Steve Hodge was my first favourite Forest player as a young whipper-snapper. At Primary school everyone was a Liverpool or Everton fan, with a few Forest fans thrown in – I was never that into football – but decided to have an affinity with my local team. I could probably only name about three Forest players, Stuart Pearce, Nigel Clough and Steve Hodge.
Because the other couple of Forest fans in my circle of friends had picked the first two, just as I’d shunned the more popular teams in the playground, I went with Steve Hodge. As I learned more about the side in the late 80s it turns out I didn’t make a bad choice – hardworking and dangerous both in creating chances, and snagging goals – and a local lad to boot!
Back then I used to fancy myself as a bit of an artist – I’d draw pictures of Forest players, and send them in the post to the City Ground addressed to Hodgey asking him to get them signed – they always came back, too – I’ll always have tremendous respect to him for that, it made my day as a kid to get my (looking back, terrible!) pictures signed. So thanks, Steve! I think they’re still in the loft somewhere.
This is quite rightly touted as a chronicle not only of Steve Hodge’s career – but also a tale of the last age of innocence in the world of football – before stupid money came in, before it was weighted in favour of the rich over the poor, when the underdogs could still ultimately prevail – it’s the era of the game I fell in love with before the Premier League came along and made it all a bit shit.
Naturally to us Reds the Forest career (over two spells) of Hodge is fascinating enough, but of course he had a career that took in characters like Paul Gascoigne, Eric Cantona and – of course – Diego Maradona in that game. That was the game where he acquired the shirt – a proper relic of football history, what a great memento of an admittedly very painful day!
Written in a very engaging style you’ll fly through the pages – and thanks to his habit of diary keeping perhaps the recollections in here are sharper than many similar books which can feel a bit vague. I’d thoroughly recommend giving it a read – a great chronicle of Forest coming out of one glorious era into their secondary spell of greatness.
For all that though there was a bit of a ‘never meet your heroes’ moments – it struck me that the tenacious midfielder whose play I so admired was pretty impatient when things went wrong, he seemed quick to bail out of clubs – including Forest – when he felt things weren’t going his way – indeed, he spent a long time being abused by Villa fans!
But well, Hodgey provided invaluable service to the Reds, and – in true Brian Clough style – we sold him for £450k to Villa, whilst we went backwards in buying him from Spurs for £550k (£100k less than they spent on him), we ended up selling him to Leeds for £900k – so we made a tidy profit, and of course Hodge got a league championship medal.
It’s only eleven quid on Amazon as I write – and I’d heartily recommend it (then again, I generally do for Forest books!).
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