This One Is For You All To Have As Your Own
Nottingham Forest have the distinction of being THE first ever opponents at Adams Park. The late great Brian Clough and his green sweatshirt graced Sands on a sultry evening on 9 August 1990. 4,810 people watched striker Mark West score the first EVER goal at our current home and the pre-season friendly ended in a 1-1 draw.
They were heady days indeed, as illustrated by the fact that 21 years later less than half that number are likely to watch the two sides compete in a second round League Cup tie at Adams Park. The reasons are the subject of much debate and I shan`t continue that here. There is a time and place and we have a cup tie to win against one of England`s most romantic clubs.
I can almost hear you yelling, Forest? Romantic? Are you sure? Yes Sir, I am. If the story of unprecedented success that the club enjoyed in the late 70`s and early 80`s under Clough isn`t the definition of a footballing fairytale then you can sentence me to one thousand years in purgatory. He kept them clear of relegation in 1975; to promotion in 1977; to the league title in 1978, runners-up in 1979; league cup winners in 1978, 1979, 1989 and 1990, Champions of Europe in 1979 and 1980 (when you actually had to be Champions of your own Country to qualify) and super-cup winners in 1979.
Can you imagine being on THAT rollercoaster ride? Try telling the missus that that Valentines night in Frinton-on-Sea simply pales in comparison. It's what endorphins were invented for. With a history like that, Adams Park should be packed to the rafters with people locked outside (and that has happened, and we weren`t even in the Football League then). Sadly football has evolved and some marketing spiv in a suit will tell you it`s for the better. Hope you can all hear me from this soapbox.
Yeah, yeah, I`ll give it a rest. Nottingham is known as a Place of Caves, which sounds like a lot of fun. That was before the Romans arrived and after those pesky sods had disappeared the City became one of the five burghs of Danelaw. It is renowned for its lace making and its Goose fair. We`ve even had one of our fixtures at neighbours County moved because of it.
There are so many famous folk to have come from the City including one of best cricketers playing at the moment in Stuart Broad. Nottingham High School has some famous alumni including novelist D.H. Lawrence and politicians Ken Clarke and Ed Balls. Hi-De-Hi actress Su Pollard was born there, as was one of the greatest comedy actors ever to have breathed in Richard Beckinsale.
Now I`m going to fact you up into a frenzy. Did you know that Nottingham Forest played in the first ever match to use goal nets? Yes indeedy. It was a scouse gentleman called John Brodie who invented them and they were used in 1890 in a match against Bolton Wanderers.
What? You want more? Ok then, did you know that Tony Adams tried to sign recent trialist Chris Doig from Forest back in March 2004? The defender chose instead to sign a new contract under then-boss Roy Kinnear. The list of players and managers associated with both clubs is certainly impressive. How about Kenny Swain, John Robertson, Martin O`Neill, Stuart Cash, Steve Blatherwick, Nathan Tyson, Vincent Fernandez, Gary Holt, Neil Lennon and Jon-Paul Pittman.
Perhaps the most shameful thing we have in common is that both sets of supporters once had the privilege of being the only two clubs with a one member, one vote constitution. Yet both chucked it away in the hope of being showered in untold riches and glories without realising they already had achieved them under the present system. Future generations of supporters should be allowed to point and laugh at these fools. It would be a charitable penance.
Aside from the friendly meeting back in 1990 there was a second one in July 1999; Wycombe won 2-0 with goals from Sean Devine and Paul Emblen against a Forest under-14s third eleven. The only competitive meeting also came in the League Cup and at the same second round stage back in September 1996. The Blues had lost the first leg at the City Ground 1-0 courtesy of a Brian Roy wonder-strike.
Six days later 6,310 (those were the days) watched the second leg at Adams Park. Most were still coming to terms with the nauseating stripy kit that had been introduced that season. Manager Alan Smith (take a deep breath, stay calm, count to ten) was about to take charge of his last home game as boss. The side had won just one of its` opening eleven games; a 2-0 win over Reading in the second leg of the first round at Adams Park.
Yet the team put on its` best display of the season. It was entertaining fare and winger Dave Farrell, red boots a-glittering, smashed a shot past goalkeeper Mark Crossley and against the left-hand upright. Steve McGavin then whistled a shot inches wide before the Chairboys were celebrating a goal. Paul McCarthy met Jason Cousins free-kick and his header found the back of the net via the underside of the crossbar.
Dean Saunders almost levelled immediately after the break and Blatherwick, now wearing red, headed just wide from Ian Woan`s corner. The Wanderers had the better of the last twenty minutes and Matt Lawrence`s thunder-blaster was superbly saved by Crossley. He also saved efforts from Farrell and McCarthy as the tie went into extra-time.
Sadly the Blues had shot their bolt and the Premier League side dominated the additional thirty minutes. Chris Bart-Williams blazed wide and Colin Cooper headed against the bar before striker Jason Lee headed Roy`s cross past Brian Parkin with 102 minutes on the clock. That effectively ended the contest but the Blues received a standing ovation from the crowd at the final whistle.
We then lost 6-3 at Peterborough United on the following Saturday.
"All that`s left are memories"
This article contains a deliberate mistake (yes and lots of accidental ones too). Spot it and you`ll be the envy of your friends.