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My seventh season of Forest blogging – maybe I broke a mirror just before I started?  I honestly can’t quite recall.  This promises to be a bit of a landmark year though – not necessarily through achievements on the field, which will be a challenge considering.

Last season saw lots of changes happen – the Chairman who has been at the helm since I started this site stepped down, along with his manager.  He was replaced by Steve Cotterill, whilst Frank Clark arrived to keep Mr Doughty’s seat warm – but alas, Nigel Doughty was to pass away whilst feeling unwelcome at his own football club.  A sad time, and an uncertain future for a club battling against relegation with a hapless manager.

Well, we escaped that fate – and over a busy summer eventually Nottingham Forest were purchased from the estate of Nigel Doughty by the Al Hasawi family from Kuwait.  They have installed Sean O’Driscoll as manager and tasked him with rebuilding what has become a decimated squad.  The early signs are very good – we are not talking ostentatious ‘name’ seeking, we’ve been sensibly filling our vacancies with sustainable and solid players.

As I write the season is days away from starting – and expectations are for development, for consolidation and hopefully a solid mid-table finish (or better?).  We shall see.  Just reading through past ruminations on this very page shows that expectations and reality are rarely comparable!

Blurb from 2011/12 season:

Year six – if this blog was a secondary education I’d be half way through my A-Levels now.  We are on to our third permanent manager in those years now after Billy Davies was dismissed and replaced with former-England manager Steve McClaren.  Or Schteve, as I imagine I’ll struggle to resist not calling him.

Another season gone, another play-off campaign, another defeat in the semi-finals.  For the first time for Forest there wasn’t humiliation – some shocking refereeing denied them penalties in the home leg against ten-man Swansea, in the second leg the woodwork denied us numerous times, whilst the Swans capitalised and went through to the final – and ultimately the Premier League.

As I write (in June) there’s been more news of outgoing signings than incoming – with Adebola and Tyson gone, McKenna just about gone, Moussi and Earnshaw apparently mulling over contract offers – and little or no news of incoming targets as we await the unveiling of our new manager tomorrow.  It could be worse, we could be Cardiff, who nobody seems to want to manage!

Given my lack of ability at publicising my modest efforts, it is pleasing to note that traffic continues to grow to the site, as do your interactions – my frequency of posting is certainly more select than it used to be, which I think is better – perhaps.  I’m not sure.  Certainly it’s still been fun, probably owing to the fact that Forest never seem to manage an ‘average’ season!

Here’s to 2011/2012 – my season ticket is primed and ready, it promises to be an exciting time under Schteve McClaren.  At least I hope that it does!

Blurb from 2010/2011 season:

This is year five in the blog project – originally started as a place for my reflections and a quiet hope that I would be able to provide some kind of chronicle of Forest rising from the depths of League One into a period of more prominence which we all want.  Last season looked like that might just come to fruition.

Alas, a third place finish ended with further play-off humiliation, and a disappointing summer in the transfer market (although signing Radi and Bertrand in on loan are both good moves) has impacted moods somewhat.  I’m late in updating this page this season so already know we’ve had a disappointing start results-wise, but there are positives to take from performances (as well as areas for improvement!).

Even with a disappointing start to the season, we already find ourselves just nudging ahead of Derby in the league table as I write.

The other big news that occurred for me within the last few months was that my blog welcomed its’ one millionth visitor, which is something I find utterly bamboozling.  So many of you read through, and many of you leave your own thoughts in the comments which makes the whole experience so much better.  Adding in increased Twitter and Facebook activity has also added other facets to the site.

So as I’ve said before a huge thank you to all of you for your continued support and contributions, it really does make the difference I think otherwise it would just be me voicing my views unchecked.  It’s great to get counterpoints and discussion going, so long may it continue!

Blurb from 2009/2010 season

So this is the fourth season I will have been blogging about Forest.  That seems like a scarily long time!  To recap, I had wanted to chronicle the rise of a phoenix from the ashes of League One.  After a somewhat stuttering start, it is starting to feel like the raison ‘d’être of this site might finally come to fruition.  And I don’t mean I’ve taken a liking to sultanas!

As I’ve opted to update this on 23rd July, Forest have signed nine promising players – and are still being linked to more.  The levels of optimism are high that certainly there will at least be an improvement on last season’s limping to safety in The Championship, and that we might make an assault on the top half of the table, or – dare we hope – challenge for promotion?

Certainly I feel a sense of renewed confidence – my own more modest ambition of six points against Derby, a top half finish and above our sheep-bothering neighbours doesn’t feel too unrealistic, certainly the all-time record against Derby has been turning undeniably in their favour lately – so I would be pleased to see us redress the balance back to our favour.

For the blog, traffic is as busy as ever, indeed, busier than ever!  More than 250,000 visits over the last year makes me feel incredibly smug and bashful at the same time.  The blog actually also made it into print – albeit as a small ‘mini example’ in a book about internet marketing, there is also the prospect of more devoted making-it-into-print later this year – watch this space.

My plan is to continue as before, certainly my lack of commercial savvy and inclination I think adds to the experience.  As ever I remain indescribably grateful to you, my visitors, and in particular those of you who take the time to comment on my blog posts, and even more in particular to those of you who comment regularly, or correspond with me by email or Twitter.  I really do appreciate it more than I can express in words.

Back on to Forest – let’s hope we are indeed taking the next step towards regaining top flight status.  I will always set more cautious targets, so reattaining our rightful status as top East Midlands club will do me for a start.  With Leicester City back in the mix it will be a hotly contested title this season, that’s for sure!

Below are assorted previous incarnations of this page (along with an ‘update log’ of notable things that might have happened along the journey).

The blurb from 2008/2009 season:

I type this at the end of my second season of blogging about Forest, looking forward to the heady heights of Championship football next season after an unexpected automatic promotion!  (Come on, how many of us had any faith in April 2008 that it would still happen?!).

From the tiniest of acorns has sprung something larger than I could ever have anticipated, picking up thousands of hits some days and loads of regular commenters, the site begins to almost have a community feel from it.  The feedback I’ve found around the web has been broadly positive, with the odd criticisms which I’ve taken note of as well.

My original hope was to provide some kind of fans-eye documentary of the rebirth of Nottingham Forest into some degree of prominence, and after a season of stuttering perhaps this dream is going to be realised as we celebrate promotion with talk of investment, competing and a desire to get back to the top flight.  Of course, any Forest fan worth their salt would take these dreams with a healthy dose of cynicism, but it could be an exciting time, or it could be another false dawn.

The blurb from 2007/2008 season:

I started this little blog shortly after the 2006/2007 kicked off.  Foolishly I had hoped a little bit that it would be a triumphant journal of the beginning of our climb back up the leagues after years in the Wilderness.   Alas it transpired I’ve been inadvertantly chronicling the events leading up to officially the lowest ebb in our history.

There was never really any plan behind this site, just a place for me to ramble away about Forest and vent my creative urges.  Since it has been picked up by a few news sites and a band of regular readers and commenters, it’s become an area for discussion and debate, both between Forest fans as well as with those of other clubs who inevitably feature from time to time in my writings.

It’s been an interesting journey so far, and as I type the 2007/2008 season is underway – and at this early stage Forest are showing little sign that this will be the year, but it’s early yet and things may change!  Below is the original “About” I penned around a year ago when I began this project.

Here’s the original blurb when I first set up the site (2006/2007 season)

I thought it would be interesting, more as a self-indulgence than anything, to keep a journal of a season of following Forest. Since I procrastinate too much I’ve already missed the start of the season with setting this up, but not by too much!

This time is a turbulent one in Forest’s history – we find ourselves at the lowest ebb in living memory of the club – it will hopefully be interesting to look back upon what will hopefully be a record of how these fortunes might change, or might not.

Whilst I try to be unbiased, I make no apologies for the biasedness and blatant football-related prejudice that is an inherent part of supporting a team!

Please do feel free to make use of the commenting facility should you wish to add your thoughts to anything written here.


Update: 13th November 2006 – It’s been about three months or so, and after nearly 30,000 hits, more comments than stories, and a general sense of purpose still (I half expected to have got bored by now!), I’d say the site is going well!

Update: 3rd January 2007 – Here we are again – 60,000 hits have been and gone, and commenting is still beating the number of stories – particularly since I seem to have riled a few Oldham fans! Since writing for Left Lion I’ve been getting a fair bit of traffic from them too – which is nice :)

Update: 15th January 2007 – I’ve had more than 78,000 hits now, which is pretty bonkers – although the interest in the Chelsea game seems to have generated quite a fair chunk of traffic. I’m not sure whether posting on so many Forest stories is sustainable so may be reining back in on the number of posts per day – but well, I’ll see if I can stick to that! :D

Update: 4th February 2007 – The most notable landmark has been reached – 100,000 hits have come and gone, at least partially thanks to the Nigel Doughty furore on a message board. There’s been a definite slowing in frequency of stories – but then there has been less to write about, with games more spaced out and the transfer window closed.

Update: 16th March 2007 – 130,000 hits or so down, it seems that earlier in the season when optimism was flowing I was able to churn out 2, 3 or even 4 stories a day – lately it’s been one a day if you’re lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view). Whilst it’s easy to rant and moan – I’ve tried to resist doing that too much here as well, I like to think of myself a vaguely rational!

Update: 27th April 2007 – 150,000 is breached! The series of Forest-inspired music I’ve been posting hasn’t really ignited the imagination as I’d hoped, I think I have a more warped sense of humour than most – but nonetheless, a steady stream of visitors as we near the end of the season, I do believe that I can probably chalk this little experiment up as a success story!

Update: 21st May 2007 – well, I’m teetering on the brink of 170,000 hits for the season, as it closes with one hell of a bang courtesy of Yeovil Town FC’s demolition of us at the City Ground.  Despite finishing fourth, I am dissatisfied with this season on the pitch, but have been very pleased with both writing and the reception of the blog, so will continue to work on it in the hope all football fans have that they may finally witness some kind of turn around in fortunes!

Update: 31st July 2007 – 200,000 hits has been breached!  I’ve been deliberately quiet over preseason as generally it doesn’t interest me a great deal.  So in just over a year a big landmark is reached – so I guess if I can hit 400,000 or more before the end of the season then I guess I must be doing something right!

Update: 27th August 2007 – I’ve altered the initial blurb at the top of this page a bit, as it was out of date.  I’ve also discovered that Leeds have a gigantic online following judging by the amount of hits and comments I end up with whenever a story mentions them.

Update: 19th May 2008 – I’ve not updated this page in ages!  The site goes from strength to strength, easily smashing last year’s hit total with plenty of time to spare.  Again, I’ve updated the blurb at the top (whilst retaining previous blurbs beneath).

Update: 19th July 2008 – The traffic to the site approaches 450,000 hits since conception; which is quite amazing, and significantly up compared to last year’s viewing figures.  All in all, that’s the proof of the pudding really – people are visiting, which is ace.  This preseason I’ve been a bit quiet on the posting front, as I was last year.  Once the season gets up and running properly I’m sure I’ll regain a bit of impetus.

Update: 23rd July 2009 – Gosh, I’ve not updated this page for a while. I’m about to write a new ‘blurb’ and archive last season’s one.  A year later and again we’re ‘up’ year on year – smashing 700,000 hits a few weeks ago to mean visitor numbers continue to grow.  With Forest signing (as I write) an impressive nine players, optimism for 2009/2010 is quite high…

Update: 12th September 2010 – okay, so I keep forgetting to update this page!  1,000,000 hits were smashed before the season started as the blog continues to increase in traffic as each season goes on.  Amazing, and very humbling.  Alas there is currently much unrest amongst Forest fans after a disappointing transfer window…

Update: 15th June 2011 – I was housekeeping so updated this page a little early, so I’ll wait ’til July is out before counting up the traffic and seeing how we’re doing.  I think we’re still in growth, but slowed compared to before so maybe we are plateauing.  There is a recession on, after all!

Update: 11th August 2012 – I can’t believe how long I’ve been doing this blog now!