I’ve never understood why someone would choose to support a club X amount of miles away, who represent a totally different town or city to where they are from. To me that’s no different to an Englishman aligning themselves with Spain or France. Even at an early age I knew it made no sense at all to support a club outside of Nottingham.
My Grandad is a big Notts County fan and tried hard to get me on side, even enrolling me in the Junior Magpies. But my uncle was Forest and so was my best mate so for a while, if anyone asked who I support, I would always say “Notts and Forest”. I still have a soft spot for County. Even when we played them in the League Cup a few years back, the only hint of animosity I felt that night was towards Lee Hughes – goading the crowd and swanning about like he’d just gotten away with murder or something. Oh, hang on…
Everyone says you always remember your first game, but I genuinely can’t. I can’t remember what the score was or even who we played, but one thing, or one man, stands out for me – Stuart Pearce. At that age I didn’t know a good player from a bad one, I didn’t know who was the most technically-gifted or who the weak link was, but Pearce immediately etched himself in my mind – Combative, bursting with pride, putting everything on the line, and a complete lunatic. He is what made me, and a lot of kids on the estate permanently nail their colours to the Forest mast, as opposed to the other club, across the Trent. Everyone knew who Stuart “Psycho” Pearce was, even those who didn’t like football. Even the glory hunters who supported Manu knew who Stuart Pearce was. He was a legend in Nottingham, and of course for the national side as well – you don’t see passion for England anymore like what he demonstrated against Spain at Euro 96. So when he left in 1997, Forest just weren’t the same.
When Psycho returned last summer, this time as manager, all the nostalgia came flooding back. If you’ve heard one new-manager-unveiling, you’ve heard them all; “Happy to be here”, “massive club”, “good squad” and all the rest of it. But in Stuart Pearce’s case, you know he meant every single word. It was like Nottingham Forest again for me after we seemed to have lost our identity in recent years. For a while, it helped me to live in blissful ignorance, almost forgetting about the past fifteen years: Gary Megson, relegation to League One, Weymouth, David Platt, Yeovil Town, Joe Kinnear, Alex McLeish, the transfer acquisition panel and of course Billy Davies going bat shit mental! Our leader was back, it was brilliant. But being a Forest fan; that feeling of euphoria didn’t last very long, of course.
After an excellent start to the season some of our supporters got a bit overzealous, so when our form inevitably dipped, the whinging began. From the stands, the support for the manager was evident – the reception he received as he walked out of the tunnel on the first game of the season was incredible. I reckon it gave even the Blackpool fans in the away end goose bumps. But on social media, it took all of about three months before the idiots reared their heads. Many of them Billy Davies fans, aka “rimmers”, who refused to accept the damage that man had done to the club – He had “unfinished business” all right, but it had nothing to do with the team, hell-bent on getting revenge on those who he believed had wronged him during his first stint, like some sort of crazy-gnome Uma Thurman. Kill Bill? He did that to himself. And don’t even get me started on his weird sidekick, Jim Price! But he got us to the play offs twice (but failed twice!) so let’s just sweep all of the loony behaviour under the carpet shall we?
I’ll be honest, I knew Pearce was not the best manager, and whilst “tactically inept” and “clueless” was bang out of order, I wasn’t expecting anything major on the pitch. But his passion for this club is second to none. As Brian Clough said “My Captain would walk through a plate glass window for this club” and there is no debating that. The fact that he still refers the club as “we” even after being sacked, says all you need to know about how high he regards us. So to see the disrespect towards a man who gave us years of loyal service makes me sick to the stomach, you might as well flush his 30 year association with the club down the fucking toilet. Even as I’m writing this, on Twitter there’s a lass sticking the boot in, three days after his sacking. Why? It makes about as much sense as an Emad tweet (Who even is that cling on anyway?). To see so many willing to stab a club legend in the back makes my piss boil. Perhaps the club shop could do a line in carving knives, then maybe we’d raise enough cash to be able to pay Peterborough what we owe them?
As a player he gave us 12 years. We gave him 6 months. His sacking didn’t surprise me though, but I still stand by that it was the wrong decision. Anyone with half a brain could see that Kim Jong-Bill set us back a good three seasons with his year of madness, so Pearce had a bloody hard job trying to steer the club in the right direction again. Results weren’t great, but neither are the players. I’m sick of seeing “this squad should be challenging”. Half of the teams in the Championship have the same opinion about their players, and we don’t have a divine right to challenge, we haven’t been in the Premier League since 1999, but some fans seem to forget that.
He was doing a good job, all things considered. Who cares what the likes of Lansbury and Paterson think? Psycho was playing out of his skin in the garibaldi whilst they were swimming around in their dads’ ball bag. But if he really, really had to go, then why replace him with Dougie Freedman? He wasn’t even the best of a bad bunch. Not to mention the fact he was slagging us off to the press not that long back. Where’s our principles? And where are his, if you have a problem with a certain club, fair enough, but why would you then go to them for a job, like some sort of shameless hooker on Forest Road? And the fact that they announced this replacement 70 minutes after his sacking, confirmed that he was hired even before the trigger was pulled, and that fucking stinks if you ask me.
When Fawaz Al Hasawi first took over, some fans thought we’d be the “next Man City” and getting ideas above their station is half the problem. Where has his two and a half year reign got us though? Unpaid bills, transfer embargos, more managers than Kris Commons has had hot dinners. The club has moved backwards, not forwards and quite frankly, we are a laughing stock. It says a lot when even Derby fans are feeling sorry for us. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that it is Fawaz’ intention to destroy the club, not for one minute. And I do think he genuinely wants success for us. But there is no doubt about it, we have been a shambles under his ownership. I know he has put a lot of money in, but when you get a new manager, they’ll always want to bring in players, and how many new managers have we had? Do I want him to sell up? Not particularly, I just want him to run the club properly. I wouldn’t expect, like some fans do, for him to just hand over his cash and then take a back seat, but he needs to surround himself with people who know the game, he simply cannot do it alone. Stuart Pearce would’ve been an ideal director of football, but we have burnt that bridge.
There isn’t any real point to this ramble, it’s probably just a load of ode bollox without any substance whatsoever. But I felt like I had to vent my concerns for the club, and more importantly, my appreciation for Stuart Pearce somehow, and 140 characters on Twitter doesn’t quite cut it, ladies and gentlemen. The fact is, I love Forest. Probably even more so since I left Nottingham. I miss most things about my home city. When I visit; that smell of manky old jacket spuds, pigeon shit in abundance, the irritating sound of talentless buskers, having to dodge the trams like I’m in The Matrix – I love it. I just hate seeing the club dragged through the gutter like this. But what can you do? We’re not Man City or Chelsea fans, we can’t just switch allegiances when the going gets tough. As a wise man (me mate’s dad, Bob) once told me, repeatedly, after a night on the piss: “You’ve got Forest in yer veins”…