S E A S O N   2 0 1 9 / 2 0   M A T C H   R E P O R T S

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 2 2019.
GAME 1 : FOREST 1 WEST BROM 2

Well that wasn't a very horse pictures start to the season, was it Mister Pie?

Auspicious, Mister Stress. And Missis Pie and I had a very enjoyable holiday thank you very much for asking, even though the hotel insisted on putting hash browns on my breakfast plate when I had specifically asked them not to. But enough of my problems. Tell me about the first game match experience at the world famous City Ground, Mister Stress.

It was a disturbing experience to start with, Mister Pie. For a brief second I thought I was standing on my head, but I soon realised it was because they had swapped the dugouts around.

That must have played havoc with your nerves, Mister Stress.

It did, Mister Pie. But the game started and Forest came out like a house on wheels.

A house on fire, surely, Mister Stress. A house on wheels is a caravan.

And that's how they came out, Mister Pie - like a caravan. Houses on fire tend to be a bit static, I have found. So the boys in red went at their opponents like a caravan until young Mister Cash surged forward from right back to drive home a crisp shot at the goalkeeper's near post.

Which signified, no doubt, that Forest were on their way to being promoted as champions.

For a while, Mister Pie, for a while. Until the grim intervention of one Harry Janet Muric.

Who?

Harry Janet Muric is the young goalkeeper loaned to us by Manchester City. Sadly they didn't tell us that he suffers from Negative Gravity Syndrome.

Negative Gravity Syndrome, Mister Stress? I've never heard of that.

Neither had I, Mister Pie, until I made it up. Negative Gravity Syndrome has two effects. Firstly, the subject's atomic bonds loosen, so quite large objects can pass through him, just as the direct shot at him passed through his body and into the net for the first WBA goal. Secondly, what with gravity being reversed, the subject repels rather than attracts objects, which is what happened when a mishit cross managed to avoid him completely and loop over him for WBA's second. That, basically, was the end of the match.

So why would Forest play a goalkeeper who suffers from Negative Gravity Syndrome, Mister Stress? It makes no sense.

A cynic might argue that the loan contract spitulates that Muric must play, or the loan is off, or City stop paying most of his wages, or something.

Stipulates.

Spitulates.

Stipulates.

Spitulates.

Tell me about the rest of the match, Mister Stress.

Not much to tell, Mister Pie. It looked like nothing much had changed, despite the changes. The defence was average. Watson, charged with shielding the defence and instigating forward progress, sadly slipped into a coma after fifteen minutes. Silva began well but his influence became patchy. Semedo looked promising, Amoeba and Cardomah did what was expected. Lolley looked as if his mind was on other things. Grabban was just a weary ghost. There was very little to get excited about, Mister Pie. We are, sadly, the hash browns of the Championship.

So, Mister Stress, Forest's latest attempt to conquer Europe begins with a predictable cock up at the world famous City Ground. It is not, of course, the End of Days quite yet, but it sounds as if enough went wrong to suggest that little has changed since whoever last promised us the earth. One thing that has changed, apparently, is that Forest seem to have adopted the Head Coach/Director of Football approach, which means that if things aren't going too well, the coach can be replaced by somebody equally inept in a transition so smooth the players will hardly notice. You may have thought that this sort of thing had been happening for years at Forest, but you would be wrong. Previous managerial sackings have led to a chaotic restart and some frenetic recruitment, wheras now ...

Oh my God, Mister Pie, nothing at all has changed, has it?

Including, I suspect, your next declaration.

I'm going to kill myself, Mister Pie.

Of course you are, Mister Stress. Will you be throwing yourself in front of a bridge before or after the massacre of Elmand Road?

Probably, Mister Pie. Probably.


Will Stress kill himself again? What is the purpose of the potato based nonsense called hash browns? When will Worrall stop shouting? These and many other matters will probably be avoided in the next report.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 10 2019.
GAME 2 : LEED 1 FOREST 1

I first went to Leed as a primary school pupil on a school trip and was punched on the nose by a bony ginger youth. I simply couldn't believe there were places on earth which bred such scummery. It hasn't changed much. The ground, the fans, the players are still as graceless as the mucky family in the next street with the burnt out car in their front garden. That's why they're called "Dirty Leed".

The media don't appreciate any of this, of course. As far as they are concerned, Leed are favourites for promotion. This was one of those games for which the script, involving a heavy Forest defeat, had already been written. Here's what really happened.

Forest's new, young and fairly useless goalkeeper began as he left off against WBA, mishitting a clearance and heading awkwardly near the edge of his area. The more weak bladdered Forest fans failed to see the funny side of having a circus goalkeeper and began calling for his head. Some people are never satisfied.

Leed began as they had left off when they last played football, by cheating. The first dive of the day came from Forshaw, who was touched in the penalty area by the holy spirit and went down looking for a penalty. The referee was having none of this. To be honest, the referee was having none of anything. He behaved throughout like a man who had bigger problems than pandering to a bunch of overpaid wankers, thus ended up being the best referee Forest have had in years.

Muric continued to flap about, but with slightly more assurance. Bamford failed to control a chest high ball because it was travelling at well over nine miles per hour, and it was at this point that we realised that this match was going to be a mess, just like most Championship matches. That's where the media keep getting it wrong. Their pre-written scripts assume a level of expertise which is seldom there, however frantically they pretend it is. Most Championship games are a series of fruitless events sewn together by mistakes.

The nature of the mess consisted of Forest defending resolutely by passing the ball to Leed players and conceding dozens of corners, and Leed cocking up every half chance that came their way. Semedo blocked, Muric punched, Hernandez dribbled a ball out of play, Bamforth squandered chance after chance, Phillips tried to cripple Silva , somebody kicked the ball out of the stadium. In the 40th minute, Forest got a corner. It was wasted. Watson foul. Phillips free kick. Muric catch. Bamforth blooper. Garbage. End of half.

The second half began more promisingly for Forest. The ball ended up in Leed's penalty area but seemed to disappear down a rabbit hole. A dodgy crossfield ball left the Leed defence vulnerable but Forest were collectively asleep. Adomah shot for the moon. Semedo was a cool head in a hot mess of potage.

The mess continued until Hernandez put Leed ahead with the cleanest shot of the match, followed by a dumb celebratory pose. At last, it probably seemed to the media, the match was back on script, but such conclusions were ignoring the evidence. Samba Sow and Amoeba were now on for Forest, the former adding yellow card grit, the latter beginning to cause chaos. It became clearer and clearer that Forest were not lying down, and Leed were becoming prey to self doubt. Even Watson fired wide, which at least proved he existed. Dawson headed a corner over the crossbar. By this time Bielsa was off his bucket fingering his piles. In the 77th minute Amoeba forced a corner. Dawson and Worrall came up. Leed defended the corner by losing their heads, and somehow the ball ping-ponged its way off Grabban's arm (Roofe like) into the net.

There were other things that happened after that, significant things. There were talking points galore, about penalties and luck and who played well and who didn't. But these things were all drowned by the sound of laughter, because Forest fans have a better sense of humour than Dirty Leed or the media or the mucky family in the next street with the burnt out car in their front garden. Ha.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 17 2019.
GAME 3 : FOREST 3 BOREMINGHAM 0

Boremingham are going through a transitional phase under caretaker manager Josep "Pep" Clotet Ruiz. This transition involves the wearing of high white socks with a blue kit which, especially if worn with light coloured boots, makes the players look a bit poncy. Sure enough for the first fifteen minutes Boremingham played poncy, carpet slipper football which made it look as if Forest were being beaten up by candy floss. After stoutly resisting this onslaught and witnessing the balletic wretchedness of Boremingham's finishing, however, Forest decided to go to work.

Boremingham's expansive style resembled that of an expanding universe, in which the players, like galaxies, were constantly moving away from each other at an increasing rate. Marking is difficult in such circumstances, so Boremingham didn't bother. A quick free kick to Joe Lolley caught Boremingham napping, and before they could properly discuss the existence of dark energy, Lolley had walloped an angry drive through Lee Camp's fingers into the bottom corner of the Boremingham goal. Shortly afterwards, Lolley escaped down the right and crossed to the far post, where Grabban had the time and freedom to head back across and into the net.

Forest threatened again when Amoeba chased his own header and forced Camp into a decent save, but as the half drew to a close, Boremingham resumed their candy floss dominance and...

Good God Jofra Archer has hit another one.

...continued to have the run of play at the beginning of the second. This confused me, until someone who should know explained to me that giving the ball away sloppily and winning it back was all part of Sabri Lamouchi's plan to mystify the opposition. Before I could express my concerns about this theory, Forest had spotted the problem, regained the initiative with the introduction of Silva, and gone three up after a fine cross from Adomah was headed home by Captain Dawson.

After that, Boremingham more or less collapsed, and Forest indulged themselves in an orgy of missed chances which somehow turned out to be more insulting to Boremingham than an actual seven nil thrashing.

Was this an early turning point in Forest's season? I don't know. Were Forest that good, or were Boremingham that bad? I don't know. Will Forest end the season in the top six? I have no idea. Will you ever stop asking stupid questions? I don't know. As Sabri Lamouchi said afterwards, "This is only one match." I like Sabri Lamouchi, mainly because he seems a reassuringly miserable bugger.

Good God Jofra Archer has hit one in the belly.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 21 2019.
GAME 4 : CHARLESTON 1 FOREST 1

"The first half was a waste of time which gave us all a fright,
The Charleston boys played football while the Forest men played shite."

As far as Forest were concerned, the first half of this match went like a dream - you know, one of those dreams where you fall out of a helicopter and wake up in a bath of vomit. It was clear from the start that Charleston's players were athletic and intelligent, moving fluently between their Forest counterparts like oil finding the cracks in tired metal. Muric did okay, keeping Forest in the game with several important saves, and Dawson managed to block a goalbound effort from Leko, a recent loanee from the planet Asgard. Sadly, Forest's resistance lasted only 18 minutes. A magical interchange of passes ended up with Taylor netting neatly for the home side.

Amongst Forest fans there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth. And swearing - there was a lot of swearing. No player escaped criticism. Charleston, it seemed, was no country for old men, and Forest were being made to look decrepit. The defence was kind of holding on, but midfield and up front might as well have been ghosts. By half time, it was difficult to make a case for Forest's further existence.

Except that, well, it wasn't all bad. Charleston still only had one goal, and hadn't honestly looked like getting a second. Forest had actually contrived two decent chances of their own near the end of the half; Silva cleared the bar with one and Grabban fell asleep dithering over the other. And Mister Lamouchi was surely telling his men to pull their fingers out of their arses or he would gut them like fish, and other tactical subtleties.

"But Charleston lost their fizzle like an open can of Tizer,
And up stepped Uncle Albert with a cracking equaliser."

So things improved for Forest in the second half, partly because the full backs pushed on and the midfield moved up and pressed more effectively, partly because the Charleston players were being drained by the resilience of their opponents. Sadly, Forest's efforts were compromised by the sinister ineptitude of the referee. He was one of those blokes who makes one mistake, knows it, knows that everybody else knows it, so doubles down on his resentment by committing further acts of biased stupidity. Like Mister Oakwell the Geography teacher, who ended up putting 4A into Tuesday detention twenty times before leaving the school under a cloud.

The most spiteful of these decisions should have brought Forest an equaliser when Amoeba was hacked down well inside the area, but the ref's failure to award the penalty seemed to signal the end of Forest's hopes.

By now, however, Charleston were hanging on like the bunch of no-name upstarts they always should have been, and ten minutes from the end Silva's corner was belted home by Uncle Albert Adomah, one of those old men for whom this was the right country after all. Forest went on to almost conjure an unlikely winner, but that would have been a bit embarrassing.

A good point earned against a confident home side, then. And a warning to the Cottagers: don't you even think of trying to score a hatful of your fancy Landon goals on Saturday, or you'll jolly well find yourself in detention on Tuesday night.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 24 2019.
GAME 5 : COTTAGING 1 FOREST 2

We couldn't go to London on Saturday because:
(a) We couldn't afford it.
(b) Collegeboy was coming over from Holland on a rare visit.
(c) Stress was coming up from Manchester with his little boy.
(d) Collegeboy had bought three tickets for the fourth day (Sunday) of the third Ashes test at Headingley.

Yes, we were there, at the most incredible sporting event we have ever experienced. So forgive us, Forest, for inadequately acknowledging your victory over the Cottaging Men, but there will be more brilliant goals and joyfully unexpected successes from the men in red; I'm not sure we will ever see the like of Ben Stokes' divine intervention again.

You'll no doubt have seen/read/heard about this greatest of days, but here are a few personal reflections on things which probably escaped the media's attention...

It was bloody hot. It didn't take very long for the Australian pacemen to start looking a bit red in the face. And oddly, the new ball made very little difference to their pace or penetration. Most of the English wickets were not the result of good bowling, but daft mistakes.

The big crowd to our left were magnificently drunk from about half eleven onwards. Their spirits were not dimmed as the English wickets fell. They entertained themselves by punching beach balls skywards, or taking off their shoes and chanting "Shoes off if you love Ben Stokes." When the runs remaining reached a hundred, they raised the roof. When Ben Stokes reached a hundred, they built another roof and raised that. They sang some terribly offensive songs about Australians, but I couldn't hear the words properly. I'll swear the lot of them were Leed supporters, but it didn't matter at all.

There were two or three Australian blokes behind us. They mouthed off a lot as their side moved towards victory. They called Nathan Lyons "Gary", because, as I understand it, there is somebody in Australia called Gary. Anyway, they mouthed off big time, until Jack Leach came in with seventy odd to get. After that they gradually fell silent, and were eventually never heard of again.

Something strange happened to Ben Stokes as the day wore on. He began to control everything - not just the way he organised the strike or the shots he played, but everything on heaven and earth. Some of those sixes looked like they might be caught, but then mocked gravity for the few yards needed to take them over the fielders' flailing dives. After one such mighty blow, Stokes gazed after it and willed it over the line. He probably also caused Australia to make so many fielding errors, including "Gary's" tragi-comic run out error, and the Australian captain to muck up his field placements big time. By the end of the day it had become obvious that Ben Stokes was bending reality to his own will, and nobody could do anything to resist him.

The winning shot. Once Jack Leach scored his only run to tie the match and leave Ben Stokes on strike, the Australian fielders closed in try to prevent the inevitable. They looked forlorn and broken before the last ball was bowled, like ghosts witnessing their own last rites, because they knew that Stokes was going to thump their dead bones into oblivion. He made solid contact with the ball, and his arms were raised before it had cleared the infield. God knows where the ball went.

We waited for the Sky interviews, but couldn't hear much because the crowd were singing about shoes and Yorkshire and Sir Ben Stokes, which was probably better than listening to Mike "Flat" Atherton reducing the day to a series of awkwardly dull questions.

Then we went home, and had jam for tea. Thank you Mister Grabban and Mister Stokes for an unforgettable weekend.

CARIBOU CUP: FOREST 3 SHEEP 0

Good morning, Vetch. How's the wife?

Good morning, sir. My wife died some time ago.

Of course she did. Should've sent her to Doctor Sock y'know Vetch. Good man, Doctor Sock.

Doctor Sock died several years ago, sir. He is buried behind the stables, I understand.

You're right, Vetch. How time flies, eh? Why, I remember when you could buy a Mars Bar for a used bus ticket, Vetch. Do you remember those days, Vetch? Eh, Vetch? Do you?

Sadly no, sir.

Of course you don't. All you are interested in is Ceefax and football and some God-forsaken Mexican beer. How are the Foresters doing these days, by the way?

They have made a sound start in the league, sir. And last evening they enjoyed a surprisingly straightforward victory in the Caribou Cup.

What in God's name is a Caribou Cup?

Nobody knows, sir, and, quite frankly, nobody cares. But last evening's tie was against the Derby Sheep.

So the Red Fellows beat the Derby Sheep, then?

By three clear goals, sir.

Wonderful news, Vetch. So you'll be doing a report for that idiot Stress's webbing site, will you?

No sir. We don't do cup reports, and even if we did we wouldn't bother with a walkover like this.

Sound thinking, man. Now where's my breakfast?

You ate it some time ago, sir.

Good God. How time flies, eh? Why, I remember when you could buy a Mars Bar for a used bus ticket. Those were the days, Fitch.

Vetch, sir.

SEASON 2019/20. AUGUST 31 2019.
GAME 6 : FOREST 1 PRESTON NOB END (misprint) 1

Once more a team plays well against Forest and cannot understand why it has not won. We think we know why this keeps happening. Actually, we don't, but here are a few theories which may help. Or not.

1.   The Sit back and pretend you're crap theory.

According to this theory, Forest start slowly on purpose, playing deep to absorb their opponents' energy, draining them of their strength, then striking against them later on. But it didn't look like this against Nob End in the first half. Giving them the freedom of the midfield seemed more like accident than design, what with Forest giving the ball away in dangerous positions and falling so deep that counterattacking seemed impossible. The only result of this non-strategy was to make Forest look jittery and eventually concede a goal. Actually, the bits about "freedom of the midfield" and Forest looking "jittery", are not entirely true. Forest did do a few good things but not where it counted, and Nob End strung a few passes together, but our abiding memory of the first half was of scrappiness.

2.   The Sit back and pretend you're crap in the first half, then get it right in the second theory.

This is more like it. Even though we dismissed the "pretend" bit in number 1, Forest definitely got on top in the second half, eventually. This was due to (a) Forest getting the right players on (Sow, Carvalho, Adomah), (b) Forest pushing up more aggressively, and (c) Nob End rediscovering the eternal weariness of being not quite good enough.

3.   The Eternal weariness of being theory.

This theory applies to most Championship clubs, and refers to that essential sameness which derives from a lack of real quality. Nob End fans got a bit up themselves as the first half wore on, but their "dominance" was more down to Forest's ineptitude than their own talent, and their efforts on goal were limited and quite tame. Two shots, one from Bodin and one from Johnson, were easily parried by Brice Samba, another one was so wank that Samba caught it, and even the goal was the result of a series of random rebounds. Two midfielders accidentally smuggled the ball to Bodin, whose shot was blocked by Worrall. The ball bobbled to Nob End's Browne whose shot somehow reached Bodin via some strange version of Collision Physics, and Bodin did his one trick and scored. In other words, even Nob End's best was ordinary, so they shouldn't be at all surprised that they didn't win.

4.   The Eternal weariness of being doesn't apply to Forest theory.

Forest have the players who can take them out of the ordinary. They don't do it often enough yet, but glimpses of a superior ability were glimpsed in the Nob End match. The move that led to Grabban's effort was bewilderingly clever, and Carvalho's through ball to Adomah for the equaliser was exquisite. Forest's best far exceeded Nob End's best in quality, so perhaps the visitors should just be satisfied with the draw.

5.   The Nob End will never win anything because they are so bloody irritating theory.

This theory refers to the concept that Nob End will never win anything because they are so bloody irritating. This irritating-ness may derive from Bodin shimmying like a little bag of wind then disappearing from view, or Daniel Johnson pretending to be the Brazilian Ronaldhinho with his teeth and hair, or the team's half-arsed application of the dark arts. But mostly it derives from the manager, players and fans being such miserable, sour-arsed whiners. With their manager, it never whines but it pours. "To be fair to Forest, I thought they did the scrappy bits of the second half better than us," he said. "But the biggest frustration for me is that they had one meaningful shot on target and scored." Backhanded compliments and sour grapes - that's the best you can hope for from whiny Neil. Statistics have proved that outfits that whine as much as Nob End do will never win anything, and that's why they had no chance of beating Forest.

There are more theories we could mention, but too many of them tend to be about domination, and we'll have none of that talk here. All in all, it's been a decent August for Forest, though we suspect that most of us are still waiting for Monsieur Lamouchi to start forging all that talent (some of it still a bit raw) into consistently good team performances. Patience, as Old Uncle Boff used to say, is a virgin.

SEASON 2019/20. SEPTEMBER 14 2019.
GAME 7 : ABERTAWE 0 FOREST 1

Did I ever tell you the story of September the fourteenth, my boy?

Was that the day they found Mister Johnson dead in a ditch, Grandad?

No, my boy, that was a little later. This was September the fourteenth 2019, the day Forest beat Abertawe.

What's an Abertawe, Grandad?

It's an anagram for Swansea, boy. The Welsh language is merely an extensive catalogue of anagrams.

Is that true, Grandad?

That's not important, boy. What is important is Forest's victory over Abertawe on September the fourteenth 2019. What a day that was!

Was it, Grandad? Was it a day?

It certainly was. Bear in mind that Abertawe were top of the table, and Forest were playing their seventh game against a top ten side. We had done well so far, but most fans reckoned we would struggle in the Welsh sunshine.

And did we, Grandad? Did we struggle in the Welsh sunshine? Was it like that film Zulu, Grandad?

Surprisingly, no. It was Abertawe who struggled. Forest managed the game almost perfectly from the start. And it wasn't simply the sit-back-and-absorb-the-pressure kind of performance that some people were beginning to moan about. No, sir. It was a display combining defensive strength and attacking threat

Like Zulu?

Surprisingly, no. Much of our increased creativity was down to the inclusion of Joao Carvalho, who seemed to spark life into other players, especially Grabban. It wasn't long before Ribeiro and Carvalho combined to set up Ameobi, whose shot tested the Abertawe keeper. Not much later Ben Watson headed a stray clearance back into the Abertawe box where Grabban stretched to turn it on to the bar. All the home side could muster was a couple of fly hacks from distance.

This doesn't sound like Zulu at all.

That's because it's sod all to do with Zulu. You seem to be missing the point here. I'm trying to tell you that September the fourteenth 2019, the day Forest beat Abertawe, was the day everything started to come together. This match, which should have tested Forest's weaknesses, was turning out to be no test at all. Abertawe tried to ramp up the pressure in the second half, but Forest never genuinely looked like conceding, and always looked the more dangerous going forward. Then came the goal, and what a goal it was.

Was it, Grandad? Was it a goal?

It certainly was, boy. A stray back pass was nicked by Grabban, who set off down the right. He ran from his own half towards the Abertawe box, and I for one thought he would be caught and tackled by their left back. But no. He seemed to hesitate for a moment, but it was just a feint to slow down his tracker and give him the split second he needed to toe it forward and leave the defender struggling. Grabban cut across the defender into the penalty area. The defender gave up. Grabban crossed it to Semedo, who had run further that Grabban himself, and Semedo popped it home.

Magic, eh Grandad?

That's the word, boy. It was a kind of magic. The kind of magic that happens when all the pieces come together and you see the real potential in a team, when you see the beginnings of something. That, the fourteenth day of September 2019, was when it all began.

So when did they find Mister Johnson in a ditch, Grandad?

That was after the Second Referendum, boy. Or was it the Third?

SEASON 2019/20. SEPTEMBER 21 2019.
GAME 8 : FOREST 1 BARNSLEH 0

You know when you try to take your shoes off in the dark? What you should do is put the light on, sit down and untie your laces carefully. But you can't do that, can you? You leave the light off, try to balance on one leg, pull the laces into a series of knots, and start hopping around blindly until you split your kneecap on a radiator.

The collateral damage is not important. What's important is the knot. This match was like the knot tied in the dark by the idiot with the split kneecap. It was painfully difficult to untangle, when it should have been as easy as turning the light on.

Things were already knotty before the match started. Getting two wins in a row was a challenge. Winning at home was more of a challenge than winning away. Beating a bottom team had always caused Forest more problems than beating a top one. Expectations might be too high. The crowd might be too big. The weather might be too warm. On the other hand, team confidence was high. Relative table positions surely indicated a gulf in quality. Forest had gone six league games unbeaten. And it was the fifteenth anniversary of Brian's death, which made it emotional.

When you have as many entanglements as this, you can usually rely on the match itself to untie the knots. But this match didn't do that. By the end, we were still hopping about in the dark.

It happened like this.

It was clear from the start that Barnsleh, or Barnsley as they are sometimes known, were a better side than they ought to be, but also that Carvalho's cut back to Grabban should have been rewarded with an early goal, but also that Grabban's cock up of a shot might signal a poor day for him. A free kick provided Worrall with the opportunity to slam one over the bar, then the Grabban thing happened again, what with Watson putting him clean through and Grabban drifting too far to his right and putting his cross shot well wide. Lolley volleyed off target, the Barnslehy goalkeeper smothered a Grabban effort, Forest had a million corners in a row, but there was no breakthrough. It may sound from this that it was just a matter of time before Forest scored, but by the same token it might be turning out to be "one of those days". That's what I mean by calling this match a tangle - the same evidence could be interpreted in two opposite ways. Were Forest on top, or were they setting themselves up for a fall? The answer almost came when a Bharnslehy counter attack produced a shot by Thomas which was saved by Samba.

The game continued on its confusing journey in the second half with a sharp effort from Pinillos which was again saved by Samba. Did this mean that Forest were losing their grip on the match? No, because a beautiful switch ball from Carvalho set off a right wing attack, and Cash, in plenty of space, crossed for Ben Watson to sweep the ball home. Of all the things which weren't supposed to happen in this match, Ben Watson scoring was probably favourite. The last time I saw Ben Watson score was in that cup final a hundred years ago. He seemed to enjoy the experience, as did his Forest team mates.

The last third of the match was not brilliantly handled by Forest, and there were some nervy moments as Samba foiled Thomas for a second time and Dawson pulled off one of his world famous blocks, but there was, eventually and thankfully, jam for tea at the end.

As previously mentioned, the game didn't really answer any of the pre-match questions. Were Bharhnslehy unlucky? You might say that, though kicking the ball straight at the goalkeeper rarely brings rewards, and Forest could have been three up at half time. On the other hand, their ending up in the relegation zone seems wrong for such a decent footballing side. As for Forest, the "playing less well at home against so-called poorer sides" conundrum remains, and yet again not all the attacking players played well at the same time. On the other hand, matches do not generate that stomach churning terror that they used to, which is much appreciated by old men.

So, one way or another Forest were nowhere near their best, which may be a bad thing but is in fact a good thing. Saying we got three points, remained unbeaten in seven league games, and ended up in the top six may not compensate for not playing like Bharcelonha, but it's better than a kick in the eye with a burnt foot. People keep hinting at promotion, but they're usually drunk.

The next league match is away to Stoke. No, I don't know how we'll do. If we win, all optimistic hell will break loose, but we'll still be hopping around in the dark trying to undo those laces. They make them too long on purpose, you know.

SEASON 2019/20. SEPTEMBER 27 2019.
GAME 9 : STOKES 2 FOREST 3

The Book of Games
Chapter 20199

And so it happened that Nottingham did come unto the place called Stoke, where it was said the people did eat themselves in hard times and their leader had been sent mad by snorting snow. Thus did the Stokes attack them with unremitting fury so that their defences were breached, but the followers of Nottingham did not weep nor did they wring their hands, for they were brave souls and mostly drunk.

They fought long and hard into the evening of the day, and some did say that the Stokes had gained the upper hand, for Nottingham's passing was as wayward as goat droppings in rainwash, and the skies did frown upon them, and the Stokes did practise many of the witching arts, and their leader was filled with the spirit of a mad beast as might be unto a pig or a rabid dog.

But all was not lost, for it is as the sages say: "Where one gate closes, another falls off its hinges," and so it was that the keeper of the Stokes net who was called Butland did fumble the ball and Nottingham Lolley made equal the reckoning.

There were those of the Nottingham followers who railed against the play of Ameobi, saying that his joints were universal and his motions accidental, but their mouths did prove to be of cloth and vinegar, for did not Ameobi put the Nottinghams ahead with a mighty strike, and did not the Nottingham followers sing his name to the heavens and the name of the beloved Lamouchi and the foolish Keogh who should surely have walked.

And furthermore did Grabban advance the Nottinghams towards victory, only for the blighted McClean to threaten their lead. There was indeed some gnashing of loins and snorting of coke, but the Nottinghams were guided to safe harbour by the trusty ginger helmsman Watson.

For lo, did not the prophets say there would rise a team called Nottingham who would be more difficult to overcome than even the moles in Mole Buster. For just as the moles in Mole Buster did escape the rubber hammer and appear reborn in other holes, so did Nottingham find a way to overcome every reverse. Lolley who did not score, did score. Grabban who did not score, did score. Ameobi of the accidental motions was lauded as man of the hour. Dawson was lost, but Chema assumed the mantle. Carvalho struggled, but Silva coped. For everything the fates did throw down upon them, another would rise to fill the void.

And so the people of Stoke did eat themselves once more, and their leader did run mad beside the field of battle. The followers of Nottingham sang loud into the night "We are top of the league", and indeed, for a few sweet hours, they were.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 1 2019.
GAME 10 : BLACKBum 1 FOREST 1

So where were all the Blackbum supporters, eh Stress?

What I heard was, a lot of them had gone to the windmill burning festival up nearby Rishton Hill.

Windmill burning festival?

There is a local belief that witches gather at the base of wind turbines, so every year at this time a wind turbine is burnt down to rid the area of witches. And wind turbines.

None of that is actually true, is it?

It literally could be, for have not stranger things happened, Pie? For instance, did you know that Blackbum was built on damp newspapers?

Of course I did. Everybody knows that.

Really?

Really. Now I think it's time we talked about the match, don't you?

Do we have to, Pie? It wasn't a happy event. I've had more entertaining piles.

Okay, we'll make it quick then. How about the first half - how would you sum that up?

Well, Joe Lolley nearly scored after a minute, then nothing much happened literally forever. Forest got on top after a bit thanks to Watson and Sow, and Blackbum had a player called Broadly Duck. That's how I would sum up the first half.

The second half was more interesting though, wasn't it Stress? It started with a Watson missile which grazed the bar, and continued with a Grabban effort straight at their goalie, and in general the Blackbum defence was doing a fair impression of pooing in a bottle. Carvalho came on to finish them off when...

...they scored. Badly Dick passed to Hamstrung, Worrall and Robinson got in each other's way, and Hamstrung slid the ball under Brice Samba. It was a shocking turn of events, Pie. I literally choked to death at the injustice of it all.

I noticed that. Your untimely and premature death would have literally upset me had not Lolley equalised minutes later.

What a cracker, eh Pie? Sent a defender the wrong way and belted it home from literally miles out. Such a pity we couldn't finish the job off.

Such a pity. Perhaps Mister Lamouchi was being a bit too ambitious by taking Sow off. Our midfield, which he obviously hoped would cut through the Blackbum defence, seemed to lose control of things, and the last part of the game wasn't pretty.

Still, a point is a point, eh Pie?

It literally is, Stress. But it is evidence of the team's progress that we're all slightly disappointed we didn't bag all three points.

Not me, Pie. I'd prefer not to be top at the moment, thank you very much. As Old Uncle Boff used to say, "If you expose yourself to the icy wind of scrutiny, your knob may fall off."

He said that, did he Stress?

He literally did, Pie.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 5 2019.
GAME 11 : FOREST 1 BENTFOR'D 0

AT PIE MANSIONS...

I've been reading the back pages of the local newspaper, Vetch.

Indeed, sir.

Yes indeed, Vetch. Imagine my surprise when, glancing at the Championship league table, I notice that the Nottingham Foresters are second. Second, Vetch.

Indeed they are, sir.

Don't you indeed they are sir me, sir. Is this some kind of joke?

Indeed it is no joke, sir. Forest are in second place, on the same points as the leaders.

But how can this be, Vetch? The Foresters are by all reports a mid-table team at best. And after yesterday's defeat to Bentfor'd, why...

Excuse me, sir, but Forest did not lose to Bentfor'd. Forest won, one nil.

That cannot be, Vetch. I read somewhere that Bentfor'd were the Barcelona of the Championship.

That is indeed how they like to think of themselves sir, but the sad truth is they are essentially a five-a-side carpet slipper team, with a few Vikings thrown in for heavier going. Forest simply strangled the swagger out of them and drowned it in a bucket.

Like you did with Clarabel's kittens, eh Vetch?

That was merely downstairs gossip, sir.

You could have kept one, Vetch.

As I was saying, sir, we strangled their swagger and stabbed them to death with a spectacular goal. We fully deserved the three points and fully deserved to go second.

If you say so, Vetch. And who scored this spectacular goal, as you call it?

Ben Watson, sir.

Not Ben "Heather" Watson the ineffective tennis player?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Ben "Emma" Watson star of Harry Potter and various pornographic videos?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Ben "Bubba" Watson the fat left-handed American golfer?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not American molecular biologist Ben "James D." Watson who half invented DNA?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Detective Inspector Ben "Reginald" Watson who questioned us about the mysterious diappearance of Doctor Sock?

No sir. Ben Watson.

Not Ben "Ben" Watson, who scored Wigan's injury time winner in the FA Cup final against Manchester City?

That's the one sir.

Good God, that was years ago, when you could buy a Mars Bar for a used bus ticket.

It was, sir, but under the present regime at Forest, Ben Watson has undergone a quite remarkable rennaissance, becoming an indispensable member of the team, and a provider of important goals. Yesterday, for example, Joe Lolley's corner reached Joe Worrall, who cushioned a header down to Ben Watson. Watson angled his body laterally and smashed the ball into the Bentford net. It was a thing of brutal class, sir.

And that was it, was it?

More or less, sir. It was an entertaining game with few chances, but Forest were the better team.

And who's the Foresters' manager these days, did you say?

Sabri Lamouchi.

Not Sabri "Picopin" Lamouchi the roof strangler of Montmartre?

Er ... yes, probably.

Good God. The days we live in, eh Vetch?

Indeed, sir.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 20 2019.
GAME 12 : WIGAN CAR PARK 1 FOREST 0

So what went wrong? Here are the bare facts.

The first thing that went wrong was that Wigan turned out to be not the place it should have seemed, being either a town or a borough or both, in one of two possible counties (Lancashire and Greater Manchester), or perhaps both. This proved to be disturbing, especially to older people like me, who prefer things to stay in one place , not flip round like some reverse deja vu ( that's funny - I'm sure I've never been here before ). Add to that playing at two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, and you have the kind of wrong-place wrong-time daftness which meant that any sane outcome to the match was unlikely.

The second thing that went wrong was that Sabri Lamouchi's selections were at fault. Was it the complacent belief that Mir and Bostock could do the job against lowly Wigan? Or did M. Lamouchi push his luck once too often? Whatever, Bostock may have looked as classy as a Pullman coach but took just as long to haul himself up to speed. And Rafa Mir took the opportunity of his first start to spectacularly bugger up every chance and half chance that came his way. Ironically, Bostock made the pass of the year (to Mir, who ... you know the rest) just before both of them were hooked.

The third thing that went wrong was that, apart from Brice Samba, Cash and perhaps Ribeiro, everybody's game was off. Without the energetic security of Samba Sow (or Sam Basso as Stress calls him), Ben Watson struggled to exert any authority until it was too late. At critical moments, Jack Robinson spent too much time running into Joe Worrall, Joe Worrall spent too much time stranded out of position, and Figueiredo spent too much time dithering about like a man trying to remember how he spelled his name.. Sammy Ameobi was Forest's biggest threat, but that's an empty compliment when nothing comes of it. Joe Lolley was worryingly ineffective. It was as if the unfamiliar line up had thrown everybody's game off. Substitutions (esp Silva) improved things in the second half, but by then the computer was so knotted up it needed a full factory reset.

The fourth thing that was wrong was that even the excuses were wrong. Individual moans about refs and penalties and bad days at offices and three games in a week dwindled into insignificance beside the larger knowledge that we all had: we're not as good without Dawson and Sow; we badly need another decent striker; Ribeiro should be slotted in at left back, and Bostock and Mir should be shunted off to the sidings till the Cup turns up. If we'd started right, we'd have won. Apart from a couple of speedy youngsters, Wigan were pap. Even the goal was mishit. Yes it was. He missed with his right leg and the ball went in off the inside of his left thigh. Yes it did.

The fifth thing that was wrong was your expectation that I would spend any more time droning on about the fifth thing that was wrong. No, there really isn't much more to add about an experiment that didn't work, except to say that the only thing that didn't go wrong was the strengthening conviction that this Lamouchi bloke is a fine manager, quite ready to admit to and learn from his mistakes. Yes he is.

SEASON 2019/20. OCTOBER 23 2019.
GAME 13 : FOREST 1 UL 2

The Book of Games
Chapter 201913

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said - “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert . . . Watson's legs for sure,
As dead as hope, and near them, on the sand,
The ghostly flickers of a losing team
Play out their parts against the mighty Hull.
There's Sami Ameobi knotting up
The earth and all its full backs, but in vain.
There's Robinson, whom Duty overwhelms,
And Cash, who rises o'er the waves to score.
The try-hard Worrall does his level best
But Chema is no Dawson, sad to say.
Without Sam Basso's instrumental drive
The rest, alas, dance to a dreary tune:
Carvalho's promise quickly turns to dust,
And Silva fades into the shadows where
The likes of Grabban and Joe Lolley wait.
Of all the men who failed to make a team,
The mighty Samba stands alone in pride.
And that is where we leave this ghostly game,
Its players drift beyond the monument
Half buried in the sand, and written clear
Upon the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Forest, Lord of All the Leagues,
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

At least until Sat'day.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 2 2019.
GAME 14 : LUTONTOWN 1 FOREST 2

Lutontown are known as the Hatters, who were a group of people who committed suicide by stiffening hats with mercury. If the mercury didn't kill them, it drove them mad, which is where the character "Mad Hatter" comes from. I tell you this because it provides this week's excuse for another insanely uninteresting Championship match in which Forest didn't play great but still won. People keep saying "Wait till Forest click, then you'll see something." Well, I've got news for you: this is it - this is Forest clicked as far as they are going to click. Unless Forest buy a world class striker in January, the something you're seeing is all the something you're going to see. Not that this is a bad thing, of course - Forest are, after all, back in the top six. Just don't expect league-crushing consistency, that's all.

Anyway, after a brief monsoon, Lutontown had the first attempt at goal. A corner by the confusingly named Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu was headed into the side netting by, surprisingly, Harry Connick Jr. A few minutes later a neat pass from Joe Lolley set up Lewis Grabban, but the front man poked it over the bar. This made Grabban the worst striker ever, a player who was not only having a dreadful match but had not scored a goal in living memory. Football fans have always damned players, of course, but this season, with this Forest, undue criticism is a sure guarantee that the target will eventually do something special. As soon as you hear fans grumbling about somebody, you smile in anticipation of good stuff happening.

The game pottered along in its back and forth way until Dan "Flower" Potts scored at the back post, only to have the goal disallowed for offside, then at the other end the dreadful Grabban shot wide. Despite being dreadful, Grabban and his underachieving mate Joe Lolley were beginning to give Luton a hard time, and just before half time, Grabban picked up a Ribeiro pass on the halfway line. The weak, slow and inaccurate striker shrugged off some awkwardly big defender, sped away, and neatly slid the ball past the Lutontown keeper. Three cheers for the useless sod, cried the Forest faithful.

Forest started the second half hunting for a second goal, and it came after about ten minutes. Lolley provided a(nother) cross which Ameobi controlled like an octopus and fired into the net via a deflection. Two nil - the most dangerous score in football.

How dangerous was illustrated when one of the Lua's drew a decent save from Brice Samba, when Lutontown had another goal chalked off for offside, and eventually when McManaman made the score 1-2 in the eighty oddth minute.

But that was that. Luton played some pretty stuff but were a bit damp up front and a bit lumpen down back. Forest were less structured but tougher down back and more menacing up front. The game itself will probably only be remembered for the three points, and as the game before the next one, the one in which the Sheep Nation drown horribly in the pus of their own corruption.

Sorry, too much mercury.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 9 2019.
GAME 15 : FOREST 1 SHEEP 0

Was it Shakespeare, or perhaps somebody else, who described Derby County as "that whining bitch of a club"? Whoever it was, they were spot on. Before, during and after their defeat on Saturday, the Sheep were in full bleat mode. Most of their bleats began with the idea that Forest were a poor side who got lucky, then spiralled into the insane proposition that were it not for a corrupt referee they would have beaten Forest into a cocked hat.

The sad truth about Derby, to be fair, is that their persistent whining is just a cover for their deep sense of inadequacy, like a disreputable uncle coughing to mask a fart. Was it Shakespeare, or perhaps somebody else, who said "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." Whoever it was, they were spot on. The bleating of the Sheep grows louder the more there is to hide.

But Forest supporters are not a vindictive lot, so we'll ignore all the stuff the Sheep have to feel guilty about - you know, the years of diving and cheating and fluking and failing and crying, the whining about Spygate, the drunk driving, the rock-bottom cynicism behind the treatment of Lawrence and Bennett and Keogh, the FFP stadium scam, the shady deal to recruit number 32 Rooney. We'll bury all that, and get on with the match report.

The first half was Derby's, in the sense that they passed it around foppishly and created a couple of chances which ended up being as threatening as a clown's bucket of confetti. Forest used their smaller share of possession more purposefully, but ended up creating little, which will only become a problem when we lose. Still, Ameobi banged in two stingers from eighteen yards which threatened to break Roos's fingers.

The second half was Forest's. Derby spent much of the half trying to work out what Cocu had been talking about at half time, and Forest took control. Part of Cocu's instructions must have been to continue playing it out from the back, because he has always insisted on playing the sophisticated passing game. Unfortunately there are two flaws in this plan. Firstly, he doesn't have the players to pull it off. Secondly, clever devils like Lamouchi spot what's going on and tell their players to pressurise the second receivers. So the defenders end up lumbering around with no one short to give it to, and in the 56th minute, the pressure affected young Bogle so severely that his head blew up and he passed to Grabban, who drilled the ball smartly past Roos.

That was it, really. Forest backed off eventually as they always do, but they are so strong defensively you sense that only a fluke will undo them. Marriott had a chance, but his paper legs let him down. Forest won, and deserved to.

To be absolutely honest, Derby are playing okay these days (having somehow improved since their talisman captain has gone); it's just that they have no leaders, a coach they don't fully understand, and strikers made of animal fat and tissue paper. Forest have six or seven captains on the pitch, one of the top six goalkeepers in England, a coach they like and respect, and a striker who, at the moment, is doing brilliantly but needs help.

Well done everybody - the players, the people who organised the Armistice Day commemorations, and Monsieur Lamouchi on his birthday. And commiserations to Derby, who continue to fight hard despite the stench of buried truths which haunt their dreams. I think it was Shakespeare who said that. Or maybe it was somebody else. Maybe nobody cares.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 23 2019.
GAME 16 : BRISTOLS 0 FOREST 0

AT PIE MANSIONS...

Good evening, sir.

Good God, Vetch, what are you doing here? I thought you were in the Bristols.

Indeed the plan was to travel to the Bristols, sir, but the parlous state of our motorway network and Doctor Portfolio's unwillingness to pay his fair share of petrol money left me with no choice but to watch the match on my phone.

Call me an old bucket of crabs, Vetch, but I don't understand a word of what you just said.

I apologise, sir. Suffice it to say that I can give you a brief but satisfactory summary of the match.

Watching football through phones. Sounds like the devil's work to me, Vetch.

I very much doubt it, sir. Shall I proceed?

If you must.

I shall, sir. Despite the 0 - 0 scoreline, there were various layers of excitement on show during the match. Much of the excitement in the first half was of the swelling kind, coming as it did from the excellence of Forest's play and the expectation that they would score. Young Master Yates nearly smacked one in from a corner early on. Joe Lolley tested their goalkeeper's fingers not long afterwards, and later was unlucky with a deflected volley. Sadly the goal did not come, so a less fervid excitement had to derive from watching the Bristols flogging themselves senseless against the rock wall of our defence or Tiago Silva showing them how to run a game.

I must say Vetch it does sound jolly thrilling. Do you know, if we still had the Tiger Moth I wouldn't have minded flying you down to the Bristols myself, were it not for this bone in my leg which turns even the shortest journey into an agonising ordeal.

I understand completely, sir. Shall I continue?

There's more?

Indeed, sir. That was just the first half. The second half provided excitement of a different kind.

I am agog, Vetch. Carry on.

Everything seemed to be under control until the hour mark, when Young Master Yates almost diverted the ball into the Forest goal.

Young people, eh Vetch?

Sadly, sir, the follies of youth did not end there. Driven on by a maniacal desire to atone for his mistake, he launched himself into a grossly misjudged tackle on Bristols star Adam Nadger. It was, sadly, fully deserving of the red card it incurred, and Forest were down to ten men.

In my day, Vetch, we would have taken Young Master Yates to the library and left him there with the Colonel's service revolver.

Indeed, sir, but the whole sorry episode provided us with a fascinating insight into the character of this Forest squad and its management, for the ten men were not satisfied with simply hanging on, but continued to push forward and threaten whenever they could, generating the kind of excitement which can only be described as delirious horror. The intent was attacking, the substitutions were attacking, and indeed Lewis Grabban could have won it near the end if his dink hadn't faded wide.

There's nothing worse than a wide-fading dink, I always say.

There were two kinds of excitement left. The first one came as Forest hung on near the end, and it was the kind you feel when wringing a wet towel to the point where your knuckle bones threaten to pop. The second came when the final whistle went, and Forest could congratulate themselves on a job well done, a point bravely earned, and the exciting realisation that this team has enough character and ability in it to deal with anything which comes its way.

By jingo Vetch you've convinced me. This stuff is too good to miss. Get the Tiger Moth petrolled up - I'm flying you to the next Foresters' game, in whatever God-forsaken part of the world it takes place.

It's in London, sir, on Wednesday.

Good. We do still have the Tiger Moth, don't we Vetch?

I really couldn't say, sir.

Gosh, this leg hurts quite suddenly.

Indeed, sir. The lack of air transport and the recurrence of the bone in your leg appear to be scuppering your plans.

'Tis a pity, Vetch, but life isn't always a bucket of crabs.

Indeed, sir. Perhaps it never was.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 27 2019.
GAME 17 : QUEENS PARK LADIES 0 FOREST 4

Seven reasons why supporting Nottingham Forest will send you mad.

1.   You will quickly convince yourself that Forest play away from home far more often than anyone else, and that this is one part of a Football League conspiracy to prevent them from progressing. Other elements are refusing to award them penalties under any circumstance and appointing officials with beans in their heads. All these things were on show in the QPL game, so they must be true.

2.   You can never remember how to spell the name of Forest's first goalscorer against QPL, so decide to have the letters of his name inked on your ten fingers by a dyslexic tattooist. What a goal it was from Figureideo, eh? Did you see how he took the weight off the cross by falling backwards, thus allowing him to head it with great accuracy? Yes he did.

3.   You will begin to view Forest players in very strange ways. Joe Worrall shouting at people will make you cry. Sami (etc) charging down the wing will remind you of a running Woody from Toy Story. You can hear Uncle Albert creak. Tiago Silva seems to swim in his own dimension. You will be heard saying "Did you see that interception from Ben Watson? I love him, you know."

4.   You will torture yourself by pretending to understand the way Forest play. You know that the defence is strong. You're a bit unsure about the occasional hole in the middle, but content yourself by saying that it's Forest's way of "drawing the opposition on" so they can be more easily countered. Still, it's a bit disconcerting the way QPL keep finding shooting positions, which they never exploit because they're crap. You understand, too, that the countering is a bit disconnected sometimes, though it can occasionally be brilliant, and criticising an attack which scores 4 is a bit unnecessary, don't you think? Anyway, it all boils down to set pieces, or magic, or something to do with Grabban's beard.

5.   You will live in mortal fear of the Forest players actually being as good as they seem to be, because things like that can't happen, and you must be dreaming or worse. You will wake up to find that all the best players are injured or have been lured away by Premier League goodies or they've all gone swimmin' with bow legged women or some such, and that Popeye Nugent, drafted in on emergency loan, will grin his slack jawed grin at you from some coal-black nightmare.

6.   You will spend a lot of time wondering where the second goal is coming from. Okay, there's a lovely finish from Figureiedo, but Forest only ever score one. As usual, the second goal doesn't come, which is scary because Forest are beginning to do their retreating brick wall impression, and QPL might just get lucky. You will find yourself saying this a lot. Then Watson sets up Sami (etc) whose universal joint of a cross is put away by Grabban, who scores when he wants. That's two, but, as we all know, two nil is the most dangerous lead in football. So the third, thirteen million pounds worth of magic from Carvalho, is welcome relief. And the fourth, a poached effort from Semedo, is just a giggle. Half an hour later, however, you will find yourself worrying that Forest have used up their season's quota of goals.

7.   You will drive yourself nuts trying to decide whether Lamouchi is the real deal or just another page which burns to ash in the grate of Forest's history, and even nutsier when all the evidence begins to point to the former, and nutsiest of all when you realise he might just be good enough to take Forest into the Premier League. This is the stuff of nervous breakdowns. What you need is a draw or two to settle you down.

SEASON 2019/20. NOVEMBER 30 2019.
GAME 18 : FOREST 0 CAERDYDD 1

Missis Pie said that Forest were like a skittish dog. They behaved well when left alone, but as soon as you paid them any attention, they went completely off the rails. Like many of her sex, Missis Pie is a woman, and though her "skittish dog" analogy is cute enough, it simply proves that women shouldn't comment on or try to understand professional football. The real reasons for Forest's latest cock-up are as follows.

There was too much mist. Down by the Trent has a bad history with regard to weather. I remember many years ago Forest v Spurs being snowed off, and we had to spend the night in a B&B shoebox surrounded by cockney people who laughed like horses. I remember games being called off because of ice, rain, fog, fire and broken goal posts. Weather is no friend of the City Ground, despite the song.

There is something wrong with Neil Harris's teeth. The peculiar shape of his jaw is a result of his having too many teeth, or his teeth are still growing, or he's somehow ended up with somebody else's teeth. Whatever the cause, his condition speaks of bad faith and sour football.

Football shouldn't be played during election campaigns. This particular campaign has been particularly depressing. The prospect of the country electing Boris that huge dump of moral pus Johnson to number ten has obviously affected the players, if only because the opposition to him is fractured and appallingly naive. It doesn't affect Welsh teams, of course, because Wales is a fictional place with a made up language, but you could see how badly the Forest players were disorientated by the culture of lies, deceit and general rattiness.

Forest players were probably ill. They were suffering from either vision depth disorder or sudden-onset cataracts or something which affected their eyesight so badly it took them thirty odd efforts to get a shot on target.

Caerdydd were lucky. Their goal was a fluke which bobbled its way past an unsighted Brice Samba. Their defending comprised a breathtaking amount of timewasting, blocks which were no more than eyes-closed leaps of faith, and a referee who "saw nothing wrong" a suspicious number of times. Add to this the fact that Forest had gone blind, the Iberian contingent had poor games because they were cold, and you end up with the usual Caerdydd victory.

Forest lost because of numbers. Although the home/away win ratio is the same (50%), the losses show a significant difference. Away, Forest have lost 1 out of 10. At home, they have lost 3 out of eight. Accounting for this difference is not difficult. Some people say Forest are a counter-attacking side, happy to cede possession and hit on the break - a classic away strategy. At home, facing similar tactics from the opposition, they struggle. This might seem a reasonable explanation, but a more valid one is that numbers are inherently evil. Forest have played eighteen matches. They should have played nineteen, but they haven't, they have played eighteen. Eighteen is three sixes, and we all know that 666 is the number of the beast, because the bible sort of tells us so. 666 was also one of the prize draws in the 1980 Pennsylvania Lottery Scandal. This was a successful plot to rig the three digit game "The Daily Number". All of the balls in the three machines, except those numbered 4 and 6, were weighted, meaning that the drawing was almost sure to be a combination of those digits. The scheme was successful in that 666 (one of the eight combinations of 4s and 6s that the "fixers" were hoping for) was drawn on April 24, 1980. When you take all this into account, there is little wonder that Forest lost.

The Forest players could have been distracted by the antics of their idiot neighbours down the A52. Apparently, Shrek was introduced to the crowd "to damp down the Rooney hysteria" which was of course bound to happen when he put on the number 32 shirt in January. This first part of Rooney's coaching education involved sitting in the dugout trying to look interested and thinking of words, while Derby could only draw with Forest's 4-0 victims Queens Park Ladies.

One theory says that Forest lost this one on purpose, in order to take the pressure off themselves. People are beginning to see promotion potential in the side, and Forest have a history of not playing well when people start noticing them. Another way of putting this is to compare Forest to a skittish dog. They behave well when left alone, but as soon as you pay them any attention, they go completely off the rails. And no this is not the same as what Missis Pie said, because my skittish dog is going off the rails on purpose, and anyway it would be an Alsation, not some yapping bundle of hair and bone like a Yorkshire Terrier.

That's enough. We've managed to insult women, the City Ground weather, cockneys, Neil Harris, Boris that huge dump of moral pus Johnson, Wales, eyes, Caerdydd, the Iberian peninsula, the devil, lottery cheats, Derby, Yorkshire Terriers, and Forest. That'll do for one day.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 6 2019.
GAME 19 :MEWO 2 FOREST 2

STRESS'S BLOGUE

When Forest cock things up, Fat Man disappears and leaves the whole mess of frottage for me to clear up. It's become a disturbing tradition, like Boris Johnson avoiding stuff, but somebody's got to do it, so here goes.

I predict that Sabri Lamouchi will have four nervous breakdowns this season, this being the second one. His first one came earlier, against somebody, where he started with the wrong people. Here at Mewo he once again started with the wrong people, resting Lolley and Grabban, and the wrong system at the back. Every so often Lamouchi exhibits this unhinged desire to jig things up in order to rest people or to gain some tactical advantage, and every so often it fails.

The failure in the first half was humiliating. The wing back system produced little winging or backing but did offer Mewo the freedom of wide spaces from which to cross, and Worrall and Samba were still arguing about conceding a corner when an unmarked Williams headed Mewo in front. For the whole half, Forest's passing was mostly cross-eyed, and up front the wrongest of wrong people, Rafa Mir, looked like a fugitive who was running out of hiding places.

The second half began with some positional adjustments designed simply to confuse, and it was not until Lamouchi's brain rebooted itself that something approaching normal service was resumed. In the 57th minute Figure8o made way for Joe Lolley which gave more attacking edge and the security of the usual back four. In the 62th minute the unfortunate Mir was put on a bus to Wolverhampton and on came The Most High Grabban. A minute later a cross from Silva was headed back across goal by Worrall, and The Most High Grabban nodded it home.

Forest now had some momentum, though Mewo still posed a threat, with their diving, their baying mob of a crowd, that shirt which reminded me of the Germans' kit in "Escape to Victory", and the enormously irritating Wallace, a possible descendant of William Wallace who was executed in a complicated way involving fractions in 1305, the last time Derby won away.

Anyway, in the 88th minute a cross from Sameobi was converted with exquisite neatness by the Lord High Grabban, and Forest celebrated a famous win. Had it not been for a piece of forgettable goalkeeping a few minutes later, the famous win would have been theirs. As it was, they had to settle for a famous draw, which was fair reward after their first half nightmare.

If Fat Man had done this you'd now get some tedious analysis about "required areas of improvement", but all I'm going to say is that almost half way through the season Forest are fifth with a game in hand, Sabri Lamouchi's third nervous breakdown is a couple of months away, and I'm having sardines for tea, all of which are good things.

SEASON 2019/20. DECEMBER 10 2019.
GAME 20 : FOREST 1 MISERABLEBUGGER 1

I don't suppose we should be surprised. This not playing well at home stuff has been going on for years, as has the deep winter decline. The failure to punish mediocre outfits like Miserablebugger seems a more recent development.

Why we should struggle so much at the City Ground is now officially beyond me. Players change, managers change ... the only constants are the ground and much of the crowd, and the history of course. Are we saying that the ground is too big or the crowd too demanding? Or perhaps the burden of historical success is too heavy? God knows, but he probably doesn't care anyway. One thing is for sure: if Forest's struggles at the City Ground are down to stadium or crowd or history, then we're in for a hard time, because none of these things is going to change. Except the stadium will get bigger. And probably the crowd. Oh dear.

At any rate, something cows the players into producing the kind of timid fare they served up against Miserablebugger. Miserablebugger have "improved" lately, which means they are now barely functional, but barely functional always seems enough to trouble Forest, as they ponce about on the edges of the danger zone without ever understanding how to cause meaningful damage. The idea of being patient and waiting for the right opportunity is okay up to a point, but this is not the Champions League, and patience should never translate into doing bugger all and waiting for a goal to score itself. That's what it seemed like at the end of the first half. People were reaching the point of contemplating self harm.

The players had obviously been told to warm things up in the second half, and eventually a period of pressure brought Forest's goal - a Ryan Yates header from six yards, a fitting atonement for recent indiscretions. The celebrations were tinged with relief and just a bit of guilt - after all, scoring a goal against Miserablebugger should be nothing to write home about. People now began the usual process of wishful thinking. The floodgates would now open. Forest would now humiliate this barely functional side. Forest would at least get a second. Forest needed a second to make it safe. Come on Forest, get a second.

Not only did Forest not get a second, they didn't even have the courage to go for one. Once they had got their goal, all sense and skill washed away, and they fell back either in complacency or fear, probably both. Robinson tripped somebody as he habitually does, and somebody scored from the penalty spot. What was unbelievable was not just the falling back or the stupid foul, but the inevitability of it all. As I said at the beginning, we shouldn't be surprised. Even Lamouchi understands it now - it is as if we are scared to win, he said. The nightmare is beginning to recur, and it may well be your fault.

But come on, there's no need to throw yourself in front of a bridge, as Stress probably did. Because we are surrounded by teams just as daft as ourselves, we're still fifth with a game in hand - a fact you should savour until Saturday, when Sheffield the Wendies come to the City Ground and reduce us to a quivering, tasteless purée.

Happy days.






Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow, creeps in this petty pace from day to day, to the last syllable of recorded time; and all our yesterdays have lighted fools the way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury signifying nothing.