The last year of the ‘noughties’ has been a fairly eventful one for the Reds, in a decade that has been – for the most part – fairly inauspicious. We have spent the last ten years languishing in the second tier, worse still, we had a three year sabbatical in the third – we had dipped to possibly our lowest ebb in living memory yet now, we are daring to look upward to the top flight with a distinct feeling of maybe, rather than never.
It has certainly been a rollercoaster – but with a smidgin under a year in charge, Billy Davies has seized upon the foundations put in place by others and begun to deliver not only league placing, but fantastic football. I’m going to take a quick opportunity to look back over the past twelve months – and pick out my highlights. Obviously I’d welcome your own additions, as my memories are far from definitive!
January – after initial grizzling on my part, Billy Davies took the helm of Nottingham Forest. A big slice of humble pie has long since been eaten and enjoyed by me, as my initial fears at his appointment have been swept aside by his construction of a team I once again look forward to watching. A big honourable mention should also go to the Reds trip to Manchester City where we stunned our hosts with a 3-0 win!
February – It’s easy to forget that the Davies revolution took a while to be fully prepared. He had a tricky start, and in this month we lost to Derby at the City Ground. Twice. Now whilst our respective fortunes have diverged in a favourable direction for us, make no mistake, at the time this made me absolutely and utterly gutted. I had still clearly not warmed to the manager.
March – Burnley. Turf Moor. Five nil. We really thought that was it – well, that was the last time we were to taste defeat on our travels in 2009. So this game was a catalyst of sorts – indeed, those poor fans who made the trip to Burnley were ‘rewarded’ with half price tickets to Barnsley. Forest ended the month by loaning Dexter Blackstock from QPR, and The Damned United came out at cinemas – and was excellent.
April – in April I barely wrote anything! There were two things that stand out for me this month, the first of which was that winning goal by Dexter Blackstock against Bristol City. I spoke earlier of catalysts – well this sure was one. The other thing April saw was the twentieth anniversary of the Hillsborough disaster.
May – by may we were pretty much home and dry – but a last day win against relegated Southampton at the City Ground was a nice end for us in what had been a stressful season. We said goodbye to Ian Breckin, and clearly by May I was very much sold on Wee Billy now he had secured is second flight status.
July – Sven-gate aside over the river, July saw us sign Lee Camp, Joel Lynch, Paul McKenna, Chris Gunter, Dexter Blackstock and Radoslaw Majewski. Nine signings, as well as a clutch of friendlies – the highlight of which must have been a win over Sporting Lisbon in Portugal!
August – a win over Derby, a harmless celebration turned ugly by embittered Rams players, natural order restored somewhat? Sit back and enjoy reliving the highlights! This was our first league win of the season – after an inauspicious start (two draws and two defeats), although we had a couple of good results in the cup.
September – didn’t springboard us into life, a couple more draws on our travels and a disappointing defeat to Blackpool at home. I think the key moment this month was a scrappy goal by Chris Gunter giving us a victory against Plymouth, from which we’ve really started to push on from.
October – the Toon Army rolled into Nottingham in October, and had to watch their side undergo a thorough examination in a rampant first half performance from the Reds. Dexter’s goal was enough to give Forest a deserved win, and perhaps finally start to ignite a bit of believe both in fans and pundits alike that Forest had credentials beyond simply surviving.
November – aside from the obvious pleasure in abusing Jeremy Clarkson, but perhaps the highlight of the month was a City Ground dismantling of Doncaster Rovers, our tormentors on Boxing Day 2008 (ultimately the game that lost Smoulderwood his job).
December – a good month for the Reds! It started with annihilating promotion hopefuls Leicester City in an exhilarating encounter, with a convincing win over Preston North End on the way – and capped off with a battling victory over Coventry City to see the Reds end 2009 unbeaten in 16 games and Billy Davies surely the favourite for Manager of the Month.
There we have it – what a year! Necessarily I’ve missed out many key moments and highlights, what a testament that there are so many of them that there are some to leave out. Recent years have oft been bereft of too many memorable moments for us – or at least, memorable for reasons beyond fuelling nightmares!
A very Happy New Year to everyone at Nottingham Forest – keep up the great work, and of course to all you fans as well. Strap yourselves back in after your New Year’s Eve celebrations because I have a feeling that we’ve yet to see the true heights this rollercoaster can scale – and indeed, logic dictates there will be a few dips along the way too.
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