Advertisements
  • Twitter (@nffcblog)

    • Now it's rumoured Paul Faulkner has resigned due to his position being 'untenable' - worrying times #nffc 3 years ago
    • Odd move. Freedman one of few managers with a lower win % than Pearce at this level. Good luck, Dougie. #nffc 3 years ago
    • And so it comes to pass that impatience holds sway once again. A sad day. Will we get it right tomorrow? #nffc 3 years ago
  • Members

A new year riot kicks off in Derby..

Through the wonders of technology a final post for the year (or possibly a first one of the new year depending on how well it publishes it according to my instructions) to point a childish finger and chuckle down the A5-2 – after all, what better way is there?

Those of you reading, 2010 has been a blast – we’ve had highs and we’ve had lows on the field – but we’ve not lost at home in regular league fixture for one thing – amongst plenty to be pleased about.  Thank you all for your support over the year which sees the site continue its’ upward trajectory in popularity, I really appreciate it.

At the moment this post goes live I’ll be in a drunken circle of people singing Auld Lang Syne, and starting to regret the fact I drank quite so much given our game against Barnsley on New Years Day.

A very Happy New Year to you all, even the Derby fans who might happen upon the site from time to time (so long as that doesn’t extend to your game against Preston of course!).  Cheers!

Advertisements

Derby County’s next manager waiting in the wings..

Simply known as 'Barry from Burton', nobody knows the identity of Clough's heir apparent..

It’s a bit childish, hell, it’s a lot childish.  But it’s funny.  Have a listen to the link below, it’s basically Derby’s equivalent to Matchtalk on their local BBC radio station.  Of course, it’s a completely sadistic and slightly mean spirited thing to sit and listen to them in their darkest hour, trying to understand what just happened to them down the A5-2…

.. but it is really funny, and it’s unveiled Derby’s self-styled successor to Nigel Clough.  Barry from Burton is not only a qualified PE teacher and Sports Psychologist, but he’s also been working on sport reporting for some notable newspaper publications for the last decade or so.  Despite this he thought Nigel Clough (or ‘the number 9’ to his Dad) was a midfielder as a player.

Y’know, that fella who holds the number two spot in the Nottingham Forest all time scoring charts, played for England, up front!  I would urge you all to click on this link and have a listen – if you get impatient listening to Nigel’s moaning then fast forward to 18 minutes or so and listen from there, however, I do think there’s value in the full hour (sad songs aside).

Colin Bloomfield, I salute you for a tremendous show.  Thank you!  Listen while you can, it’ll only be there for a week or so!

Forest vs. Barnsley preview..

As we all have that nice mellow comedown from yesterday’s demolition job on Derby, we have the visit of the Tykes to look forward to as we’re trying to shake off New Years Eve hangovers.  Billy has been quick to talk of not losing focus, and will have the lads well prepared for a game that is inevitably going to be a bit of a comedown after such a spectacular win.

Barnsley have had a tricky festive period – losing on Boxing Day to Burnley at home, and then travelling to Swansea and again suffering defeat on the 28th.  Forest, of course, are on a decent run – particularly at home, where we now are in the midst of a run of 30 league games unbeaten.  Not bad at all really, but certainly a record teams will be looking to end, and the Tykes will be no different!

Whilst the Derby game was relatively clean, it’s likely we’ll be missing Ryan Bertrand who picked up a hamstring injury.  That gives Billy a few options to consider – he might play Chris Cohen there, which was his initial choice when Ryan had to leave the action, or possibly Kelvin Wilson who later slotted into that most troublesome of positions.  Hopefully Ryan’s injury isn’t too bad.

Paul McKenna’s continued absence was apparently enhanced by a virus recently, so the skipper might be back in contention should Billy want to shuffle his midfield pack.  McGoldrick and Adebola remain highly unlikely to feature with their knee problems and, of course, Dexter Blackstock.  Aside from that, we’re in pretty good shape!

Barnsley are only unable to call on Garry O’Connor – his loan from Birmingham has become permanent, but for reasons I’m sure someone who cares more than me might know he’s ineligible for this game.  Adam Hammill is the one to look out for, with eight goals already this season – the Tykes are likely to have to fend off interest in him when the transfer window opens.

It’s really hard to not let the buoyancy of last night’s game let you get carried away, as I seem to normally say – our opponents are not to be underestimated, and I’m sure Billy Davies will be instilling the same thing into his side.  Despite their recent slip-ups, Barnsley are dangerous on their day and not far from us in point terms (four points behind, having played one more game).

That said, we are a tough prospect at home – probably the trip that teams relish the least, and we should take confidence from that little nugget for as long as it lasts.  Hopefully the excitement of our last game will coax some extra people to the ground from the ashes of their revelries from their new year celebrations and we can enjoy a decent crowd.

Certainly I’m hoping Billy doesn’t alter too much, because elements of our starting eleven against Derby were working wonderfully.  Certainly with the injuries it seems likely Earnie and Tudgay will continue to develop their partnership which is looking great – aside from leftback the defence is pretty self-selecting, midfield of course is more difficult to predict!

I’m sure Davies and team will have been keeping a close eye on Barnsley’s latest performances and have the team suitably prepared.  It’s difficult to not feel confident of getting a win, hopefully the team aren’t suffering with the same degree of complacency I feel guilty of exhibiting in writing this!

Best game in history?..

Nottingham Forest – 5
Derby County – 2

Perhaps not the best game in history, but our best scoreline over Derby – who are the worst team in history – and one hell of a way to round off the Christmas period, so the pun was irresistible.  What a way to preserve our unbeaten home league record for the full calendar year of 2010.  Whilst the game played out more to form, this one always had ‘potential banana skin’ written on it, such is the nature of this.

A surprisingly unfeisty encounter – where a dispassionate and shambolic Derby side were summarily despatched with a – whilst handsome – scoreline, one that, if anything, is pretty flattering to our visitors rather than ourselves – as we spurned countless other opportunities to make the net bulge whilst conceding two incredibly sloppy goals – one a good finish, but poor marking, the other a scuffed freekick that shouldn’t have been given.

But still, these are but mere perfectionist quibbles in what was for Forest fans a very pleasant evening’s work from the boys in Red – not that there weren’t jangling nerves, that’s par for the course with this fixture!  Billy’s team selection as usual defied prediction:

Camp
Gunter    Morgan    Chambers    Bertrand
Ramsey   Moussi    Majewski    Tyson
Earnshaw    Tudgay

I was particularly surprised – with no disrespect intended – to see Tyson starting, until I saw that Derby had opted to put Dean Leacock at right back.  Aside from the fact he has no pace, vision or ability, it was of course Leacock amongst others who caused the whole corner-flag incident to, well, become an incident rather than just Tys running around with a flag!

Derby kicked off, and spooned the ball forward ending up with Lee Camp, the next touch they would get would be to concede a corner, which was expertly taken by Raddy Majewski – finding Chambers quite far out, and with at least three Derby shirts surrounding him, to plant a very well taken header into the roof of the net.

What is it about Derby and early goals?  2 minutes on the clock, one nil to the Reds.  However, the Rams struck back on 14 minutes.  Forest’s marking was pretty atrocious and a burst forward from Bueno saw the loan man feed a decent ball through to fellow loanee Luke Moore who was able to beat Wes for pace which hit the bar, I thought via a hand from Camp but it’s hard to be sure, and spun back into the net.

It woke up the Derby fans for probably their most vociferous spell of the game – although it also woke up Forest, Bertrand broke well down the left and crossed to Earnie, who miscontrolled initially before getting it back under his powers – but poking a fairly tame shot goalward which Bywater had no problem gathering up.  Raddy had a pop from range but it deflected and was ultimately saved to win us a corner.

The sustained Reds possession and pressure finally got us the lead back on 24 minutes.  Earnie looked to have gotten a bit lost taking the ball wide to the bye-line but did brilliantly to hook the ball over where Tudgay steamed in with a fantastic header that struck the bar and – according to the linesman at least – crossed the line, because I wasn’t at all sure at the time – looking forward to seeing the highlights!

Moments later and Earnie was one-on-one with Bywater but opted to loft the ball over the ‘keeper, and the goal, rather than simply sidefoot it either around or through the legs of Bywater, who was doing his best impression of a star-fish at that point so couldn’t have been too difficult to find a route past, we were desperate for him to get a goal to give him a much needed confidence boost.

With ten minutes left of the half Bertrand was withdrawn with what looked like a hamstring injury – hopefully I’m wrong, and regardless hopefully it’s nothing serious.  Chris Cohen came on to replace him and slotted in at left-back.  Meanwhile Commons, who’d been quiet so far, got a half chance from range which he kick tamely straight at Lee Camp from around 20 yards.

Tys, who was having a great game running at the hapless Leacock (who’d been booked early doors for a typically clumsy foul on Tyson) did well to trick his way to the edge of the area before putting the ball across the face of the goal but Aaron Ramsey and Robbie Earnshaw couldn’t quite get to it to get us the third goal.

It was Tyson who was the architect of the third goal though – a great burst down the left leaving the hopeless Derby defenders in his wake, before a frankly delicious cross into the area where Tudgay rose from between two defenders to plant a header into the net – no question of this one crossing the line.  As with his first goal, Tudgay accepted his teammates’ congratulations but didn’t celebrate – shows a bit of class, that does (take note, for later).

So half time and 3-1 up and playing very well with hopeless opponents.  Doesn’t sound too dissimilar to last season really, does it?  We were three nil up then at half time and had a rocky road to travel in the second half – so there was a mixture of cheeriness and a fair bit of nervousness.  Surely non-league Nigel would give them a rocket and get them fired up at half time?

Early indications would suggest not – Earnie again was one-on-one very early in the half but seemed to slip or stumble as he pulled to trigger resulting in an easy save for Bywater.  Tyson was still strolling down the left flank at will, eventually Clough decided, oddly, to switch Leacock and Brayford, marooning his one vaguely performing defender at rightback and leaving the hapless Leacock and Barker in the middle.

Tyson’s latest foray down the left wing culminated to him cutting in and going for the shot which – in fairness – wasn’t too far off, although I couldn’t help but look to the three or so red shirts in the box better placed to hit the target.  Of course, there would have been no complaints if Tys had stuck it in the net – if he had, I wonder if he’d have utilised a corner flag in his goal celebrations?

As if he sensed the frustrations of his last decision, Tys again on the left but this time opted to cross in to the centre of the penalty area where Earnie finally got the ball in the net, getting a toe on it to put it past Bywater to give us a three goal cushion and settle the nerves somewhat.   For a brief moment at least…

Used to play for a big club

Straight from the kick off Derby pushed forward and Commons fell over as presumably he ran out of breath, the referee interpreted this as a foul (I won’t slag off the ref though, by and large he had a very good game).  The chubster himself lined up to take it and, again, I need to see a replay – but he either scuffed it or it deflected, either way, it appeared to go under the wall and totally wrong-footed Camp and went in.

Unlike Tudgay who showed composure when scoring against a former club, Commons elected to goad the supporters in the Brian Clough stand with a display of ‘faux fat belly’ and badge-pointing.  The utterly shit Dean Leacock joined in.  It was a little bit like when Waghorn ‘shushed’ the Trent End after he scored the consolation goal in our 5-1 demolition of Leicester City last season at the City Ground!

At this point it’s fair to say that nerves were jangling and Derby did have a better spell.  It was whilst defending a corner (always a risky move in my book!) that Billy put on Kelvin Wilson for the excellent Aaron Ramsey, putting Cohen into midfield and Kelv slotting into left-back.  The corner ultimately came to nothing, so what do I know about making subs at that point?

The loss of Ramsey’s cool head in midfield did see us shaken for a while and Derby did have possession – although they invariably lost it cheaply.  They had one excellent opportunity where substitute Chris Porter got some space in the right channel and put the ball across our penalty area – Chris Gunter calmly dummied it (or missed it!) whilst Derby players slid in either side of him to try to poke it in the goal.

Tyson was our last player to be withdrawn – we guessed that by his switching to the right wing, and he didn’t exactly hurry off the pitch to be replaced by Paul Anderson.  This seemed to incense the Derby bench and shortly after a kerfuffle former Forest player Johnny Metgod was sent to the stand for one too many tantrums at the fourth official.  Tys was taking this piss a bit, but his departure still took less than the 30 seconds referees add on for subs anyway.

All that remained was for Tudgay to return Earnie’s earlier favour – the worthy man-of-the-match put an excellent cross into the area where Earnshaw was under pressure from Barker, but should still have done better than to put the ball over from close range.  He made up for it moments later though, blasting the ball in during stoppage time to make it 5-2 – as noted above, a scoreline that is flattering to Derby more than us!

A really excellent win, and a great way to seal an unbeaten 2010 at the City Ground.  Hats off to Billy for exploiting Derby’s many weaknesses – although I think any of our midfielders would have had a similar field day, special praise should go to those that were selected – a great performance all round that left non-league Nigel ranting at specific players in his post-mach interview, which further lowers the esteem I once held him in…

Barnsley up next on New Years Day – but I can’t help but have half an eye on the return fixture in three weeks time…

A trip back in time..

Jack Burkitt receives the FA Cup from the Queen

Usually Reds fans of my age lament missing out on the European Cup winning era – but they might have overlooked an earlier side of significance.  It’s one I’ve mentioned a few times, and having missed out on the late 70s and early 80s it’s one I most definitely missed out on.  Thanks to the generous Tikabooson, I had a chance to relive the 1959 FA Cup Final in full.

The first thing that strikes you is obviously the black and white coverage – a Wembley Stadium with no advertising hoardings, and just a lone commentator talking about – well, the match!  No inane babble from a clueless sidekick, no instant replays, and only occasional reminders of the scoreline by way of on screen graphics – not so much as a clock on screen.

In terms of the game itself – well, much has changed – tackles from behind, use of elbows did result in freekicks when spotted but little else, backpasses to the ‘keeper – indeed, even goalkicks were often played to a defender and back to the ‘keeper for a long punt, there appeared to be men having a picnic near one o the corner flags – goalkeepers were afforded very little protection!

Those are the differences – much of the game hasn’t changed as much as you’d think.  I saw nutmegs, stepovers, backheels – Forest played an offside trap and a fast-paced counterattacking game.  I suppose the formation they played would be very close to the 4-3-3/4-5-1 you often see today.  Forest played some excellent stuff in the first half – a really hardworking and talented side.

Forest take an early lead – Imlach plays a great ball to Dwight who lashes it into the net.  Wilson doubles the lead after not too long – shortly before taking a firm clearance into his gentleman’s region.  Legendary commentator Kenneth Wolstenholme was a little more diplomatic in his description of why Wilson might have found himself writhing in agony on the floor for a while.

Moments after Luton taking the worst corner I’ve ever seen (and I’m a Forest fan, remember!) a long clearance heads towards Dwight who collides with Town defender McNally.  The referee waves play-on, Imlach taps it out of play and the physio is summoned – amazingly even after this the intent is to carry on before Dwight collapses again and is stretchered off.  It turns out with a broken leg!

There aren’t any substitutes back then, Forest play on for more than half the game with ten men.  Luton don’t throw the ball back to Forest, as is clearly not the custom yet – Forest don’t do so either later in the game when Luton appear to put the ball out of play when McDonald is down injured.

Another classic Wolstenholme moment is his apologising for the periodic score caption reading ‘Notts Forest’ – commenting that there’d be no need to write in and complain now!  With the lack of modern acoustic recording equipment the crowd noise is very much in the background so you can’t really pick up much beyond the cheers and a dull background noise, aside from a moment when you can hear the Forest fans singing ‘Robin Hood’!

As the game wears on the Reds tire and make more mistakes, and pick up injuries too – Burkitt had been on the deck, Whare was also troubled by a knee problem.  Both played on, but the increasing pressure from Luton paid dividends, a short corner wasn’t anticipated allowing the Luton left-back to put a ball in which found its way to Pacey at the back stick, who makes no mistake.

Chic Thomson in the Forest goal didn’t have a great deal to do in the first half – but was on hand to make a smart save from Luton’s Morton.  Allan Brown – who would go on to become Forest manager – threatened our goal with a strange diving header but missed the target.  He would ultimately become the man that sold Duncan McKenzie to Brian Clough’s Leeds United – only to find himself replaced by Brian Clough shortly after!

Forest were suffering with a lot of injuries and cramps – although there wasn’t any real foul play at all.  Gray was a victim of cramp for Forest and was moved out to outside left whilst Imlach switched to outside right.  Brown again threatened with a diving header but puts it wide with the final whistle beckoning.  The assorted injuries conspiring to see referee – Jack Clough – add on a fair amount of time.

Thomson needed to be brave again to make a save – and finally the whistle came to end the game and give Forest the victory.  A real game of two halves – Forest totally dominant before Dwight’s injury and understandably less so after, although still eager to play decent counter-attacking football throughout despite being a man down for most of the game.

There were no ceremonies or messing around – the Forest team were straight up the steps for captain Jack Burkitt to claim the FA Cup from the Queen – as well as the medal for absent Roy Dwight.  The runners-up followed, finally Jack Clough and his assistants collected their medals and that was that.  I quite liked the no-nonsense approach to coverage compared to what we endure now.

Whilst replays have benefits to help you see what happened, this approach was more wholesome somehow.  There were times when it seemed clear a throw-in was given the wrong way – Wolstenholme didn’t challenge the referee, he just faithfully reported what was occurring.  Whilst there wasn’t much by way of contentious decisions, the players never challenged the referee either.

It just goes to show, the game has changed in many ways – often for the better, but this was a real eye-opener to see that much hasn’t, these were skilled players – athletic and brave – and of course, these were players that earned comparable wages to the hundred thousand people crammed into Wembley Stadium to watch the match.  It really is worth watching the match.

Forest vs. Derby County preview..

As if either set of fans needed more excuse to build themselves up ahead of this fixture, both sides were handed a Boxing Day mooch around with no football thanks to burst pipes and electrical failures respectively.  Indeed, for Reds fans at least postponements are becoming the norm as we’ve only played one game in the last month.

People say that in local derbies the formbook goes out of the proverbial window – certainly the red side of the A52 will be hoping this isn’t the case – Forest maintain their year-plus run of no defeats at the City Ground whilst the Rams have lost four league games on the bounce after impressive form lifted them into the play-off places.

The only injury concern for us – aside from the longer term absentees Blackstock and McGoldrick – is Dele Adebola who is still labouring wiht a knee injury picked up in the Leicester game.  With all due respect to the big striker, it could certainly be a lot worse.  I suppose the biggest selection poser for Billy is in midfield – and specifically whether to play captain Paul McKenna in the middle.

Derby will be without skipper Robbie Savage who cunningly got himself booked in order to be suspended for the visit of Doncaster, which was called off due to electrical failure.  They also have a doubt over another midfielder Stephen Pearson with a knee injury.  The absence of the Derby skipper means that there will be little to deflect the home fans vitriol from former Forest man Kris Commons.

Form is a bit of a misleading concept for the Reds given how little football we’ve played – but it’s been a pretty positive run, with the notable blip of our non-appearance at Leicester.  Wins against Palace, Cardiff and Coventry and a credible draw with QPR have seen us sneaking up the table before the postponed matches saw an artificial slide whilst our ‘games played’ column didn’t increment.

Derby have lost their last four – as mentioned above, at the hands of Reading, Bristol City, Norwich and Burnley, prior to that they beat Scunthorpe at home, and then another loss at Leicester.  Before that, though, they were on an excellent run of results – beating Ipswich, Portsmouth, Watford, Doncaster and Preston – with a defeat at the hands of Millwall in between.

My Ram-supporting spies also inform me that despite the poor run of results they’re on they are actually playing some decent football.  Despite them previously not liking him, the acknowledge the loss of Savage is not ideal for them – their talismanic and widely disliked captain putting in some decent performances.

Last season doesn’t need much reminding of – the home game saw the Reds romp to a 3-0 lead at half time, but a nerve-racking second half saw the Rams battle back to 3-2 providing a tense finish.  The game ended with Nathan Tyson celebrating with a corner flag innocently enough before the intervention of a number of embittered Derby players saw a load of handbags that were blown out of all proportion (and oddly centred on Tyson’s supposedly bad behaviour).

At Pride Park a less auspicious showing from the Reds saw our 18 game unbeaten run away from home ended thanks to the inevitable Rob Hulse goal against us.  Once again the game ended on an ugly note with a bit of a melee culminating in Billy Davies making laughably pantomime claims that Nigel Clough had ‘kneed’ him – which was borne out by video footage afterwards, although as far as I’m aware no action was taken.

It’s sometimes customary to reflect on connections between the two clubs – but right through history there’ve been so many you could write a book about that!  Current connections obviously start with the two managers, both played for their now opponents (albeit very briefly in Billy’s case), but Nigel Clough had a very auspicious career as Forest’s number nine under his dad.

In the starting elevens it’s likely that we’ll see Camp, Earnshaw and Tudgay – all of whom have spent time with the Rams as players.  Blackstock of course was on loan to the Rams briefly, whilst in the visitors line-up Derby’s key player this season with 12 goals is Kris Commons, former Reds midfielder.  They will also have Shaun Barker lining up, a boyhood Forest fan and Forest target before he signed for them.

Should Derby opt to play the open football they’ve been playing this season it could be a really tense open game – going forward they pose a threat, whilst in defence they can look calamitous.  Whilst I’d like to predict a whitewash (or a redwash?), I certainly don’t think their recent results represent their performances or capabilities.

Certainly an ill-tempered fixture is likely, so the referee will need to be both strong and fair – the atmosphere will be tense, and – well, with plenty of sets of fans still off work for the week I imagine the supporters will be ‘well lubricated’ and getting into the spirit of things.  I should be suitably noisy – even without the ‘singing section’ that Derby apparently requested from the Forest ticket office!

If it wasn’t the fact it was Derby I’d predict a win reasonably confidently (with the usual disclaimers I attach to such predictions!), but if ever a team would be motivated to come to the City Ground and get a result this is it – and even without Savage to get the crowd wound up and spur them on, they’ll certainly provide us with a stern test.

But we’re still going to win.*

* I hope!

Billy Davies sex allegations are a misunderstanding..

After outlandish allegations were made in the Daily Record as part of an investigation into one of Billy’s old friends Tommy Sheridan, the true nature of any arrangement between the two men has come to light…