fund. The sale of the replicas was managed by the Nottingham-based firm The Media Group. There are just 30 replicas left. They can be ordered at http://www.themediagroup.tv/brianclough.

The chairman of the Brian Clough Statue Fund (which raised the money for the original life-size bronze statue), Paul Ellis, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the miniature statues have raised so much money for charity. It’s fitting that the proceeds are going to the family’s memorial fund. It goes to show that the memory of Brian Clough can still help good causes, just as he did when he was alive.

“The impressive bronze statue continues to be a fantastic success story. Hardly a day goes by without people stopping to take photographs of it. In helping to raise money for good causes locally, the statue remains a fitting tribute to a remarkable man.”

The Statue Fund was administered by Nottingham City Council. The Council Leader, Jon Collins, said: “The statue is lasting recognition for a remarkable man who did so much for Nottingham and Nottingham Forest. It’s fantastic that fans have in some way been able to give something back to Brian, by helping to support the charities that were close to his heart.”

‘Sir’ Lee Hughes day is born..

Sir Lee Hughes celebrates what turned out to be the winning goal

'Sir' Lee Hughes celebrates what turned out to be the winning goal

Notts County – 2
Nottingham Forest – 1

Probably the most interesting bit of the afternoon would’ve been the chance to see Sven unveiled to the crowd, unfortunately like many Forest fans I was stuck queuing outside as the Notts County turnstile operatives had a nervous breakdown at actually dealing with more than one person every half an hour.  The kick off was delayed after Forest fans continued to pour into the Jimmy Sirrell stand with no seats remaining – ending up in the Family stand to the left.

With the laughably cringeworthy ‘Two Pies on a shirt’ playing on the tannoy, it became apparent that despite the dawning of a new era at Meadow Lane, Notts fans are still rather more obsessed with us – and their victory today will I’m sure endure long in their memories, much like their last victory over us on their own turf – with the same scoreline – has over the years.  For us it’s perhaps a useful reminder that despite good signings, there’s still work for us to do!

Forest lined up thusly:

Camp
Gunter Morgan Wilson Lynch
McGugan McKenna Rajewski Tyson
Adebola Earnshaw

Certainly no B team line-up, this.  The Notts team included former-Reds John Thompson and Craig Westcarr, and loanee-from-Forest Brendan Moloney.

The game was pretty rubbish from both teams, with both sides having occasional good moments permeating mostly fairly lacklustre play – Billy Davies described games like this as an opportunity to drive fitness, but to be honest, only County really looked to be busting a gut to make any headway.  Majewski was impressive in midfield but often looks a few seconds ahead of his colleagues.

Lee Hughes had netted for Notts but was very offside (and knew it well before lobbing into the goal), and later some good play between Rajewski and Adebola set up Earnie with a cracking chance which Hoult did well to save from around 12 yards – would really expect Earnie to have made it more difficult though.  Shortly after Earnie successfully charged down Hoult, the ball broke for McGugan whose shot from the edge of the area was over.

Half time saw Wilson withdrawn for Chambers, due to injury, and immediately in the second half Notts were on the offensive.  ‘Mini-me’ Luke Rodgers did well to escape the attentions of Joel Lynch and beating Lee Camp with a low drive – only to hit the post – and the Reds were able to clear it.  It was a clear warning that Forest didn’t heed though.

Wes missed (not the first of the game, either) a header, Chambers fell over for no apparent reason, allowing Rodgers to stroll clear and stroke the ball expertly into the far corner with Lee Camp not exactly quick off his line to close the angle.  One nil and life was breathed into the half empty home sections.  It must have felt like Christmas come early for them only a few moments later..

Poor defending allowed Craig Westcarr (yes, him!) to get down the right and whip in an excellent cross, Lee Hughes beat Chris Gunter in the air inside the six yard box to head it past Lee Camp to give the home side a 2-0 lead.  Certainly it was the kind of cross I regularly heard Paul Smith lambasted for not claiming by some of our fans – that said, I don’t think the ‘keeper should have come for it – I do think Chambers or Morgan should have been marking the dangerous Hughes, though.

Forest chucked on McGoldrick, Blackstock, Anderson and Mitchell for the injured Chambers – and looked, as you’d expect, fairly disjointed from there on in.  Dexter had a chance but made it easy for the ‘keeper, McGugan eventually got Forest’s consolation with an accomplished drive from range – admittedly the ‘keeper should’ve kept it out, though!

Another chance fell to Blackstock who went for goal rather than putting the ball in to the back post where McGoldrick and Anderson would’ve had a tap-in.  The sense of urgency was never really there from Forest though, and with Notts resorting to time-wasting (in a friendly!) it never really looked like it was going to be our day.

So Sven’s era at Notts starts with possibly the result most County fans dream of most, and the controversiality of Lee Hughes has had a significant PR boost by snagging the winning goal, no doubt!  I thought Notts’ goals were very well taken, but as a result of poor defending – so I hoping that Billy has been reminded sharply that we do need a leader in the centre of our defence, as I don’t think we have one currently.

Well done to Notts though, they took their chances well when they came – certainly Rodgers and Hughes will bag plenty of goals for them in League Two.  I’ll tell you who played bloody well for them too, Brendan Moloney.  He kept Tys very quiet all game and was very accomplished at right back.  A good result for them, a poor performance from us, but it’s not quite as worrying as it might be.  It will certainly remind Billy – and the players – that they still have plenty of work to do this preseason.

Season long loan of Majewski confirmed..

It’s been talked about for a while, was all but confirmed yesterday – but is now official, Polish international Radoslaw Majewski will be on loan at Forest for the duration of the 2009/2010 season.  Indeed, his career as a Forest player started this evening, where he scored within two minutes against Rushden and Diamonds!

The 22 year old is widely regarded as one of Poland’s rising stars, which has earned him five caps for the Polish national team.  Billy commented that we’ve been watching his progress for some time, and confirmed the convenient way to refer to him is Raddy which will come in handy for those of you trying to think up chants for him!

On the official site, he said:

“We’re delighted to have Raddy on board. He’s a player we’ve been watching for a long time and a player that has produced several good performances at international level.  I’ve spoken to several people close to international football who have had nothing but good things to say about him.”

“And having seen him play, watched several DVD’s and closely monitored his progress, we certainly think we’re bringing in a player that has got an excellent footballing brain and a wonderful touch.  He certainly has the ability to create and score goals and on his day can be a real handful.  He’s a very fit young man and is another young player with great potential who will only get better.”

So that’s more good news!  One thing more negative folks have mentioned is the lack of creativity in the team – personally I would point to McGugan, Anderson, McCleary, Adebola (from a ‘flick on’ point of view) as well as Tyson and Earnshaw as options for this – as well as McKenna in a ‘setting up’ the creative players.  But Majewski apparently provides this role more blatantly.  Will be great to see how he settles in!

Welcome aboard, Raddy.  Anyone else lost count of how many players we’ve signed?

Friendly round up..

Rotherham United – 0
Nottingham Forest – 1

This was the game I opted for, and to be honest, it wasn’t great!  Having seen most of the high profile new signings featuring down in Rushden I was kicking myself a bit, but the Don Valley Stadium represented a new ground for me, so I took my place to see a mixture of first teamers and youngster lining up something like this:

Darlow
Fairclough Morgan Wilson (c) Diagne
Anderson Moussi Darnet Tyson
Earnshaw Adebola

The Don Valley Stadium is an odd arena, Paralympic history means there’s space for a flame and relatively low stands and running track puts the crowd far from the action – so when you’re watching unfamiliar players it’s not helpful.  The atmosphere suffers for the sparsely populated arena and the away end is tucked slightly round a corner from the home support.

Rotherham started brighter, a decent cross bringing an early save from Darlow, but then it was Forest on the attack – Earnie had an initial chance which he ambitiously tried to curl into the top corner, but was comfortably over, however, we didn’t have to wait much longer for a nice flick from Dele Adebola, a dropped shoulder from Earnie to free up enough space to slot the ball into the net off the far post – a nice goal.

It’s fair to say though, aside from occasional forays, the rest of the game largely belonged to the home side.  Darlow was well beaten by a header looping over him (not for the last time in the game!), but Paul Anderson was on hand to deal with it on the line, only for the rebound to be thunderously struck against him again making two goalline clearances in as many nanoseconds.

Moments later Taylor struck a delicious strike that had Darlow well beaten, but not the woodwork.  Pope showed great composure to strike the rebound into the net first time, however he was in an offside position so the goal was disallowed.  Shortly after Earnie charged down a clearance which ricocheted kindly for him to stroke a gentle lob over Warrington, but the referees whistle chalked this off too we think for a handball against Earnie.

Darlow – erratic in the Forest goal – was in trouble again when Sharp headed over him, he backpedalled and caught it but I’m sure it was over the line, a shove from the Rotherham striker made it an easier decision for the referee and linesman to not heed the home sides’ protests – but I’m pretty sure it was over the line before any foul play regardless.  Tys sliced a shot wide from the left after good work from Adebola and Earnie, and that was pretty much it for the half.

The half time break seemed to last an eternity, presumably with Billy not in attendance they were stodging up on pies, chips, gravy and a couple of pints – hence the delayed start to the second half, and the singular lack of real pace or urgency that was to unfold.  We had been looking forward to Forest attacking the end we were sitting, but well, there wasn’t to be much attacking in the second half!

Darlow was going walkabout again and was almost lobbed by Ellison prompting a great save from the young ‘keeper – notwithstanding him being hideously out of position in the first place.  From the resulting corner Darnet was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area giving Rotherham a penalty as a means of getting back into the game.

Tyson spent a while in the box stretching for cramp, which might’ve contributed to putting off Stephen Brogan who – just on as a substitute – spannered the penalty into the crossbar and over, much to the mock-relief of the travelling fans.  Another header beat Darlow only for Wes to literally appear from nowhere to make the clearance.  Darlow finished well with a save after a good run and shot from Brogan.

Basically, this was the jammiest clean sheet I’ve ever seen – I wasn’t at all impressed with Darlow.  The established players all played okay, particularly Tyson, Anderson, Adebola, Wes and Earnie.  The player that stood out amongst the youngsters was Jordan Fairclough – son of Chris – playing at right back, I thought he had a fine game both defensively and going forward, so he’s my man of the match.

Rushden and Diamonds 1
Nottingham Forest 1

Arguably the pick of the fixtures, with more of the new signings down here finished in a draw, the Forest goal coming from new loanee Radoslaw Majewski with his first touch of the ball!  I’m kind of guess at the team formation having not been there and not being massively familiar with all the players, but:

Camp
Gunter Chambers Mitchell Lynch
Majewski McKenna (C) McGugan Davies
McGoldrick Blackstock

So yes, one minute and thirty three seconds were on the clock when debutant Radoslaw Majewski picked up the ball on the edge of the box, turned and shot past Dale Roberts in the Rushden goal.  Dexter broke through minutes later but Roberts was alive to the danger and blocked.

The equaliser, just before half time,  saw Forest loanee James Reid make a good run down the left and put a cross in for Aaron O’Connor to bundle over the line.

In the second half Rushden came out very positively, Gunter was required to make a goal-line clearance towards the end of the game to keep it level.  Rushden made a total of eight substitutions whilst Forest only withdrew Lewis (for Rodney) and Mitchell (for Benjamin), so much like in the Rotherham game, Forest keen to get 90 minutes into players compared to our opponents.

Is Dexter home, is Dexter home..?

Every time I hear Dexter’s name it brings to mind ‘Frontier Psychiatrist’ by The Avalanches as his first name features at the start.  At this rate of signings, I think I might need some frontier psychiatry as it does feel rather akin to being strangely hypnotised!  Anyway.  As if you didn’t know, it’s been confirmed by the Reds that Dexter Blackstock will be joining us by signing a four year contract.

Personal terms with the player have been agreed, an undisclosed fee has been agreed with QPR (the rumours around this were anything from £1m to £1.6m prior to the Reds confirming the signing), the official site I think is saying that a medical has been completed – so basically it all comes down to the mysterious post-medical tasks that means so many of our signings this summer have taken a day or so to ‘finalise’.

This is great news, it’s the sixth striker Billy mentioned in the close season and we’re familiar with what he can do from his loan spell.  QPR’s top scorer last season, he joins Bristol City’s top scorer and Southampton’s top scorer in our new ranks – that said, how any of them will get enough games to snag that many goals, who knows?!  Either way, it’s a signing I’m very happy indeed about!

The loan move for Majewski too is set to be confirmed – a year loan with an option of a £1.5m move for the player should it be desired.  The Evening Post seem to think this is on, and will be signing number nine for the Reds in a summer of splurging on new players. Both players as well as Lynch are likely to be involved in the two friendly games tonight.

Whilst we’re unaccustomed to doing it, a glance over the river shows that Sven has indeed agreed a deal with Notts County.  £2m a year (although very much performance-linked), for five years!  And to think they were quibbling with Chesterfield over the fee for Jack Lester – bizarre times but well, they deserve some kudos for the audacity of the move!  Hilariously, the Sun think he might involve David Platt in his plans… oh please, let that happen!

First-teamers at both friendlies tonight..

I’d planned to head up to Rotherham today, utterly convinced that I would end up – like the Reds fans at the Ilkeston friendly did – watching players I’d never heard of probably producing questionable football.  Luckily Forest have confirmed that both the game against Rotherham United and that against Rushden and Diamonds will feature members of the first team squad.

The trouble is, they don’t say which members will be at which game!  Ultra-new signings Lynch, Blackstock and Majewski are likely to feature at one or both games – but if you’re hankering after checking out a particular player, then I’m afraid it’s a case of picking and hoping – unless you happen to have a Harry Potter style time-turner so that you really can be in two places at once.

So it’s off to the Don Valley Stadium for me this evening to watch Rotherham in Sheffield – which looks like it has shallow stands and a massive athletics track in the way, should be interesting!  Even though I’m generally fairly unexcited by preseason friendlies, with all the signings we’ve made you can’t help but be a but excited by the prospect of seeing the Reds live!

More outlandish rumours..

Rumours such as these would have seemed outlandish – but then, after the happenings of the last few weeks and days, my own definition of the term ‘outlandish’ is becoming a little more extreme than once it was.  Rather than start stories for every single rumour doing the rounds at the moment it makes more sense to try to bring them all together into a single update.

The thing that has really grabbed my attention is the rumour of an outgoing or two, given that we’ve enjoyed news of so many incoming transfers.  Paul Hart, former Reds manager, has been installed as Portsmouth manager and is supposedly trying to lure both James Perch and Wes Morgan to the South Coast.  Figures of £5m for the pair of them has been mentioned, which – frankly – is the kind of money we couldn’t possibly turn down!

Wes was probably fractionally behind Chris Cohen as our player of the season last year – a title not without auspiciousness even in a season of struggle.  His youth belies his experience as he’s been a regular starter since he was very young.  Perchy has been Mr Versatility, a defender by nature he has probably spent more time in midfield for the Reds, a divisive figure for many fans I’ve always valued his contribution to the cause.

Both I would be sorry to see leave for sentimental reasons, but in all good conscience I would struggle to turn down the kind of fees being talked about here.  Of course, that would be rather dependent on securing the services of appropriate replacements – particularly for Wes who – on current squad levels – would be a definite starter in one of the centreback berths for us.  Of course, it remains to be seen whether or not this ‘story’ is anything beyond a lazy link between Paul Hart and former players.

So that leads neatly into incomings.  LTLF appear confident that Radoslaw Majewski – a young Polish international midfielder – will be arriving at Trentside on a season long loan.  On the defensive front we appear to still be in the running for Mills from Doncaster, competing with West Brom for the services of the defender for a fee of around £2.2m.  Whispers over on Vital Forest suggest we might have the favour of his agent and have set a deadline of Friday for Doncaster to stop fannying around.

Also from there, despite bringing in Joel Lynch it would appear we are not only still interested in – but we are at advanced stages of – bringing Danny Fox in as well.  A new name in the frame is Zak Whitbread from Millwall, who is a centreback of a decent calibre – he is incoherently described as being ‘set to be a Red’.  Elliott Ward, also from Coventry, is supposedly not entirely out of the picture either.

If (and it’s a big if) all of these signings come to pass – before the last few weeks I would have laughed off the prospect as lunacy – then we will feasibly have an entirely new team.  Notwithstanding a fair few of our arrivals have spent time here on loan, of course.  It would seem, if rumours and news are combined, that Billy is certainly looking to inject a healthy dose of revolution into our evolution.  Bring it on!