Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa. I did it. I switched on the cricket when I thought England were in an unassailable position. An oxymoron if ever there was one. I haven’t watched a single ball of the cricket so far this winter. Should have left it like that but, given that sport is mostly what I pay Sky for (a little music), it didn’t seem so unreasonable to just watch the end of one game. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We lost. I’m sorry to everybody who has continued to suffer. Incidentally, a recent addition after yesterday’s France – England game. I didn’t watch for the above reasons, turned on with 5 minutes to go, England in lead, what harm can I do at this point. France score in last few minutes. What can I say? Let me switch sports and see what damage I can do to Nottingham Forest.
I have been meaning to write a blog about the late, great Brian Clough. Yesterday I had a session with my IT guy and he went through some of my Google Analytics statistics with me. An interesting, if slightly expensive, experience worth a blog in its own right – to come. One slightly weird piece of data from Google Analytics showed that my readers were keen on sport. So what better prompt than this to write a sport-related blog. I admit I hadn’t intended to start with the ‘c’ word and I’ve already apologised for that.
This blog is not strictly about Brian but tangentially it is. This blog is concerned with Forest and the signing, or otherwise, of a top, top striker or, as is more likely the case, a somewhere short of the top striker. The guy that keeps being mentioned on BBC Sport website reportedly scored 1 goal in 19 outings at one of the clubs, Hull I think, where he is out on loan to Sunderland but can’t get in their first team. Not very promising and a far cry from our signings in the days of BC. If I’d known how long it would be before the great days returned I would have paid more attention at the time.
Now Brian, with the help of Peter Taylor, (some say the signings were all Peter’s doing) was known as a manager who put together a side that won the European Cup twice in consecutive years, from bits and pieces. He took players who had seen better days – Larry Lloyd for example, or players with terrible disciplinary records – Kenny Burns, or ordinary players who he turned into efficient and effective footballers – John McGovern, Martin O’Neil or carpet fitters playing non-league football – Gary Birtles, fat smokers who came to training on the bus with his plimsolls in a plastic bag – John Robertson and moulded them into a successful side. But he was a man with an ego the size of the stand that is now named after him.
One way this manifested itself was in the signing of the first ‘million pounds player’ – Trevor Francis – a top, top player and a top, top price. It didn’t seem that long before when Tony Hateley was breaking the £100,000 barrier. He didn’t have any connection with Forest other than, I think, he might have played for Notts County and there’s a geographical relationship – only a river stands between them. Since then, to return to my theme, we’ve had some top, top strikers – Ian Storey Moore, always top scorer, he was the first I remember but way before BC. He, BC, was definitely a man who liked to splash out on a top, top striker, some good and worked well, some did not. After Trev, we had Teddy Sheringham, yes, for one season as I recall and 20 plus goals, Ian ‘I’m a ginner’, Wallace, Peter Ward was it? Dean Saunders, not so good and then Stan Collymore, one of the best players to grace the Garibaldi. In there somewhere we had Kevin Campbell and the bonkers Pierre Van Hooijdonk (sic) who got 20 plus goals each in the year we went up as Champions from the Championship. Where are they now when we need a top, etc?
We used to sell our best players, we had a habit of selling our top, top strikers to Manchester United ISM, Peter Davenport, Neil Webb (not actually a striker) but they rarely prospered unlike Roy Keane, who did unfortunately, some might say. Not me though. They look reasonably pally in the above photo, you wouldn’t think Brian punched Roy in the mouth would you. No wonder Roy spent his career at Man U doing similar things. I liked Roy at Forest, as a player he was a complete all-rounder, much more so than at MU. My hero was always Psycho. I had it on my pint glass, my handle name, in New Zealand but that’s another story.
So here we are 5th in the Championship and in search of the top, etc. I am not a man who is generally optimistic in the area of sport as a few of my blogs has revealed. No surprise then that I remain pessimistic about our chances of signing anyone decent. But I’ve been wrong before. Retirement certainly gives me plenty of time to reflect on life’s disappointments. And to all you sports fans I can only say –sorry – again.