Rest in peace, Trevor Brown..

I picked up an email from a fellow fan about his friend, Trevor Brown. I never had the pleasure of his acquaintance, but checking the forums and doing a bit of research it seems Trevor was a very popular Forest fan – it’s very sad to hear he passed away on Wednesday at the far-too-young age of 49 years.

He’d been an A Block stalwart since before it became the vogue, and will be missed by a great many Forest fans – which you can see for yourselves by reading these tributes on the website for The Poets Corner – the pub in the Meadows where he was clearly as well known as at the City Ground.

It’s always sad to hear that one of the ranks of trickies has departed us – so for what they’re worth I pass my condolences on to Trevor’s family and many friends.  Rest in peace, Trev – let’s hope the Red can deliver us a season fitting to honour the memories so many people clearly cherish.

The day when Jeremy Beadle scored against Forest..

Utterly childish, but it tickled me yesterday.  One of the awesome things about the evenings at The Approach (as well as being mildly depressing) is their habit of popping old Forest season reviews on the screens while we wait for the guest to arrive.  Last night they had the 1992/93 season which saw Frank Clark get Forest promoted at the first time of asking, as well as lots of Stan Collymore related excitement.

It brought back many happy memories – when the highlights rolled around to our away game with Millwall (I think this was televised – it finished 2-2, and featured a Millwall fan running on to the pitch to confront Stan Collymore for no particular reason!) – but a comment from a fellow fan in the crowd really made me chuckle.  Just prior to it happening, he turned to a companion and announced “Hey, look, this is where Jeremy Beadle scored against us!”.

Watch the video below – if you’re in a rush skip to around two minutes in, and see if you can spot the now sadly deceased TV prankster in an unexpected moment of prominence.  Sadly I couldn’t find a better quality clip on YouTube – but perhaps that adds to the likeness!  Indeed, if you click through to view the video on YouTube itself, a Millwall fan has commented on the said-same likeness!

Pictures from Billy night..

Apologies for yet another post on this, but my laptop is shut down so I’m back on the mobile (so can bombard you with new things, but not edit old ones easily!) – but I was excited to get these photographs emailed to me from a kind soul who took pity on my bemoaning of rubbish pictures from my poor abused phone camera!

Here are a couple of excellent shots taken by Lee Wallis of, who of course holds the copyright to these images and kindly gave me permission to use them. Thanks Lee! I think they’re brilliant, I only wish our timing was better to drop them into my summary, but won’t get much blogging time between now and the weekend.

Does Billy offer Shorey hint? Probably not..

Wasn't close enough for a decent snap!

It was very much a game of two halves for the Evening With Billy Davies at The Approach tonight, I thought.  I posted briefly from my phone after the first ‘half’ – which was basically Darren Fletcher putting a number of his own questions to him, in which I thought Billy came across very well indeed.  What was clear to see was his passion, commitment and the laying out of certain ground-rules…

In the second half, when it was open to the floor (admittedly moderated by the means of submitting questions on pieces of paper), it was clear that a number of folks in the crowd didn’t really pay much attention to those ground-rules.  Davies made it clear he wasn’t prepared to discuss ‘board matters’ but would be as honest as he could be within the terms of his contract.  For some people that didn’t seem to be good enough.

Certainly he warned that the conduct of some hecklers would make him doubt whether or not future events like this would be appealing to him – which is a shame, it’s a rare example of a Forest representative clearly keen to engage with the fans who, on the whole, he gives the strong impression of appreciating massively.  Fletcher didn’t exactly do him many favours by repeating questions which were clearly not going to be answered…

Anyway.. enough of my babble – these are the highlights as I’ve been able to glean from my memory and with no small help from the helpful Twitter stream of @Dazzler_m who kept up a running commentary throughout proceedings, which was more than I could be bothered to attempt!

He started by reminding us of the huge amount of credit our team (and supporters) deserved for last season’s efforts – a number of times he used terms like ‘overperformed’ which would suggest they perhaps exceeded his expectations somewhat.  He reminded the fans of that patience is a virtue – that we started slowly in results terms last season (but not performance levels) and the fans backing really helped.

When quizzed about signings, he was at pains to point out that the acquisitions, sales and loans of players were not his decision – his role in the acquisition panel was an advisor and recommender.  He let slip that the other members may have their own targets in addition to those he puts forward, he also clarified that he advises on potential outgoings as well as incomings.

Billy underlined that he was aware of the system that Forest have in place, and that then – and now – he is supportive of it as a notion, given the financial situation at the club.  It is the chairman’s money to spend, and Billy is very much in the position of working with the resources he is provided – he claims to be happy with this situation.  He pointed out obviously he will always want improvements that might not be forthcoming.

Nicky Shorey was a popular topic of conversation, and when his name was first mentioned Billy muttered ‘… is a Red’ under his breath (ape-ing the ‘Billy Davies is a Red’ chant that had been doing the rounds) – which is naturally being leapt upon as a massive hint.  I’m not so sure, although obviously I bloody hope it is!  Billy clearly rated Shorey’s ability and impact on our squad as highly as many of us do.

When Fletcher likened the current situation to the Paul Hart post-playoff season Billy dodged it, understandably – he pleaded ignorance on Forest at that time (fair enough), and reiterated his pretty well scripted view on Forest’s acquisitions policy.  Certainly people who were at the last Davies night noted a much more guarded and – I’d say professional – Billy Davies than the man who was present that evening.

The main final topic of conversation was around the press – now rumours have been in overdrive lately, and Davies quashed any suggestion that (a) he was about to quit, (b) he’d been given a warning or any disciplinary action or that (c) Kelvin Wilson was on strike over wanting to move to Celtic.  He later went on to state that he’d never had any cross words with either Mark Arthur, Nigel Doughty or the rest of the board – and spoke of his respect for all of them.

He was very animated about the press, bordering on paranoia.  He was at pains to point out he only has one advisor – a lawyer – who has not been talking to Celtic, nor has ever had any dealings with Forest beyond the initial dealings to sign him up.  He reiterated to fans not to believe these rumours – and pointed out that certain teams not too geographically far from us would be delighted at the thought of a fractured dressing room or disharmony in the backrooms at Forest.

Then we come on to the second half – a sizeable stack of questions could have been whittled very quickly had Fletch scrapped the ‘why didn’t we sign so-and-so’, ‘is so-and-so a target’, ‘why haven’t we signed a left back’ questions – all of these were largely met with the same answer… “my position at the club is to advise and recommend, and work with the resources I have…”

I can understand the slight frustration that was in the room, but personally was glad to see Billy behaving professionally.  For a couple of fans this spilled over into heckling which visibly pissed off the wee fella – I can see why, too.  He’d laid out what he was and wasn’t prepared to discuss, but seemingly that wasn’t good enough for some people who made their feelings plain – which was a pity, but kinda inevitable as anyone who’s been to any of these nights would no doubt attest.

One of the few names discussed was McGoldrick – the question was actually around how he got his injury, but Billy took the opportunity to have a bit of a soapbox moment – and all credit to him for it.  He compared him to Diego Forlan’s time at United, roundly derided as a poor signing – but now on the back of a fantastic World Cup.  He stated that McGoldrick a player that many Forest fans will owe an apology to in the future – I believe he’s right, too – I see great potential in the lad.

Another scapegoat mentioned was James Perch – he said that as a former captain of the club (albeit in an acting capacity) fans should show a little more gratitude.  He pointed out what probably most right-minded Forest fans realise which is he was a tremendous worker, perhaps with limited ability – but a real grafter and who was a pleasure to work with and have in the squad.  Sentiments that sound very akin to my parting story about him!

When asked about Forest’s general communication with fans Billy wouldn’t be drawn, citing it being company policy – this lead to Fletch offering the tantalising suggestion of an Evening with both Mark Arthur and Billy Davies.  Billy was animatedly supportive of this idea – Fletch said he’d make the calls to see if it could happen, although this was before the heckling which might well put Billy off future appearances.

A fairly innocuous question around commitment seemed to prickle him immensely – a number of times he passionately spoke of his desire to move Forest on as a club, to him anything less than the play-offs next season would be a disappointment, and a number of times he invited the room to come down to training to see how committed he, his team and his players are on a day to day basis.

More specific questions included which one player would he sign if he could – he chose Nicky Shorey, his career highlight to date which was saving Forest from relegation.  Whether or not there is a wage cap in force at the club at present – there isn’t, and would he sign a new contract with Forest – without doubt yes, but a contract would have to be offered.  He was quite pointed about this!

I missed the first Billy Davies night – but certainly this time he has either decided – or been told – not to talk about certain areas as openly as he may have last time.  I don’t like to try to speculate but sometimes one got the impression more was being said than literally – if you read between the lines – but to try to interpret that it makes me no better than the media outlets that seem to get a buzz from putting words in Billy’s mouth.

My lasting impressions of him were a man who is passionate, driven and desperate to succeed with Forest.  He stated he’d never walked out of a contract, and wasn’t about to start – so the only way he’s leaving is if pushed – he maintained his relationship with the powers-that-be is good, so that seems unlikely too.  For those fans hoping for a public tantrum – and I think there were a fair few there, sadly – they might’ve been disappointed.

Certainly the higher echelons of the Forest command could take a leaf from Billy’s book – his willingness to face a room of fans and take questions is brilliant and I take my hat off to him for doing so, however I fear a minority element might well have dissuaded him from doing it again in the future – and probably consequently scuppered the admittedly small chance that Mark Arthur might have made an appearance at a future event.

All in all an illuminating evening – like any football fan and wannabe journalist a part of me was hoping he’d dish the dirt and gossip, but ultimately I’m pleased that Billy conducted himself with dignity and professionalism in what he would and wouldn’t disclose.  Of course, it got a bit repetitive at times, which is where it could’ve been hosted a little more graciously – but fair play to Darren Fletcher, he does generally do a pretty good job!

Hopefully that covers things – given that I’ve already smashed 1600 words as I type I certainly think I’ve waffled on for long enough, but obviously if you were these and think I’ve missed anything then please make use of the comments – or of course should you wish to make comment on the things I did recall!

Billy: Ignore the bullshit, I’m here to stay..

First half of Billy Davies night is just over, and the gaffer has been on an impassioned charm offensive. He’s been at pains to rubbish the numerous stories circulating – he’s not quitting, he’s not been disciplined by the club and Kelvin Wilson is not on strike.

He’s been quite guarded, and reiterated his role in the acquisition and sale of players is solely as an advisor. People hoping for an explosive airing of dirty laundry in public are probably disappointed – but personally I’m impressed by his passion and clear appreciation of us, the fans.

Will post more later, but Billy ain’t quitting – and the press is full of – in his words – bollocks.

New home kit leaked..

It’s been covered elsewhere, but in the absence of any transfer news to comment on, the leaking of Forest’s new kit for the season is probably the most exciting news we’ve had this week.  Actually, I’m quite liking it, it’s simple, unfussy and definitely a Forest kit – which is always a good thing.  Certainly better than last season’s effort which looked like something Umbro found in the back of a cupboard and stitched a Forest logo on to.

The shirt was leaked on Football Shirt Culture – and if you click on the link there you can see further pics from different angles, given the simplicity of the design, it’s not hard to imagine!  I think I might actually – unusually for recent Forest kits – buy one of these, I hope they have long sleeved versions available as I reckon that would look quite smart.

Despite the positivity, I’d still rather be writing about an exciting new signing, Forest!

Joe’s Garner go to Huddersfield..

Hot on the heels of news that Dele Adebola’s injury wasn’t as bad as first feared, the Reds decided that they could do with one less striker by loaning out Joe Garner to League One Huddersfield Town for 6 months.  Personally I’m a bit disappointed, whilst I concede fully he’s got some rough edges, I really rate Joe and wanted to see him get a run in the side.

Having said that, if he isn’t in Billy’s plans (I assume he knew about this outgoing transfer after Perch-gate!) then it is definitely prudent to get him out on loan to get regular first team football.  I hope that is the only reason and it’s not with a view to disposing of him permanently – not least because we are very unlikely to recoup anything near what we paid Carlisle for him!

I’ve still heard nothing but rumour-peddling on the incoming transfers front – certainly I’m not the kind of person who’s likely to get too frustrated just yet, but on the back of being rather spoiled last season with incomings – it is starting to get a touch concerning.  I’m certainly looking forward to the evening with Billy Davies at The Approach next week if there doesn’t seem to be any activity by then.

In other news, the Reds had two teams out for friendlies tonight – a ‘weaker’ side (Smith, Lesseles, Gibbons, Anderson, McGugan, Adebola, Tyson, Artymatas, Moussi, Moloney, Lynch) went to Mansfield and triumphed 2-1 thanks to goals from Tyson and Adebola, a ‘stronger’ side (Camp, Gunter, N Byrne, Bennett, Cohen, Thornhill, McKenna, Majewski, McCleary, Earnshaw, Blackstock) went along with Billy to Tranmere and duly lost 2-0!

Probably the biggest question posed by that paragraph is who the hell some of those people are in the team that went to Mansfield!  I’m saving cash at the moment so have elected to ignore the temptation to go to pre-season friendlies, so if any of you popped up to Merseyside or North Nottinghamshire this evening please feel free to share your thoughts on the performances (either in comments or by email if you prefer!)

Gay footballers – appreciated or unwelcome?

Gareth Thomas: A Rugby League player who has come out as gay and been subjected to abuse from the stands...

Back in June I posted about a survey tackling the issue of homosexuality in football, and largely reinforcing the general view that it’s rather a taboo subject.  Hopefully a few of you clicked through the link and filled in the survey as a result to help the study – certainly there must have been a reasonable response as the survey has reached the next phase.

It’s a pretty short survey to fill in, and focuses on whether or not you think it likely that a gay footballer is likely to come out – or indeed, whether you think they should.  Without wishing to influence what you may or may not think, from my point of view I don’t really see it as any different to people in any walk of life – your sexuality is your own business.

From spending a lot of time amongst football fans it’s only too clear that there is a huge groundswell of homophobic attitudes – ranging from what many may consider to be good-natured jocular banter right through to quite scathing abuse.  Certainly speculation around sexuality is often seen as ‘fair game’ for football fans to capitalise on – ask Graeme Le Saux, Sol Campbell or Ashley Cole even.

Would I be bothered if a Forest player came out the closet and said “I’m gay”.  I’d like to think not, but it would be at the back of mind that it would lead to a continual torrent of – albeit mindless – abuse either on the messageboards and, of course, in the stands from visiting fans (maybe even some home fans too).  I’m not sure if that’s enough reason to think a player should remain in the closet.

Personally as a football fan I’m not really interested in many aspects of a player’s lifestyle – so long as they are behaving professionally when in the public eye even on or off the pitch, and – more importantly – performing on it, that really is the sum total of my interest in their lives.  I realise some people have a more in depth fascination with footballers – particularly fans of Premier League ‘galacticos’.

But I digress, whatever I think shouldn’t influence yourselves – but I’d urge you to click the link to help the study.  Personally I can’t really see the good that a campaign would do – much like the anti-racism campaign, it won’t change anyone’s deep-seated prejudices – I suppose it might deter them from expressing them openly if it might lead to punishment.

You can read more about the campaign in The Yorkshire Post by clicking here, and in The Sunday Herald by clicking here too.  You can fill in the survey by clicking here.  Thanks!

Doth the Swansea chairman protest too much?

Pratley - still apparently a Reds target

It’s been speculated since last January that we’d quite like to secure the services of Darren Pratley from Swansea City.  Indeed, recent rumours of the class Forest transfer-policy of a derisory bid have been doing the rounds over the last couple of days, to the point where Huw Jenkins – Swansea’s chairman – has felt compelled to break the usual silence we expect around these things.

There’s confirmation there that there has been contact between Forest and Swansea, which I think we all knew anyway really – but well, the rest of his comments seem to smack rather of desperation.  With Pratley one of their prime assets and in to the last year of his contract, it certainly would be the player who has the stronger negotiating position here.

Certainly I think this is a really good target for the Reds, a talented player who impressed me more in the games I saw Swansea play last season not involving Forest than against us.  Of course, given Swansea’s relative ease of passage in to this division it won’t be an easy signing to make – because the Jacks aren’t going to want to let him go, understandably.

It’s easy to read too much in to throwaway press comments, but when chairmen start complaining about rumours openly and stating that they’re doing everything they can to keep a player it always seems to end up looking silly.  Ultimately I think this will be decided by where the player himself wants to be – clearly he’s settled at Swansea but if he fancies a move to the Reds (or is being offered more cash), then I think we could swing it.

Should the maligned transfer acquisition panel secure the services of the midfielder it should certainly help steady the waters that seem to churning at Forest lately.  With Billy reportedly fuming at the lack of transfers coming in, it should make his forthcoming appearance at The Approach fascinating – let’s hope we’ve managed to do some business with Swansea before then to calm him down a bit!

Sometimes I wish things didn’t seem so soap operaish at Forest, and we could just give the impression of being a professionally run football club.  I suppose on the plus side it’s never dull, even if it is attempting to filter through rumours we have to contend with!

Are the Reds to be torn by tantrums?

It’s quite ironic that I just finished reading an account of two men who always seemed to struggle to get on with football directors and chairman.  Because we seem to be having a bit of history repeating itself on that score at the moment at the City Ground, with Billy spouting off in the press following the sale of James Perch to Newcastle purportedly behind his back.

Forest immediately released a statement to suggest this patently wasn’t true and that Wee Billy was informed throughout.  An interesting way for us fans to be kept up to date, as for who is right – I don’t suppose we’ll ever know – but the rumours coming from the City Ground suggest that his outburst has cost the manager a written warning for his trouble.

Obviously back in the days of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor the job of football management was somewhat different, they certainly didn’t have transfer acquisition panels – and indeed, if reports are to be believed had players signed, sealed and paid for without necessarily informing the board.  Whilst they make for charming stories, managers can’t really act like that these days.

I can understand Billy’s frustration – obviously his job is to deliver results and build a winning squad, a principle way to do that is to

  • (a) move players on who don’t fit his plans (preferably for a fee)
  • (b) sign players to fill gaps in the squad and
  • (c) develop the existing players.

We’ve known for a while Billy doesn’t have full control of (b), but if (a) is going on without his knowledge then it’s not surprising he’s getting a bit testy.  He’s judged on results, and certainly – as things stand – he’s going to be left with a squad considerably weaker than last seasons given injuries, lack of some of our loanees and the sale of Perch.

I’m not sure whose side of the story to believe, but suggestion of unrest is bound to cause the fans to feel unsettled.  It would be typical Forest to round off what was a tremendous season with something stupid – let’s face it, historically we’ve been very good at that.  Certainly the communication from the board at Forest has always been appalling, but their clumsy press statement almost smacks at some kind of rushed truth.

Anyway, certainly I’m not reading all that much in to it – let’s face it, Billy’s been making splashes since he arrived – and if it gets things done, then that’s good.  The ambition of delivering on the pitch, and that of ensuring the books balance are never going to be in harmonious accord for, well, any of the time realistically.  Maybe a bit of tension in those relationships is a good thing.

In nicer news, the Reds won their first friendly in Portugal 2-1 this evening thanks to goals from Earnie and Thornhill.  Forest lined up with Camp, Gunter, Wilson, Chambers, Cohen, McCleary, McKenna, Thornhill, Anderson, Earnshaw and Garner for the match against S.C. Olhanense in the Algarve, taking a 2-0 half time lead before conceding a second half consolation goal.

The Reds fly back to England on Monday where their domestic pre-season games start in earnest, and hopefully the Forest board and management team can settle whatever differences they may or may not have and get their arses into gear and get some bloody signings made!