I persuaded a friend to subscribe to this blog on the grounds that it was, in part, or would be, in part, about my history of following, albeit from a distance, these days, Notts Forest (a contentious title for some people, they say ‘Notts’ means Notts County, they prefer Nottingham Forest). Well I’m sorry but this is my blog and I call them what I want and Notts is shorter. So, yes, back to my friend and my duplicity in luring him to my site on false pretences. I aim to put that right. So here’s the first of a number of blogs about Notts Forest or let’s just say Forest or the Reds as they were also called and these days ‘the (tricky) Trees’.
The first thing to say is that Forest and I go back a long way. To illustrate this point in a manner completely meaningless to anybody other than a Forest supporter of more than 50 years, I am kept awake at nights not just by trying to pick my best Forest team of all time, not easy in itself because they’ve played a lot of football in this time and although it’s sometimes hard these days to remember this, they have had a lot of great players and a lot of success. Twice European Cup winners in consecutive years. A feat not achieved by any other club although a Liverpool supporting acquaintance (he wouldn’t be an actual friend obviously) says that Liverpool have done the same. I could look it up but as I say this is my blog and I’ll say what I want. So, for me, Forest unique in the ‘anals’ of the game.
Where was I? Yes, my best Forest team of all time. This will come as a later blog but, in the short term, let me just say that what keeps me awake specifically is making a choice for the left wing spot. That’s the guy that plays on the left side of the triangle for more modern readers. At least I think it is. For supporters of the successful teams of the late 70s / early 80s there would be only one choice – John Robertson. For us, longer term followers, there is another, equally brilliant, choice. Some might say he was a better player in that he was just about the only decent player we had for a long time. He carried the team and all that, played for England once and, if my memory doesn’t deceive me, scored in that one game with a header.
Yes, of course, I’m talking about the unusually double-barreled named footballer, Ian Storey Moore. For those of you fortunate enough to watch him week in and week out (a true term in one sense in that I used to go to most away games in those days – a topic for another blog – a bit inaccurate in the sense that my hero, [apart from Peter Grummitt – also a topic for another blog] – rarely played week in week out). The reason being that he was frequently, or so it seems to me now, injured.
It was not that he was particularly injury prone rather that, being a one man team, the opposition quickly worked out that the way to neutralise Forest was to kick the shit out of ISM. And these were the days when every team had a so-called ‘hardman’ otherwise known as a certified lunatic -Harry Cripps (great name), ‘Chopper Harris’, ‘Bites your legs’ Hunter and, Tommy, is that your head on the end of my foot? Smith. Yes, I know I’m confusing my eras here but, as I say, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I bloody well like.
Forest didn’t really have a hard man at that time, our iron man at the back was a centre-half nicknamed ‘gentleman’ Bob Mckinlay – nuff said. We did have a lunatic a bit later Sammy or Bob (take your pick), Chapman, even he didn’t know which was his real name. It is reputed that back-passes to his own goalkeeper – in the days when such tactics were applauded rather than penalised – were contextualised with the phrase -‘stop that one!’ Anyway I digress.
Yester-years referees wouldn’t have been allowed in the stands or rather seats today because they were such a pernicious influence on the game. Just let’s say that skillful players were offered little in the way of protection either from cardboard shin pads, untaped ankles or apparently myopic referees. The ‘tackle from behind’ was regarded as an art form rather than the career-ending lunancy it actually was. And through all this, regardless of how many games he missed, ISM would be our top-scorer. Most of his goals were the end result of mazy dribbles beating half the opposing team. The Eddie Gray goal which was fortunate to be on film, albeit grainy film, was an every day event for ISM. Admittedly, he couldn’t cross the ball like John Robertson but then there was no fucking point at least not until Joe Baker (ah, the chants – again for another time) joined our second certified lunatic, centre forward in the number 10 shirt (in a lovely way) Frank ‘Wiggie’ Wignall, but again that’s also another blog. Just in passing, shirts numbers went from 2 (goalkeepers didn’t usually have the number 1 on their back) to number 11 – no subs or silly squad numbers in them days.
Anyway back to what keeps me awake at nights. JR or ISM?? You decide it’s too hard. I’ll write more blogs about my history with Forest. Question is – will that relationship change now I am retired?