Awayday preview : Nottingham Forest, Saturday 17 March
How to get there
Nottingham is a well-connected city, and whether you choose the M1, Midland Mainline or pedalo from Chatham Dockyard, you’re guaranteed not to miss kick-off. Don’t think about flying to what used to be East Midlands airport though – it’s now been farcically re-named Nottingham-Leicester-Derby East Midlands Airport. Prats. If I lived in Mansfield, Long Eaton or Swadlincote I’d want a bit of that as well….
Very nice and capable of creating a great atmosphere on it’s day. The huge Brian Clough Stand was one of the first of the modern cantilever stands built in the 80s, while the tiny old Trent End (smaller than the terraced Rainham End) was only replaced about 10 years ago. Away fans are housed in the Bridgeford End, a few awkward angles but a very comfortable place to sit and sob in the immediate aftermath of a relegation heartache. As every schoolboy nerd knows, The City Ground and Notts County’s Meadow Lane are the closest two professional grounds in England. You’ll also find more ducks per sq foot than at any other venue in League One.
The Reds. Or The Tricky Trees. The first is somewhat unimaginative, the second is rather poncy. I prefer to know them as “The Shitty Eugene Bopps”.
The Caves of Nottingham – not as interesting as the Caves of Drac but an enormous network of 400 caves used for storage and defence purposes. Brian Clough used to banish naughty players to the underground depths, and rumour has it that flame-haired flop Ian Wallace still lurks down there, unable to face the outside world
Tales of Robin Hood museum – found on Maid Marion Way, you can find a model Sherwood Forest and relive Medieval Nottingham through an array of stuffed goats and amusing court jesters.
Where to Drink
Nottingham is blessed with lots of fantastic pubs and is famous for Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, one of many pubs that claim to the oldest in the country and worth a visit in it’s own right. But the Vat and Fiddle (Queens Bridge Road, near the station) – with it’s friendly staff, amorous cat and fab range of beers – has long been a favourite of the BMH crew. And then there’s Hooters….
Occasionally liable to wave a tin-foil European Cup in your face, but they’re amiable and still turning out in numbers. To my mind they haven’t quite acquired the “big club in the wrong league” mentality of massive Leeds and Wolves, probably because they recognise when they’re punching at the right level. Their rather graceless reaction to our relegation grated, but they amused by singing “Can we play you twice a week?” earlier this season during their Paint Cup victory at Priestfield. Notable famous fans include Fatima Whitbread, Su Pollard, James Dean Bradfield and Peter Sutcliffe, who received a banning order from The City Ground in 1981 following his conviction for the murder of thirteen women between 1975 and 1980.
Nottingham Hate Figures
There have been a few! Paul Gerrard, who’s timewasting came spectacularly unstuck when they lost to Tommy Johnson’s late winner in 2004, resulting in his walk of shame to the Rainham End goal to collect his belongings at the end where he had to face an onslaught of abuse and gestures. Big Fat Joe Kinnear took his share of the flack that day as well. The numpties might nominate Kevin James or Marlon King. Jack Lester and Darren Huckerby were both disliked for the pain they’ve inflicted on us. And back in my childhood I held a grudge against Peter Shilton for keeping my idol Ray Clemence out of the England team.
Eugene Bopp. I know I just did, but he’s got a lot to answer for
- Nottingham Forest winning the European Cup anyone?
- Forest scoring three goals in about five minutes in a pre-season friendly in 1996 (including a rip-snorting Stuart Pearce free-kick), which was half the number of goals we conceded in the whole of the previous season at Priestfield
- Marlon kicking off the “Staying Up” party with a late winner in front of over 3ooo travellers in our first season in the First Division – the result was a riotous night out and some comedy chundering in the morning (in flower beds and over fellow supporters, if I recall)
- Baldy Shaw finally starting to win over the Gills support with two headers a year later
- The late postponement in 2003, which resulted in an afternoon holed up in Nottingham’s finest pubs waiting for a train home. The consequence of this was a horde of trollied Gills fans running amok giggling through the streets that were throbbing with Christmas shoppers
- The art of tackling by Andy Hessenthaler. Rugby tackling….
A worthy 1-1 draw thanks to Sancho leaping like a dreadlocked salmon to nod home a Danny Jackman corner to save a point
The Morty Vicker